Catch and Bycatch in U.S. Southeast Gillnet Fisheries, 2016
Alyssa N. (Alyssa Napier), Mathers, Bethany M. Deacy, John K. Carlson
The Southeast Gillnet Observer Program has adapted to the changes of the Florida-Georgia shark gillnet fishery since the program began in 1993 (e.g. Carlson and Bethea 2007 and references therein, Mathers et al. 2015). There are currently about 500 total directed and incidental shark permits issued for the southeastern U.S. Atlantic coast and Gulf of Mexico, while the number of gillnet fishers changes from year to year. Gillnet effort targeting large coastal and small coastal sharks declined as a result of Amendments 2 and 3 to the Consolidated Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan.
Large coastal and small coastal shark targeted gillnet effort has continued to decline in the last five years, such that it has become almost nonexistent. Fishers have consequently increased effort targeting finfish, including Spanish mackerel Scomberomorus maculatus, king mackerel Scomberomorus cavalla, and bluefish Pomatomus saltatrix, with varying types of gillnet gear. However, a small amount of shark targeted gillnet effort continues to be observed.
The Southeast Gillnet Observer Program, in its continuing efforts to adapt to the fishery, currently covers anchored (sink and stab), strike, or drift gillnet fishing, regardless of target, by vessels that fish year-round from Florida to North Carolina and the Gulf of Mexico. Herein, we summarize fishing effort and catch and bycatch in these fisheries during January 2016 - December 2016, collectively referred to as '2016'.