Effects of management on the recreational Snapper-Grouper fishery of the southeast United States

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Hawk, Marin
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The goal of federal fisheries management is to "achieve and maintain, on a continuing basis, the optimum yield from each fishery" so fisheries can provide public benefit to current stakeholders and future generations (Magnuson-Stevens Act 1976, 16USC section 1801(b)(4)). To achieve these goals, fisheries managers have a variety of tools at their disposal, including bag limits and size limits. While many studies have investigated the success of these management tools in freshwater systems, few have investigated their effectiveness in marine systems. My thesis aimed to determine if bag and size limits set for black sea bass, vermilion snapper, and red porgy altered total catch, total effort, harvest-per-unit-effort (HPUE), discards or mean length of harvested fish in the marine recreational fishery in the southeastern United States. Using recreational fishery-dependent (MRFSS/MRIP and headboat) data, I investigated management regulation changes that affected the response metrics using several statistical analyses. The results indicate that size limits contributed to an increase in discards, and a subsequent decrease in harvest, as well as an increase in mean length of harvested fish. The management impact on HPUE and effort were less obvious, and it is likely that other external factors influence those metrics, often overshadowing the effects of management.
Thesis (M.S.) College of Charleston, South Carolina-The Graduate School, 2012
Committee members: John Carmichael, Joseph Ballenger, Lindeke Mills, Amy Schueller
fishery, management evaluation, recreational, Snapper-Grouper, South Atlantic fishery
Fisheries and aquatic sciences, Natural resource management, Environmental management