U.S. Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., and Roger Wicker, R-Miss., have filed their bipartisan Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper Conservation Act as an amendment to the sportsmen’s bill that the Senate is currently debating. The bill would transfer the authority for managing red snapper and setting the season length from the federal government to Gulf Coast states and was developed in close coordination with the five Gulf Coast state chapters of the Coastal Conservation Association, including David Cresson, Executive Director, CCA Louisiana. This year’s season was nine days, down from 40 days last year. A vote to add Sen. Landrieu’s bill to the larger sportsman’s legislation could come this week.
Today’s action follows Sen. Landrieu’s successful efforts last month to secure funding and essential reforms to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the federal agency that regulates Gulf fisheries, that will prevent another needlessly short season based on faulty and inaccurate fish counts.
“The old system governing recreational fishing for red snapper is unquestionably broken. If we needed any more proof that Congress needs to pass the Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper Conservation Act, just look at this year’s inexplicably short nine-day season—despite rising stocks! Louisiana and other Gulf Coast states have proven that we can successfully collect accurate and reliable data and manage our red snapper fisheries,” Sen. Landrieu said. “I urge senators from both parties to support by adding this common sense bill to the sportsman’s legislation. Coastal economies rely on charter operators, marinas and recreational anglers to pump $12 billion into the Gulf economy every year, and they deserve regular, reliable seasons. Louisiana fisherman and visitors from all over the world shouldn’t be punished for a federal bureaucracy that can’t understand that more fish should mean more opportunities to fish.”
The Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper Conservation Act of 2013 (S.1161) addresses an rule-making process that was rejected by a Federal court in Texas last year for impermissibly discriminating against citizens of different states. The bill is also consistent with the efforts of the Gulf Coast Governors to promote responsible regional management.
In May, Sen. Landrieu and David Cresson, Executive Director of the Coastal Conservation Association of Louisiana, met with U.S. Senator Mark Begich, D-AK, Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard, to urge Senate action on the Red Snapper Conservation Act.
Last year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued three separate red snapper seasons for Gulf Coast States, wreaking havoc on the recreational fishing industry that cost billions to the regional economy.