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Conservation group comments on red snapper hearing

The Center for Coastal Conservation released a statement about the congressional hearing on federal management failures in the Gulf of Mexico red snapper fishery.

The Center for Coastal Conservation released a statement about the congressional hearing on federal management failures in the Gulf of Mexico red snapper fishery.

The hearing on the proposed Gulf States Red Snapper Management Authority Act was held Thursday in Washington before the House Natural Resources subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans.

“We learned a few things in today’s hearing, but the take-home message is that federal management of the Gulf red snapper remains mired in chaos,” Center for Coastal Conservation president Jeff Angers said in a statement.

There had been widespread agreement among the recreational angling community and all five Gulf states to hand management of red snapper catches to the states, and “despite a wave of pre-hearing propaganda, we learned that most charter operators are in favor of the state management because they, too, want an end to the current federal management program of privatization,” Angers wrote.

Angers went on to say that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s data conflicts with what anglers and marine scientists are seeing. “NOAA’s representatives asked Congress to believe that snapper stock is still only half rebuilt and will not fully recover until 2032,” Angers wrote.

States are using monitoring methods to ensure the sustainability of the snapper fishery and let every segment of the fishing community have an equal share of the harvest, Angers said.

“It is not fair that America’s sportsmen, who voluntarily give $1.5 billion annually toward rebuilding fish species and protecting their habitat, are being kept at the water’s edge now that the snapper population is healthy again,” Angers wrote. “Congress should act quickly to pass this important measure that will give legal recognition to the historic cooperative agreement by the Fish and Wildlife agencies of the five Gulf States — Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas — to assume management of the Gulf red snapper.”

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is asking anglers to provide input to help shape fishery management at a series of public hearings — the first of which was held Thursday. Click here to find out when additional Florida meetings are occurring.

“Big changes to Gulf recreational red snapper management could be coming — here’s your chance to weigh in and make sure your voice is heard,” the FWC said on its website. “The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council is holding public hearings on a proposal known as regional management that could give states a larger role in red snapper management in federal waters.”

The Florida commission will discuss regional management and review comments from the public hearings at a Nov. 18-19 meeting in Panama City.

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