Convinced that current management efforts to recover red snapper stocks are destined to fail, the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) has petitioned the secretary of commerce to put emergency measures into effect to end the overfishing of this species by the Gulf of Mexico shrimp fleet.
Every year more than 80 percent of juvenile red snapper, at an average size of 4 inches, are caught and killed in shrimp trawls. To date, recovery plans have been predicated on bycatch reduction devices developed in the 1990s, which held the promise of reducing bycatch by at least 40 percent. However, studies last spring by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) revealed that BRDs had achieved only a 12-percent reduction. Noncompliance by the shrimping industry was cited as the main reason for the failure of the BRD to achieve the target reduction.
Given bycatch reduction of 12 percent, even the complete elimination of the directed red snapper fishery, both commercial and recreational, would fail to generate a recovery of the stock within the next 100 years. CCA’s petition is asking the Department of Commerce to exercise its authority to immediately implement a diverse and effective array of management tools, including bycatch quotas, area closures, seasonal closures and effort reduction measures, to achieve significant bycatch reduction on the order of 60 to 80 percent.
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