Conservation groups sue to protect Red Snapper, promote reform

Statement from Environmental Defense Fund

July 17, 2017
Matt Smelser, (202) 572-3272,

(Austin, Texas - July 17, 2017) Today, Environmental Defense Fund and other conservation groups filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia against a U.S. Department of Commerce decision that jeopardizes the ongoing recovery of Gulf red snapper by increasing the federal private angler fishing season thirteen-fold.

The Commerce Department decision puts red snapper recovery at risk, jeopardizing fishing businesses and recreational fishing for the species. It also violates several provisions of federal law. No scientific analysis accompanied the decision, but publicly available data and conservative assumptions show the extended season will result in private anglers catching three times their science-based limit. The lawsuit does not seek to change the length of the 2017 season, but instead seeks to prohibit the Department of Commerce from taking future similar actions that continue to jeopardize the species.

The following is a statement from Robert Jones, Director of Environmental Defense Fund’s Gulf of Mexico Oceans Program:

“The way we manage recreational red snapper fishing stinks, and saltwater anglers like me are demanding change.

“The recovery of the species is an incredible opportunity. I was recently offshore from Galveston and the water is teeming with red snapper. But instead of anglers and recreational fishing businesses reaping the benefits, we are stuck in a downward spiral of failure. This lawsuit is about catalyzing change.

“Year-round state-water seasons combined with miniscule federal seasons suffocate our access to the best offshore fishing grounds. And I sure as heck don’t want to return to the days when my dad and I could barely find a red snapper due to decades of overfishing. What we demand is innovative, solutions-oriented reform that harnesses new approaches like Louisiana’s LA Creel program, gives us flexible access, and ensures that future generations of Americans can enjoy the thrill of catching red snapper.”

# # #

Environmental Defense Fund (, a leading international nonprofit organization, creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. EDF links science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships. Connect with us on EDF Voices, Twitter and Facebook.