The Recreational Fishing Alliance is calling for an immediate moratorium on any closures to the recreational harvest of red snapper until better scientific analysis can be conducted.
"The current management of red snapper in the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico has failed," said Jim Donofrio, executive director of the RFA.
Donofrio says red snapper are more abundant today than at any time in the last 25 years, in waters varying from 30- to 240-foot depths. Yet, an overly restrictive management process continues to deny public access primarily because of a defective data collection method, he said.
In a recent letter to U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., Donofrio wrote, "RFA is requesting that you appeal to the Obama administration to suspend recreational closures for snapper and grouper until the primary recreational data collection program can be improved to such a level appropriate for management purposes and necessary advancements to the [stock assessment] process can be made."
The RFA is asking legislators to consider a two-pronged approach that addresses the immediate moratorium on recreational closures, while simultaneously urging support of a Senate bill to fix the Magnuson-Stevens Act.
"RFA contends MSA can be amended to allow a balance of conservation and access at the same time," Donofrio said. "RFA is supporting Representative Frank Pallone's bill, HR 1584, because it would achieve this critical and necessary balance."