Gulf Coast Governors Call on Congress to Give Management Control to States for Red Snapper Fishery

From www.FLgov.com.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Texas Governor Rick Perry, Florida Governor Rick Scott and Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant are calling on Congress to allow the states to take control over management of the red snapper fishery in the Gulf of Mexico. In a letter to Congressional leadership, the governors declared federal fisheries management “irretrievably” and seek passage of legislation that would reverse a situation that is negatively impacting the coastal economies and citizens of the Gulf Coast.

“After three decades under ineffective federal management, our citizens are left with a 9-day season for this iconic fish, and that is just an unacceptable outcome. Our own Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has worked constructively with user groups like the Coastal Conservation Association and shown how proper management can foster our wildlife resources to be vibrant economic engines for Louisiana,” Governor Jindal said. “We should not have to settle for over-arching, sub-par management of these resources by the federal government. The Gulf states have all proven they can do a far better job not only creating healthy fisheries, but providing greater access to them for our citizens. We are calling on Congress to give us the opportunity to do so.”

Governor Scott said, “As one of the top fishing destinations in the world, no one understands Florida fisheries better than state and local communities. The current unilateral, regulatory framework administered by the federal government for Red Snapper lacks flexibility and has undermined the expertise of our state fishery officials and local fishing communities. State officials, working in partnership with local communities are far better suited for protecting Red Snapper, while providing local economies with reasonable standards that allow families to pursue jobs in Florida’s bountiful waters.”

Governor Perry said, “Texas has proven the ability to manage and improve the health of fisheries in the Western Gulf, including red snapper. Establishing state-based management provides a pragmatic approach to regional management of this important resource.”

The letter to U.S. House and Senate leadership, signed by the governors’ states, “With a stock that is recovering steadily, our recreational anglers are being allowed to fish less and less, and there is no hint of willingness from NOAA Fisheries to deviate from this present, unsatisfactory course. As governors of Gulf states, we believe this confusing management is just the latest evidence of a federal management system that is irretrievably broken. We seek to establish a better fishery management approach for Gulf red snapper.”

Such an approach could be modeled after the highly successful Atlantic Striped Bass Conservation Act on the East Coast, and would establish a coordinated Gulf states partnership for red snapper management. The governors’ letter points out that, “State-based fishery management has proven to be far more effective, and has engineered some of the greatest marine conservation victories in the country, including red drum, speckled trout, snook and striped bass. It is in the national interest to implement procedures and measures to provide for effective inter-jurisdictional Gulf coastal state conservation and management of this species.”

Full Letter Below

Dear Majority Leader Reid, Speaker Boehner, Leader McConnell, and Leader Pelosi:

The Gulf of Mexico red snapper fishery has a historic and significant economic benefit to the Gulf states and the nation. However, federal management conflicts impacting both the commercial and recreational sectors have created a situation that is negatively impacting the coastal economies and citizens of our states.

In 2013, NOAA Fisheries has declared that recreational anglers in Texas will have a 12-day snapper season in federal waters, nine days in Louisiana, 28 days in Mississippi and Alabama, and 21 days in Florida. With a stock that is recovering steadily, our recreational anglers are being allowed to fish less and less, and there is no hint of willingness from NOAA Fisheries to deviate from this present, unsatisfactory course. As governors of Gulf states, we believe this confusing management is just the latest evidence of a federal management system that is irretrievably broken.

We seek to establish a better fishery management approach for Gulf red snapper based on effective interstate management measures coordinated by the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission (GSMFC). Modeled after the Atlantic Striped Bass Conservation Act, we believe a coordinated Gulf states partnership for red snapper management would be more capable of delivering a robust fishery that is more accessible for the citizens of our states. State-based fishery management has proven to be far more effective, and has engineered some of the greatest marine conservation victories in the country, including red drum, speckled trout, snook and striped bass. It is in the national interest to implement procedures and measures to provide for effective inter-jurisdictional Gulf coastal state conservation and management of this species.

After more than three decades under federal management, the red snapper fishery remains mired in confusion and turmoil. We are determined to find a constructive path to resolve this unsatisfactory situation, and seek your support of legislation to allow the states to take greater responsibilities in the management of fishery resources.