Gulf Leaders Approve Plan for States to Manage Recreational Red Snapper Fishing

New program shows promise as a solution to improving access for Gulf anglers

April 4, 2019
Matthew Smelser, (202) 572-3272,

(Biloxi, MS – April 4, 2019) The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council took one step closer today to delegating management of private angler red snapper fishing to Gulf states. After years of shortening seasons, conflicting approaches by the states, and heated debates by political leaders, the Council has passed “Amendment 50” which establishes allocations of red snapper to each state and tasks them with setting seasons out to 200 miles and monitoring harvest levels.

EDF applauds the work of the Council, the Gulf states and the National Marine Fisheries Service to advance responsible reform in the private recreational red snapper fishery. The amendment will now be sent to the Secretary of Commerce where it is expected to be approved. This vote took place just in time, as 2019 is the last year of a federal pilot program where Gulf states were experimenting with their ability to manage the private recreational red snapper fishery.

The following is a statement from Sepp Haukebo, manager of private angler reform, Environmental Defense Fund:

“As a Gulf angler myself I am hopeful, but guarded as we move toward a solution that should allow us to spend more time fishing for red snapper and less time arguing over them. If approved by the Secretary of Commerce, Amendment 50 would provide the states with more flexibility to set seasons that work for their anglers. However, there are still some issues to address to ensure we don’t go back to the days of overfishing.

“While this is a solid step in the right direction, the states and NOAA now have to work together to reconcile their data to establish a “common currency” by which we can measure total recreational harvests across the Gulf. EDF will be watching closely to make sure the states do their part to submit accurate and timely harvest numbers. We have come too far in rebuilding the red snapper population to risk denying future generations a world class fishery.

“I’m also encouraged that this change removes the sunset on sector separation, a management tool that has led to greater access and accountability for federal-charter businesses and their customers since implementation. The passage of Amendment 50 is further evidence that the Magnuson-Stevens Act is working by giving regional councils the flexibility to customize solutions. Now the states will have the opportunity to manage their private anglers, while still being held accountable with state-by-state paybacks for overages if they do not abide by the science-based limits that have rebuilt the red snapper fishery in the Gulf.”

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