Gulf of Mexico, USA — Gulf of Mexico, USA — A landmark effort to help improve reef fish management in the Gulf has nearly reached program capacity, with less than two dozen vessel openings left in the Charter-For-Hire data collection project.
Charter captains, the Gulf Council, and stakeholders Gulf-wide have long called for improved data to manage the reef fish complex better. Most years, charter operations are injured by shorter and shorter fishing seasons for many of the Gulf’s most popular species, particularly for triggerfish and amberjack. Federal officials maintain the erratic closures are for the good of overfished stocks; meanwhile, fishermen argue that the season adjustments are more arbitrary than calculated since valid data does not exist.
But a $1.7 million data collection initiative led by the Gulf Seafood Institute (GSI) and technology partner CLS America, Inc. is changing that. Enabling Captains with newly installed satellite technology that wirelessly links to mobile tablets onboard, the program creates a real time database with vessel and catch data. It’s proved so attractive that 230 private-vessel Captains are signed on and only 23 spots remain.
Bob Gill, respected as an effective mediator between federal fishery managers and irritated fishermen and industry during his years on …read more