June 17, 2015
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – The Senate Appropriations Committee recently approved Sen. Richard Shelby's (R-Ala.) proposed Fiscal Year 2016 Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations Bill. The bill included a number of provisions that attempt to address the ongoing mismanagement of the Gulf of Mexico red snapper fishery that has resulted in the current 10-day season for private recreational anglers.
“Senator Shelby’s provisions mark significant progress in addressing the combination of insufficient angler data collection, an inaccurate stock assessment and poor management decisions that have all but eliminated private anglers’ access in federal waters to the wildly popular and economically critical red snapper fishery,” said Scott Gudes, vice president, Government Affairs, the American Sportfishing Association (ASA). “Once again, Senator Shelby has demonstrated his leadership and his expertise in the legislative process to help anglers and recreational fishing-dependent businesses across the Gulf of Mexico.”
The appropriations bill funding the Departments of Commerce, Justice, State and Related Agencies includes language secured by Sen. Shelby that:
- Increases the role of state fisheries managers in Alabama, Mississippi and Texas by expanding state waters to nine miles.
- Dedicates additional funding to alternative approaches to data collection and assessments.
- Recognizes the disparity created by current Gulf red snapper management decisions and urges NOAA Fisheries to provide 80 percent of all increases in total allowable catch to recreational anglers for the purpose of increasing days on the water.
“This is the latest example of Congressional leaders attempting to rectify the broken management of Gulf red snapper,” said Mike Leonard, ASA's Ocean Resource Policy director. “In the House, Representatives Austin Scott (R-Ga.) and Garret Graves (R-La.) secured language in the CJS funding bill that will keep the recreational fishing community intact, and address inequity in seasons between the commercial and recreational sectors. Separately, Representative Graves, along with Senator David Vitter (R-La.), continue to champion transferring management of Gulf red snapper to the five Gulf states, which are much better equipped to manage this fishery than NOAA Fisheries.”
Leonard also noted a recent letter sent by Sens. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) to NOAA Administrator Kathy Sullivan expressing concern with the abbreviated Gulf red snapper season and calling for an extension based on available data.
“All of these actions are positive and important steps in addressing the continued mismanagement of a vital public resource that is critical to the Gulf coast economy and saltwater anglers,” Gudes concluded.