Federal fisheries managers implemented state authority to manage recreational red snapper fishing in Gulf of Mexico states, the result of a multiyear effort to give local authorities jurisdiction over the highly sought-after fish.
NOAA Fisheries established the program on Thursday, cementing management changes in the “Reef Fish Amendment 50: State Management for Recreational Red Snapper.”
The amendment issued an exempting fishing permit to Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, allowing them to manage the private recreational red snapper fishery in 2018 and 2019
Recreational fishing advocates had worked for years to give states control over management after federally mandated recreational seasons had been slashed to three days in some cases.
Fishing advocates celebrated the move championed by a Republican coalition that included Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., Reps. Garrett Graves and Steve Scalise, both of Louisiana, and Georgia Rep. Austin Scott.
“Over the past two years, private recreational red snapper anglers in the Gulf have become more active partners in the states’ data collection systems and enjoyed much longer red snapper seasons than the federal system was able to provide,” said Center for Sportfishing Policy president Jeff Angers in a statement.
At a Gulf Council meeting in January, each state gave a report on its data-collection program and emphasized its ability to incorporate local factors into harvest data so it could adjust the season.
“State management of Gulf red snapper has been a game-changer for anglers,” said American Sportfishing Association Southeast fisheries policy director Kellie Ralston. “Because of their targeted data collection and their ability to quickly respond to what’s going on in-season, each of the Gulf states has been able to provide substantial red snapper seasons for the private recreational sector.”