June 30, 2016

Anglers applaud Gulf governors’ stance on red snapper bill

Texas, Mississippi governors offer support for state management of troubled Gulf fishery

Coastal Conservation Association and the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation are applauding the governors of Texas and Mississippi for letters to the leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives in support of HR 3094, a bill that would shift management of the Gulf red snapper fishery away from the federal government and replace it with a coordinated Gulf States partnership. HR 3094, sponsored by Congressman Garret Graves (LA), was approved by the House Committee on Natural Resources earlier this month and represents the best opportunity to deliver a robust fishery that is more accessible to the public.

“Texas rightfully takes a great deal of pride in our successful management of the fisheries, wildlife and marine resources entrusted to us by our citizens,” Texas Governor Greg Abbott states in his letter to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). “Our management programs have been designed to not only meet key conservation objectives but also provide access and opportunity for our citizens to enjoy them to the greatest extent possible. That is why I support H.R. 3094.”

Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant, who is also the Republican Chairman of the Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus, wrote, “Federal management of the red snapper fishery has penalized Mississippi anglers by imposing the shortest historical recreational red snapper seasons in federal waters. The [Mississippi Department of Marine Resources] has worked cooperatively with the marine resource agencies of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Texas to develop a plan that would allow states to use flexible management approaches to better manage red snapper for the people of Mississippi and for the long-term conservation of our red snapper resource.”

 Federal management of red snapper reached a new low in 2016 when the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council implemented a nine-day recreational season in federal waters, even though the snapper population appears to be booming. At the same time, federal management of the popular fishery is focused on privatization programs that provide significantly longer seasons for commercial and industrial components of the fishery.

“We are grateful to Gov. Abbott and Gov. Bryant for standing up not only for recreational anglers, but also for the principles that have been used to manage land-based wildlife and freshwaters resources so successfully in this country for decades,” said Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation President Jeff Crane. “We are confident that HR 3094 offers the best chance for a return to sensible management of this fishery.”

“The governors’ letters are a call for Congress to establish a better fishery management approach for Gulf red snapper based on a spirit of stewardship and cooperation rather than divisive, exclusionary tactics pitting one user group against another,” said Patrick Murray, president of Coastal Conservation Association. “Gov. Abbott and Gov. Bryant both clearly see the wisdom of Rep. Graves’ efforts on behalf of Gulf Coast citizens, and we are excited to have their support to ensure this sensible management model becomes law.”

Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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