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Red Snapper Management Tool

Full Title: A decision support tool for evaluating the impacts of short- and long-term management decisions on the Gulf of Mexico red snapper resource

This project worked with fishery managers to develop a decision-support tool to assess the effectiveness of different long-term management strategies and short-term management regulations for the red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Team: Yuying Zhang (Lead Investigator, Florida International University,, Daniel Goethel (NOAA), Matthew Smith (NOAA), Laura Picariello (Texas Sea Grant), Yong Chen (Stony Brook University), Luiz Barbieri (Fish and Wildlife Research Institute), Christina Verlinde (Florida Sea Grant), and Juan Ager (NOAA Southeast Fisheries Science Center)

Technical Monitor: John Froeschke (

Federal Program Officer/Point of Contact: Frank Parker (

This project began in June 2017 and ended in May 2022.

Award Amount: $528,945

Why it matters: The management of red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico has been challenging and recent stock assessment reports have stated the need for a management strategy evaluation tool. This tool is needed to test the effectiveness of different long-term management strategies and short-term management regulations to meet the goals for the fishery.

What the team did:  In stage one, a computer model of the fishery and all its components, which includes information from the current stock assessment and snapper management plan, was developed and validated to serve as the foundation of the tool. In stage two, the tool development team conducted simulations using the model to evaluate its performance in assessing various management strategies, such as long-term harvest control and short-term regulations. Throughout the development of the tool, the team sought input and recommendations for the group of expected end-users, including the Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council and various state and federal agencies. In stage three, the development team worked with these end-users to construct the graphical user interface and conduct outreach and promotion of the tool with stakeholders.

Summary of Outcome: This project developed a web-based management strategy evaluation (MSE) tool for the Gulf of Mexico (GoM) Red Snapper fisheries.

  1. This MSE tool is factually correct and consistent with the Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council (GMFMC) management framework. It focuses on the following detailed management decisions: How scientific uncertainty should be adopted when calculating OFL? When determining the ABC from OFL, what probability of overfishing is acceptable? What buffers should be used to reduce ACT from ACL? How effective are the carryovers and paybacks provisions in rebuilding fisheries stocks? What should be the allocations among the commercial and recreational sectors, as well as for-hire and private angling components within the recreational sector? For maximum utilization of the fishery resources, what is the best ratio for splitting the private fishing quota among the five Gulf States?
  2. The MSE tool has friendly graphical user interfaces that facilitate scenario inputs, as well as powerful output visualizations that provide insight to management. Two versions of input interfaces were developed for stakeholders with different backgrounds.
  3. The web-based tool provided a platform for end-users to compare their management scenarios and communicate.
  4. A key advantage of this MSE tool is its ability to incorporate various forms of uncertainty that might affect the fish life history, fisheries stock assessment, and management. The uncertainties might be process errors coming from unclear biological and fisheries process parameters, observation errors caused by imperfect observation, assessment errors due to the imprecise estimation in stock assessment, and implementation errors that arise as the result of mismatches between the intended management decisions and real management.
  5. Parallel computing techniques greatly reduce the simulation time. The framework of the MSE tool can future be applied to other species, not only within the GoM, but also across other ecosystems. 

Other Resources

Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper Management Strategy Evaluation Tool: An interactive web-based decision-support tool for better management of the Gulf of Mexico red snapper fishery.

  • This project has been highlighted as example in the National Academies book Data and Management Strategies for Recreational Fisheries with Annual Catch Limits (2021) Chapter 5 (Page 154-156), 
  • This project has been highlighted as an example simulation framework to assess management trade-offs associated with recreational harvest slots, discard mortality reduction, and bycatch accountability in a multi-sector fishery (Bohaboy et al., 2022)