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House approves bill with red-snapper-season reforms

The U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation Thursday that would stop federal regulators from distinguishing between charter fishermen and private anglers.

The U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation Thursday that would stop federal regulators from distinguishing between charter fishermen and private anglers when considering red snapper allocation in the Gulf of Mexico.

In addition to defunding sector separation, the amendment prohibits the use of funds to enact any red snapper management measure that would allow an annual catch limit for red snapper resulting in the commercial red snapper fishing season lasting longer than five times the number of days allowed for recreational fishing.

Reps. Garret Graves, R-S.C., and Austin Scott, R-Ga., introduced H.R. 2578 as both try to transfer red snapper management to the five Gulf states and out of the federal regulatory jurisdiction of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“For the first time in many, many years, this is a win for recreational fishermen. Our amendment will ensure that our recreational fishers have the opportunity to enjoy red snapper,” Graves said in a statement.

“Earlier this week, we passed the Magnuson-Stevens fisheries bill to improve the science used to sustainably manage our Gulf resources,” Graves said. “Together, these bills will prevent the federal government from limiting recreational fishing to 10 days while continuing to protect our commercial and charter fishing industries.”

The Center for Coastal Conservation praised the legislation, with president Jeff Angers calling it “a real victory for recreational fishing — and the jobs recreational fishing creates.”

“The recreational red snapper fishery is an economic driver for coastal communities all along the Gulf of Mexico, and restricting fishing to just one weekend a year is like throwing a wet blanket on the economy of the entire region,” Angers said in a separate statement.

Angers said Amendment 40 created a “divide-and-conquer” strategy that pits the fishing community against itself.

“Reps. Scott and Graves continue to prove themselves true friends of recreational anglers, and all of us thank them for their leadership on our behalf,” Angers said.

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