Once again, if you blink you might miss it.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Tuesday released a ridiculously short three-day recreational red snapper season in federal waters next month: June 1 through the third, which includes exactly one Friday and Saturday of fishing.
A press release from NOAA stated that recreational quota in 2016 was exceeded by more than 129,000 pounds, so that quota must be “paid back” by private anglers this year.
Chris Macaluso, marine fisheries director for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, said it’s a classic example of federal mismanagement.
“Recreational red snapper fishing continues to be the primary example of why there needs to be innovation in recreational fisheries management on the federal side. I think this is just another indication of what we’ve been saying and the reason why organizations like TRCP and CCA and American Sportfishing and so many others are tying to work to find a better approach,” Macaluso said. “This is just another example of how a management system that was created entirely to manage commercial fisheries is failing the recreational fisheries.
“And it seems ironic that as the states develop better management systems and the states become more involved in the management of those fish, the federal government blames those states, in a way, for making access to the fish more difficult in federal waters.”
The recreational red snapper season in Louisiana waters opened on Feb. 1 and continues until further notice. According to NOAA, more than 80 percent of the annual catch target for recreational anglers is caught during state seasons across the Gulf.
“Every year the federal season gets shorter and shorter and that’s just a reflection of a management system that’s ill-suited to manage a recreational fishery. But we’re trying to fix it,” Macaluso continued. “I think if the federal government would adopt a management approach like Louisiana has with LA Creel, you could see significantly greater access to this resource than three days in federal waters.
“This gets to the heart of why states are asking to be able to manage the fish out to 200 miles. Because we have a better way of accounting for it, and LA creel demonstrates that it can be done without having to resort to some kind of tag or lottery or IFQ system for recreational fisherman. You don’t need that to properly manage a fishery.”
Since catches in both state and federal waters count against the quota, the season was calculated at three days for private anglers and 49 days for charter captains.
The season officially ends at 12:01 a.m. on June 4.