A bill to improve management of red snapper in the Gulf
Today a bill was introduced in both chambers of Congress to change the way red snapper are managed in the Gulf of Mexico to give states more leeway in the management of the fishery. It’s called the Red Snapper Act, and original cosponsors include Senators Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and John Kennedy (R-La.); and Congressmen Garret Graves (R-La.); Cedric L. Richmond (D-La.); Randy K. Weber, Sr. (R-Texas); Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.); Blake Farenthold (R-Texas); Wm. Lacy Clay (D-Mo.); Clay Higgins (R-La.); Steven M. Palazzo (R-Miss.); Austin Scott (R-Ga.); and Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.).
The proposed legislation builds upon recent efforts to increase the role of the states by greatly extending offshore state boundaries for the purpose of private recreational red snapper management. The bill also contains measures to ensure that red snapper remain one of the healthiest fish stocks in the Gulf of Mexico. “The Center for Sportfishing Policy supports the Red Snapper Act because it better allows Americans access to America’s public fishery resources,” said Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Sportfishing Policy. “Where the Federal government has failed in providing access, state governments have excelled.” The RED SNAPPER Act would allow the five Gulf states to manage private recreational fishing seasons for red snapper within their existing nine-mile state territory as well as out to 25 miles or 25 fathoms, whichever is farther from shore. Fishing days beyond nine miles would have to be managed in accordance with the national standards and a Gulf-wide catch limit. The bill would also give more weight to state harvest data to help provide more timely information about catch rates and effort, as well as require the inclusion of non-federal data in determining the acceptable biological catch of red snapper. Commercial and charter fishing would remain under the federal system, with regulations developed by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council. “The RED SNAPPER Act balances access with sustainability to ensure the
stock remains healthy,” said Thom Dammrich, president of National Marine Manufacturers Association. “For years, the recreational saltwater fishing community has been asking for a management approach designed to manage recreational fishing and not just commercial fishing. This is a great first step in achieving that goal. Most importantly, it ensures conservation of the fishery, something anglers have always championed.” “This is an extremely complex and highly politicized fishery that has been manipulated by the federal management system into an unworkable condition for recreational anglers. We believe the only real solution is to give the states full management authority,” said Patrick Murray, president of Coastal Conservation Association. “This legislation initiates the process of moving the fishery away from a broken federal management system. We commend Rep. Graves and Sen. Cassidy for keeping the focus on fixing the red snapper problem and look forward to working with them to ensure the states are allowed to do what they do best – manage for the health of the resource and maximize the public’s access to it.”