The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council voted to delegate authority over recreational red snapper fishing in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas federal waters to those states.
Keep Florida Fishing, an advocacy arm of the American Sportfishing Association, praised the council’s action last week related to ‘Reef Fish Amendment 50: State Management for Recreational Red Snapper.’
“Approval of the state management amendment is the culmination of a multi-year, dedicated effort by ASA, partner organizations, state agencies and Congress to put the Gulf states in the driver’s seat for managing private recreational anglers,” said ASA government affairs vice president Mike Leonard in a statement.
“After years of decreasing fishing seasons despite a rebuilding red snapper stock, it was clear that the status quo federal management approach was broken,” said Leonard. “Allowing the states to set regulations and use their superior angler harvest surveys will provide more equitable access, benefitting the recreational fishing industry for years to come.”
Last year, NOAA Fisheries issued exempted fishing permits allowing each of the five Gulf States to set their own season for red snapper in state and federal waters during 2018 and 2019.
Because of the success of the 2018 seasons, which provided 40 days of fishing in Florida, the council began working towards a long-term solution for state management of private anglers.
“The exempted fishing permits that expanded access for anglers by allowing each Gulf state to set their own season for red snapper in state and federal waters have been a huge success,” said ASA Southeast fisheries policy director Kellie Ralston. “We appreciate the Council making this pilot project permanent by taking final action on Reef Fish Amendment 50.”
Each state will be allocated the portion of the recreational quota it initially requested in the 2018-2019 exempted fishing permit application. The breakdown follows:
- Alabama — 26.298 percent
- Florida — 44.822 percent
- Louisiana — 19.12 percent
- Mississippi — 3.55 percent
- Texas — 6.21 percent
The remaining 3.78 percent will be distributed between Florida and Alabama.