On the heels of another unreasonably short recreational red snapper season in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico, on June 15 the House Natural Resources Committee passed H.R. 3094, the Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper Management Authority Act (H.R. 3094). Introduced by U.S. Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.), and with the support of 42 bipartisan co-sponsors, H.R. 3094 offers a proven, state-based solution to ensure America’s anglers have more than just nine days to access the healthiest population of Gulf red snapper in history.
“We are very grateful to Committee Chairman Rob Bishop, Congressman Graves and the Members of the Committee who voted for this bill and for better management of the Gulf red snapper fishery,” said Jeff Crane, president of Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation. “The current federal model is clearly not working, and it’s time for a more balanced approach to the management of this fishery.”
Congressman Graves’ bill will extend formal federal recognition to the historic agreement between the five Gulf States to accept joint responsibility for the management of the red snapper fishery in both state and federal waters. The bill also ensures the current individual quota shares of the commercial fishery are protected.
“After many years of disappointment, the strong bipartisan vote in favor of reforming Gulf red snapper management heralds a brighter future for marine recreational fishing,” said Center for Coastal Conservation President Jeff Angers. “Hopefully 2016 will be the last year anglers and coastal communities will have to endure the contorted federal mismanagement in this fishery.”
Through their highly successful management of species like red drum, speckled trout, snook and numerous others, the states have demonstrated they can effectively manage fisheries for both sustainability and access.
“The Natural Resources Committee’s overwhelming bipartisan passage of H.R. 3094 is clear validation of what we have argued over the years: federal management has failed recreational fishermen,” said Patrick Murray, president of Coastal Conservation Association. “The fact that you have Members of Congress, both Democrat and Republican, from across the nation supporting this legislation, shows that this fishery needs state-based innovation that this bill will provide.”
In light of the inability of the federal data collection system to accurately measure recreational angler harvest, all five Gulf States have implemented their own systems of angler data collection. These new programs, combined with their existing robust sampling procedures of the red snapper population itself, will position the states well to assume the new management responsibility.
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?