May 5, 2016

Gulf Anglers Explore Improved Management Options for Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper

On April 18-19, recreational fishing community representatives met as part of a multi-phase process to identify strategies for addressing current and future Gulf of Mexico red snapper management challenges. Facilitated by Florida State University’s FCRC Consensus Center, the third meeting of the Gulf Angler Focus Group Initiative produced constructive discussion on the current condition of Gulf red snapper management and potential options for improving recreational fishing opportunities while ensuring fishery sustainability.

In recent years, decreasing season lengths in federal waters for Gulf red snapper have created increasing frustration among anglers with federal management of the fishery. To address this problem, the Gulf Angler Focus Group Initiative is developing strategies for more effective engagement of the recreational fishing community with the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council and preferred management options for red snapper and other reef fish fisheries. The initial phase of the Gulf Angler Focus Group Initiative includes a series of focus group meetings to help develop consensus within the recreational fishing community on these topics.

During the recent meeting, representatives of the recreational fishing community discussed with NOAA Fisheries staff the scientific, policy and political factors that have contributed to the current status of red snapper management. Afterwards, the group held a facilitated discussion to identify preliminary alternative management options. The Gulf Angler Focus Group Initiative will continue throughout the course of 2016, ultimately producing a consensus package of alternative recreational fisheries management recommendations to be submitted to the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council and the five state fisheries managers from the Gulf region as appropriate.

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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