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Legislation seeks changes to red snapper management

A bipartisan coalition led by U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., and Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., introduced legislation Thursday that seeks to change the federal management of red snapper fishing in four Gulf states.

The legislation comes after the governors of those states released a joint letter to House and Senate leadership arguing that the federal management of Gulf red snapper is “irretrievably broken” and calling for a coordinated Gulf states partnership for red snapper management, according to a statement.

“Federal management of red snapper has painted itself into a corner. We have a robust red snapper population in the Gulf, but 2013 was as chaotic a season as anglers have ever seen,” Center for Coastal Conservation president Jeff Angers said in a statement. “The season started as the shortest ever, saw a revolt by some states that resulted in even shorter seasons, endured a lawsuit, received a glowing stock assessment and the promise of a fall season, only to crash on wild estimates of over-harvest that put the fall season in jeopardy. This is no way to manage a fishery, and this legislation presents a way out of this no-win situation.”

Joining Miller and Richmond as original co-sponsors of the Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper Conservation Act were U.S. Reps. Charles Boustany, R-La.; Jeff Duncan, R-S.C.; Blake Farenthold, R-Texas; Bob Latta, R-Ohio; Pete Olson, R-Texas; Steven Palazzo, R-Miss.; Mike Rogers, R-Ala.; Steve Scalise, R-La.; Austin Scott, R-Ga.; Bennie Thompson, D-Miss.; Tim Walz, D-Minn.; Lynn Westmoreland, R-Ga., and Rob Wittman, R-Va.

Frustration over management compelled several Gulf states to seek greater control of the fishery in their own waters. In retaliation, the National Marine Fisheries Service used an emergency rule process to reduce the recreational season to nine days off Louisiana and 12 days off Texas. Both states sued and a federal court overturned the action.

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