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Old 05-21-2022, 08:10 AM   #46
fishkilla
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Re: The Collapse of the Gulf of Mexico Grouper Fishery

Those are good questions but the question everyone should be asking is why have we allowed the Gulf Council and NMFS to mismanage our fishery so badly that there has to be closed recreational seasons and reductions in commercial quotas?

I've always found it hard to stay out of the commercial vs. recreational trap. It should be fishermen (fisherpersons?) vs. the managers of the fisheries and how we should demand accountability for their mismanagement.

This video is the last time I have shot a killer stringer of gags. Between me and the other diver we had 33 gags. We back dove it and got 10 more an hour later. (because it took and hour to gut and pack all those fish!) I don't know of anyone who has a video anything close to that since 2015.

33 gags

These fish were named grouper because they are suppose to "group" together. We should rename them to loners.



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Old 05-21-2022, 02:22 PM   #47
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Re: The Collapse of the Gulf of Mexico Grouper Fishery

Cool vid, Ben! Man...that little wreck must've been all alone like an oasis in a desert of sand. Did you actually find that one yourself whilst traveling? I'm sure there was a pretty indication on the screen that something was afoot, even in that low relief.
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Old 05-24-2022, 07:22 AM   #48
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Re: The Collapse of the Gulf of Mexico Grouper Fishery

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Cool vid, Ben! Man...that little wreck must've been all alone like an oasis in a desert of sand. Did you actually find that one yourself whilst traveling? I'm sure there was a pretty indication on the screen that something was afoot, even in that low relief.

That wasn't my number. At the time I didn't have a side imaging system on my boat so we took my friends comm boat up there to hit all of his numbers and do some hunting for new ones. After this video I have not seen that little wreck nearly as good as productive. The fish moved out of the nature coast during that red tide event in 2015. Some came back. Most got caught when they moved south to more populated fishing areas. The head boats out of NPR and JP started catching big red groupers and gags on their 1/2 day "grunt" trips. The phenomenal fishing didn't last long.
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Old 05-24-2022, 10:35 AM   #49
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Re: The Collapse of the Gulf of Mexico Grouper Fishery

Ben, your video harvest looks like something from the late 70's or early 80's. Back then, no Go Pro, no nitrox only air, no GPS but, loran C was fairly new, paper bottom machines, no CMOR type chips and no side or front scan, I think air computers had just come out, only steel 72's and AL 80 tanks. Mainly, original Sea Hornet or JBL guns. If you came across a little rock pile or wreck you could load up. I still have my big stringer that today would be called a commercial stringer. Been diving for a long time with one half that size. Glad to see you're a little more active now on this site. If you ever have the time. Post a few Holy Spear-It trip videos to the MG. It'll show these younger guys how the MG fishery was back then. Take care-Jose
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Old 05-25-2022, 07:57 AM   #50
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Re: The Collapse of the Gulf of Mexico Grouper Fishery

topside charty boat days. back when you were allowed 5 grouper per day and a 2 day bag limit on overnight trips. it wasn't uncommon in the winter to come in with 60 grouper.

HS topside


this video starts topside of a commercial trip on a different boat with my friend deepfish. 50 feet of water off of bayport in September.

bayport september

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Old 05-25-2022, 05:28 PM   #51
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Re: The Collapse of the Gulf of Mexico Grouper Fishery

Cool videos.. Everyone was so young back then..
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Old 06-07-2022, 06:22 AM   #52
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Re: The Collapse of the Gulf of Mexico Grouper Fishery

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4S7Qt7nZ23g

Maybe ask these guys for some grouper spots?
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Old 06-07-2022, 04:46 PM   #53
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Re: The Collapse of the Gulf of Mexico Grouper Fishery

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Originally Posted by fishkilla View Post
Good stuff, Ben. I remember this vid because I was practically shouting at the computer 'Why aren't you shooting any fish!" .
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Old 06-08-2022, 08:36 AM   #54
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Re: The Collapse of the Gulf of Mexico Grouper Fishery

see page 3 Ted. i assure you it's not for lack of dive numbers, it's a lack of fish numbers.


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Good stuff, Ben. I remember this vid because I was practically shouting at the computer 'Why aren't you shooting any fish!" .

at least we have some footage of the good ol' days and we can still shout at our computer.

i started this thread mostly out of frustration for believing that our government had begun a program to ensure the vitality of our reef fish fishery. i was part of the program and looked forward to years of sustainable fishing. the red snapper fishery had rebounded so abundantly that i thought our grouper fishery would do the same.

if a fishery is overfished or undergoing overfishing then strict measures must be put into place to correct the fishery. while the devastating red tide was killing it's way up and down the gulf coast in 2015 the gulf council didn't apply any kind of emergency closures. then the next year (2016) the commercial red grouper quota was increased by 3,000,000 lbs. Quotas and Catch Shares Reports

it wasn't until 2019 that the quota was reduced from 7.7 million pounds to 3 million pounds. by then the red grouper were gone.

i was asked by a fisheries scientist at a fisheries meeting in the summer of 2018, "where do you think the red grouper went?" i answered, "to the restaurant." at that time we were getting $5 a lb for red grouper. i asked the fisheries scientist, "do you honestly think that the red grouper swam to some place that no fisherman (fisherpersons) is willing to take their boat? i'm sitting on 3,000 lbs of red grouper quota. why wouldn't i take my boat another 50 or 100 miles to go make $15,000 in a week?"

when this reason for reducing the red grouper quota was posted on the gulf council web site and emailed out to all the commercial fishermen i knew there was no chance for our fishery to thrive.

"Although the most recent red grouper population assessment did not show red grouper was undergoing overfishing (too many fish being caught) or being overfished (the populations is too low), the assessment did find the population was below a level that could support the optimal harvest."

so i guess no one is to blame!?! did the red tide kill all the fish? did the fishermen catch all the fish? was it a little bit of both? did the fisheries managers ignore an impending problem so that they could say they had another healthy fish species population?

when a fishery is undergoing overfishing or is overfished drastic measures have to implemented to bring the fishery back into compliance. red snapper is the only "healthy" fishery in the gulf. it is the most strict as far as limits commercially and recreationally. the NMFS and gulf council needed at least one more fishery to be healthy in the gulf and for a few years there was some promise that red grouper would be something they could hang their hat on. instead either through incompetence or intention fishermen were ignored, scientists were ignored and the party kept on going. i knew after reading that statement our fishery doesn't have a chance.

with the average recreational guy being 1000% more effective at finding fish and catching fish than just 10 years ago and the commercial sector having every rock, pothole, wreck, piece of metal debris, ledge, and sinkhole there is no place for the grouper to group. there are a few tiny slivers of bottom that are protected from fishing but they are over 100 miles offshore and are not monitored very effectively.

in my experience so far in the last 20 years it seems like the fishery gets fished down hard, some extreme measures are put into place and then the fishing is good for about 5 years until the next collapse. 10 years of rebuilding then 5 years of good fishing.
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Old 06-08-2022, 08:55 PM   #55
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Re: The Collapse of the Gulf of Mexico Grouper Fishery

It's easy to see what's going on. The recreational and charter hook and line guys are catching and discarding the majority of grouper. If just a 3rd die that are kept or discarded YOUR looking at a insane amount of poundage dead every decent day of weather during gag season.
I would estimate on low atleast 5000 boats go for grouper every day of good weather. That's just from say Clearwater to steinhatchee not counting the rest of the gulf. Just think about it every boat ramp is packed and overflowing. Any area offshore with bottom from 15 ft to the middle grounds. You can look around and count 20-50 boats fishing.

Just figure they catch 5 keepers and discard 20 shorts. Let's say that's 12 fish dead per boat. Some will catch more some less etc etc. Average them at 9 pounds per fish.
That's a possible 540,000 pounds of grouper dead on 1 single day of recr hook and line.
Just to be clear the overall yearly gag grouper acl for entire gulf is 3 million pounds. Over 2 million recreational and 980,000 for commercial.

By the way commercial harvest for the entire year has only been right at 600,000 pounds of gag grouper for the last 8 years. That's for the entire gulf from Key west to the tip of Texas. Every single pound of fish commercially harvested in the gulf is accounted and logged thru vms log books noaa fwc etc etc etc. If we don't do the this we can loose our $30k permit and business.

There are too many people fishing in the gulf to just guess what they are catching on a guessed amount. Only way to fix this is every one has to report there catch and by catch mandatory. That is the only way to have true accurate data to keep a great fishery. It may suck but it's the only thing that will work.

Anybody that has grouper fished or spearfished over the past 5,10,or 20 and more years in gulf can see and will tell you the fishery especially gag grouper is in trouble. It's harder and harder every year.

What I can promise you is it is not from commercial guys. We have not even caught our allotted fish in the last 8 years.

Last edited by zackistre; 06-10-2022 at 03:00 PM.
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Old 06-10-2022, 09:19 AM   #56
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Re: The Collapse of the Gulf of Mexico Grouper Fishery

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Originally Posted by zackistre View Post
It's easy to see what's going on. The recreational and charter hook and line guys are catching and discarding the majority of grouper. If just a 3rd die that are kept or discarded YOUR looking at a insane amount of poundage dead every decent day of weather during gag season.
I would estimate on low atleast 5000 boats go for grouper every day of good weather. That's just from say Clearwater to steinhatchee not counting the rest of the gulf. Just think about it every boat ramp is packed and overflowing. Any area offshore with bottom from 15 ft to the middle grounds. You can look around and count 20-50 boats fishing.

Just figure they catch 5 keepers and discard 20 shorts. Let's say that's 12 fish dead per boat. Some will catch more some less etc etc. Average them at 9 pounds per fish.
That's a possible 540,000 pounds of grouper dead on 1 single day of recr hook and line.
Just to be clear the overall yearly gag grouper acl for entire gulf is 3 million pounds. Over 2 million recreational and 980,000 for commercial.

By the way commercial harvest for the entire year has only been right at 600,000 pounds of gag grouper for the last 8 years. That's for the entire gulf from Key west to the tip of Texas. Every single pound of fish commercially harvested in the gulf is accounted and logged thru vms log books noaa fwc etc etc etc. If we don't do the this we can loose our $30k permit and business.

There are too many people fishing in the gulf to just guess that they are catching a guessed amount. Only way to fix it is every one have to report there catch and by catch mandatory. That is the only way to have true accurate data to keep a great fishery. It may suck but it's the only thing that will work.

Anybody that has grouper fished or spearfished over the past 5,10,or 20 and more years in gulf can see and will tell you the fishery especially gag grouper is in trouble. It's harder and harder every year.

What I can promise you is it is not from commercial guys. We have not even caught our allotted fish in the last 8 years.
This makes perfect sense. 540,000 pounds of dead fish per day times assume 60 good days of fishing = 32,400,000 pounds of grouper that the rec fishery is killing per year just in a small section of the GOM.
Good thing you don't make the rules.
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Old 06-10-2022, 02:54 PM   #57
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Re: The Collapse of the Gulf of Mexico Grouper Fishery

Crazy but it's just typical numbers and math. That's a educated guess of course. I truly think the actual numbers will scare you. Only way to know for sure is have everyone to mandatory report. Just like all commercial guys have to. We are the only ones given true accurate data. The charter sector 40 percent is so far and all 100 percent by end of this year is mandatory.
I do know many recr and charter guys are catching 50-70 short grouper per day. I would hate to guess how many get sharked and die from exhaustion or lacerated thrown up insides.

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Old 06-23-2022, 07:22 AM   #58
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Re: The Collapse of the Gulf of Mexico Grouper Fishery

I had a thought years ago about inshore fishing in Tampa Bay. This was around the early 2000's. With almost every good snook and redfish hole being occupied by a boat even during week days I thought that some day there might have to be a system set up where you drew a tag and that allowed you to fish a certain area for a certain time. Much like the deer hunting system set up on state management areas. Also when hunting those locations you had to check in, check out and bring anything you harvested to a check station so that if a biologist wanted to take some samples they could. There doesn't seem to be any problems with the white tail deer population in this state. Could this possibly be the reason why?

After 12 years of the IFQ system for commercial fishers (2010), the head boat collaborative (since 2014?) and more restrictive recreational limits. (more strict than pre 2000's) We are right back at a fishery that is on the brink of disaster. It seems to me that most fishermen whether recreational or commercial are willing to restrict their fishing if it improves and helps sustain the fishery. Why does the Gulf Council refuse to act in a manor that sustains our fishery instead of allowing these booms and busts in the fish population?
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Last edited by fishkilla; 07-15-2022 at 03:04 PM.
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Old 07-15-2022, 03:09 PM   #59
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Re: The Collapse of the Gulf of Mexico Grouper Fishery

Looks like FWC is starting the understand the Gag Grouper problem in the Gulf.

"Commissioners of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, or FWC, approved the measures during their Wednesday, July 13, meeting in Jacksonville.

FWC commissioners OK’d a final rule to set the recreational fishing season dates for gag grouper in Florida’s Gulf waters from Sept. 1 to Nov. 10, effective Jan. 1, 2023.

According to the FWC, the modification is intended to prevent overfishing, improve stock abundance, and help ensure future fishing opportunities. It’s also consistent with pending regulations in adjacent federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico."
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Old 07-20-2022, 08:45 AM   #60
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Re: The Collapse of the Gulf of Mexico Grouper Fishery

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Looks like FWC is starting the understand the Gag Grouper problem in the Gulf.

"Commissioners of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, or FWC, approved the measures during their Wednesday, July 13, meeting in Jacksonville.

FWC commissioners OK’d a final rule to set the recreational fishing season dates for gag grouper in Florida’s Gulf waters from Sept. 1 to Nov. 10, effective Jan. 1, 2023.

According to the FWC, the modification is intended to prevent overfishing, improve stock abundance, and help ensure future fishing opportunities. It’s also consistent with pending regulations in adjacent federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico."
Apparently so. Based on what we have seen in the northeastern gulf, this reaction is about 5 years late. The gag population bottomed out about 2016/2017 up here and has been making a steady recovery since then, although definitely not up to par with where the gag population was in the early 2000s. This huge reduction seems to be somewhat of an over-reaction, but I'd rather have a healthy fishery vs the alternative.

There are a lot of factors that go into the population - fishing pressure, environmental factors, recruitment of fish into adults, - much of it is out of human control and that is why we regularly see fish populations "cycle" up and down without changes to bag limits and seasons.

Hopefully this helps and we can get back to a longer season in a few years. I love me some gag grouper.
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