Today, US Senators Bill Cassidy, MD (R-LA) and John Kennedy (R-LA) introduced the Red Snapper Act of 2017 to address long-term solutions for red snapper recreational management in the private recreational sector. Earlier this year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced a three-day red snapper season for private, recreational anglers. The US Department of Commerce later extended the federal season an additional 39 days.
“A long-term solution is overdue. While the health of the red snapper fishery improved, access for recreational fisherman and Louisiana families declined,” said Dr. Cassidy. “The Red Snapper Act ensures better management and protections to keep the fishery thriving.”
“The current federal-only management of red snapper has been a disaster. Our recreational fisherman have been unfairly left out of the decisions, and they deserve a seat at the table,” said Sen. Kennedy. “It makes no sense to leave people who don’t know the difference between a red snapper and a red nose reindeer in complete control. Our bill aims to fix this problem by allowing the Gulf states to set recreational seasons and empowering decision makers with more accurate data, which will help both conservation and access.”
The Red Snapper Act:
- Offers a balanced approach to address the management of Gulf red snapper in the private recreational sector
- Offers more access for recreational fisherman
- Includes environmental protections to conserve the species and ensure sustainable and responsible fishery management
- Empowers states in the management of the fishery
- Retains current state authority inside nine miles
- Grants state authority to set fishing seasons in a new area from nine miles to depths of 150 feet (25 fathoms) but no less than 25 miles
- Retains the current federal management of the federal charter and commercial fishing industry
- Includes resources to increase catch and release survival rates
- Establishes five measures to protect the species
- Creates a marine protected area for red snapper at depths below 150 feet
- Creates greater accountability for individual sectors that exceed catch limits
- Permits federal preemption of seasons in the new area
- Requires states to follow specific criteria in setting seasons in the new area, including the National Standards established in the Magnuson-Stevens Act
- Creates a new process to certify state recreational fisheries surveys and inclusion in NOAA’s analysis of the fishery’s health
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Representative Garret Graves (R-LA) introduced the companion legislation to the US House of Representatives. Representative Clay Higgins (R-LA) is cosponsoring that legislation.