Representatives of the recreational fishing community recently held their second in-person meeting to plan strategies for addressing Gulf of Mexico red snapper management challenges.
The two-day meeting, facilitated by Florida State University’s FCRC Consensus Center, produced discussion about Gulf red snapper and reef fish management as a whole, as well as consensus positions on two timely issues facing federal fishery managers.
“The Gulf Angler Focus Group presents a more unified recreational fishing community that will result in clear management recommendations to ensure healthy red snapper and reef fish stocks while providing equitable and reasonable public access,” Kellie Ralston, Florida fishing policy director for the American Sportfishing Association, said in a statement. “We are bringing together a broad representation of recreational fishing interests, through a professionally led facilitation process, in a way that will be difficult for managers to ignore.”
In recent years, decreasing recreational fishing opportunities for Gulf red snapper have caused the recreational fishing community to become increasingly frustrated with federal management of the fishery.
The Gulf Angler Focus Group consists of representatives of angler organizations, unaffiliated private anglers, for-hire operators and recreational fishing industry members.
In consultation with all five state fisheries managers from the Gulf region, the focus group is developing a package of consensus management recommendations by the recreational sector for reasonable access and sustainable harvest of Gulf reef fish, with an emphasis on the red snapper fishery.
“The Gulf Angler Focus Group provides a real opportunity to build consensus among the various segments of the angling community on the future of recreational fisheries management in the Gulf of Mexico,” said Chris Horton, fisheries program director for the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation. “We continue to support legislative efforts to increase the states’ role in managing the fishery, and are organized at the regional level to counter increasing efforts to limit anglers’ opportunities on the water.”
The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, the body charged with developing fishery management plans for the region’s federal waters, will meet Jan. 25-28 in Orange Beach, Ala.