Federal mismanagement and misallocation of the nation’s saltwater fisheries, specifically red snapper, were on full display last week with the potential decision to further restrict the federal recreational red snapper season to 11 days. The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council Reef Fish Committee’s decision to reduce the season to the fewest days in the history of the fishery was facilitated by a ruling of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) had improperly managed the recreational sector in 2013. The ruling stems from a lawsuit that was brought forth by 21 commercial fishermen, seafood processors and trade groups closely associated with the Environmental Defense Fund.
As the recreational season gets shorter, the red snapper population continues to grow larger and more abundant. This frustrating discrepancy, along with the fact that recreational fisheries management of red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico is now in the hands of the courts rather than professional fisheries managers, highlights the need for change in how we approach saltwater recreational fisheries management under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA). The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) is continuing to push for a more appropriate and effective model for recreational fisheries management while maintaining a strong commitment to marine fisheries conservation.
Recently, CSF hosted a breakfast briefing on Capitol Hill highlighting the release of “A Vision For Managing America’s Saltwater Recreational Fisheries,” which identifies the necessary framework for a marine fisheries management system that addresses the needs of anglers and the industry, while enhancing the full-range of economic, social and conservation benefits recreational fishing provides to the nation. Throughout the MSA reauthorization process, CSF will continue working with members of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus and the angling community to realize these simple, yet fundamental changes to the law or its interpretation that will ensure future generations of the American public have access to their recreational fisheries resources.
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?