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Gulf of Mexico gillnet fishery

Current Classification on the 2017 LOF

Category II
Estimated Number of Participants 248
Target Species black drum, sheepshead, weakfish, mullet, spot, croaker, king mackerel, Spanish mackerel, Florida pompano, flounder, shark, menhaden, bluefish, blue runner, ladyfish, spotted seatrout, croaker, kingfish, and red drum
Applicable Take Reduction Plans N/A
Observer Coverage N/A
Marine Mammal Species/Stocks Killed or Injured Bottlenose dolphin, GMX bay, sound, and estuarine;
Bottlenose dolphin, Northern GMX coastal;
Bottlenose dolphin, Western GMX coastal

^ Number of participants estimates are based on state and federal fisheries permit data.  The estimated number of participants is expressed in terms of the number of active participants in the fishery, when possible.  If this information is not available, the estimated number of vessels or persons licensed for a particular fishery is provided.  If no recent information is available on the number of participants, then the number from the most recent LOF is used.  NMFS acknowledges that, in some cases, these estimations may be inflating actual effort.  

*Observer coverage levels include the latest information reported in the most current final Stock Assessment Report (SAR)

1Indicates the stock or species is driving the classification of the fishery 

Note: Current classification based on final LOF, no proposed changes are reflected in this table.

Basis for Current Classification

Primarily by analogy with other Category I and II Atlantic gillnet fisheries, as well as stranding data Gulf of Mexico (GMX) bottlenose dolphin stocks showing signs of interaction with gillnets, and a recommendation from the Atlantic Scientific Review Group (SRG) to elevate unless there were data to the contrary


This fishery operates year-round in waters north of the U.S.-Mexico border and west of the fishery management council demarcation line between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.

Gear Description

This fishery uses any type of gillnet configuration, including strike and straight gillnets.


Gillnet gear is prohibited in Texas and Florida state waters, but fixed and runaround gillnets are currently used in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama with highly variable fishing effort. Fishing for king mackerel, Spanish mackerel, cobia, cero, little tunny, dolphin fish, and bluefish are managed under the Coastal Migratory Pelagic Resources Fishery Management Plan (CMPR FMP). In the Gulf of Mexico, CMPR FMP species are the only federally managed species for which gillnet gear is authorized, and only run-around gillnetting for these species is allowed. In state waters, state and Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission Interstate FMPs apply.


Historical Information

Original Category (Year added to the LOF) III (1996)
Original Number of Participants 724
Basis for Original Classification This fishery was created and listed as Category III by combining 3 Category III fisheries, the "Gulf of Mexico inshore gillnet", "Gulf of Mexico coastal gillnet", and the Gulf of Mexico portion of the "Gulf of Mexico king and Spanish mackerel gillnet." NMFS proposed to elevate the fishery to Category II based on analogy with other gillnet fisheries because of a recommendation by the Atlantic SRG and a NOAA memo indicating available stranding data underestimates human-related mortality of multiple GMX stocks of bottlenose dolphins. NMFS did not reclassify the fishery for the 2001 LOF because conclusive stock structure information for the GMX stocks of bottlenose dolphins was not available, and the fishery had not yet been observed. Instead, NMFS reevaluated existing data, continued monitoring the fishery, and collected additional information for possible reclassification on future LOFs.
Past Names "Gulf of Mexico inshore gillnet", "Gulf of Mexico coastal gillnet", and the "Gulf of Mexico king and Spanish mackerel gillnet.”
Species/stocks historically documented as killed or injured (but not currently on the list) Bottlenose dolphin, Eastern GMX coastal


Timeline of Changes

  • Estimated number of participants updated from 724 to 248.
  • Added a superscript “2” after this fishery in Table 2, indicating that the fishery is categorized by analogy. Although the 2003 LOF showed that two stocks of bottlenose dolphins (Charlotte Harbor and Mississippi Sound) had serious injury and mortality levels that were more than 1% and less than 50% of Potential Biological Removal (PBR), this fishery is considered a Category II by analogy because the PBR levels for these two stocks could no longer be calculated as of the 2005 SARs because the stock abundance information was outdated. Therefore, this fishery remained a Category II fishery by analogy to other Category II gillnet fisheries.
  • Elevated to Category II based primarily on available stranding data of bottlenose dolphins with indications of interactions with gillnet gear, and a recommendation from the Atlantic SRG to elevate the fishery, unless there was data to the contrary. Bottlenose dolphin stocks in this area occur in relatively discrete communities, so PBR levels were calculated for each smaller stock when able. From 1997-2000, stranding network members recovered 39 bottlenose dolphins (from the GMX bay, sound, and estuarine stock, which is broken into 33 smaller stocks based on geographic area), with up to 12 showing evidence of gillnet interactions. Of the 12, 5 deaths were clearly attributable to gillnet gear, or 1.25 animals/year. Of the 5 deaths, 1 was from Charlotte Harbor (PBR=1.5), or 17% of PBR; 2 were from the Mississippi Sound (PBR=13), or 4% of PBR; 1 was from the Mississippi River Delta where abundance estimates were unknown; and 1 was from Vermillion Bay where abundance estimates were also unknown. Based on the 3 deaths that could be attributed to a stock, serious injury and mortality was more than 1% and less than 50% PBR.


Updated December 14, 2016