Gulf States Given Rights to Manage Recreational Red Snapper Fishing Under New Rule

The passage of new amendment provides Gulf states with more flexibility to set seasons that work for their anglers, all while ensuring accountability

February 5, 2020
Tad Segal, (202) 572-3549

(WASHINGTON – Feb. 5, 2020) The Department of Commerce today approved the passage of Amendment 50, effective Feb. 6, 2020, giving the five Gulf states the authority to manage private recreational red snapper fishing in federal waters as well as state waters so long as they adhere to science-based quotas. This delegation shows that the Magnuson-Stevens Act provides the flexibility for regional decision-makers to customize solutions while protecting federal resources for all to enjoy.

The amendment allocates specific amounts of red snapper quota to each state, which then set their own seasons and monitor harvest levels. If catch exceeds the state-specific limit, the overage must be repaid in the following year from the same state’s quota. This flexible system is designed to prevent overfishing while giving each state the authority to manage as it sees fit.

Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) applauds the collective work of the Department of Commerce, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, the Gulf states and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in enacting this new approach.

 “As a long-time angler in the Gulf, I am cautiously optimistic, but optimistic nonetheless. This decision allows for local control of an important resource while also increasing expectations for accountability. The passage of this amendment incentivizes each Gulf state to responsibly manage recreational access while also continuing to rebuild the red snapper fishery. There is still work to be done, however, to integrate federal and state data collection to prevent overfishing, which could harm access for all user groups,” said Sepp Haukebo, manager of private angler reform, EDF. “The states and NOAA now have to reconcile their data collection programs to establish a ‘common currency’ by which we can measure total recreational harvests across the Gulf.”

EDF will continue to work with state and federal authorities to ensure responsible red snapper management and advance successful models for recreational data collection. Continuing to invest in more timely and accurate data collection across U.S. fisheries will benefit fisheries management for the anglers of today and future generations to come.

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