Louisiana’s recreational anglers are encouraged to attend a Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council public hearing in Kenner Thursday evening to discuss red snapper allocation.
The meeting will be held at La Quinta Inn and Suites at 2610 Williams Boulevard starting at 6 p.m.
The Gulf Council is currently considering Reef Fish Amendment 28, which offers several different allocation options between recreational anglers and commercial snapper fishermen.
At last month’s Gulf Council meeting in Houston, members voted for Alternative Five as their preferred alternative, which states that if the red snapper quota is less than or equal to 9.12 million pounds, the current 51-percent commercial and 49-percent recreational split will be maintained.
However, Alternative Five also specifies that if the red snapper quota is greater than 9.12 million pounds, then 75-percent of the excess of 9.12 million pounds will be allocated to the recreational sector, while the remaining 25-percent of the excess would go to the commercial sector.
Last year’s quota was slightly more than 11 million pounds.
“It’s very important that the recreational angling public get to this meeting and have their voices heard by the Gulf Council,” said David Cresson, executive director for Coastal Conservation Association Louisiana. “On this particular issue, we’ve been getting he short end of the stick for 30 years and there’s been some positive developments recently, but it’s important that the Gulf Council knows where the public stands.
“This alternative doesn’t take fish from anybody. It doesn’t take fish off of America’s table. It doesn’t take fish from the restaurants. It simply shifts some of the overage to the recreational sector, which has been dealing with allocation inequity for 30 years now.”
At February’s council meeting, members voted 9 to 6 and selected Alternative Five as their preferred option.
“I think it bears noting that all five state fisheries directors, the scientists, voted to make Alternative Five the preferred alternative,” Cresson said. “Not only did you have the recreational fishing representatives vote for this, you also had the scientists vote for this, which should tell you a lot.”
Randy Pausina, head of fisheries for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and an outspoken critic of federal management of red snapper in the Gulf, said it is important for recreational anglers to attend the hearing and voice their concerns.
“In my opinion, the recreational anglers need to come and make it perfectly clear on the public record in public comment that this is what they want,” Pausina said. “Because if not, other people are going to go on record saying what they want.”
Myron Fischer, a council member representing Louisiana, said the final vote on reallocation will be taken by the council later this spring, and if Alternative Five passes, it probably wouldn’t go into effect until next year.
“It would be in effect for 2015, if the council didn’t stall. If it went along at a normal pace,” Fischer said.
Fischer also pointed out that Louisiana anglers will get another opportunity to address the full council to discuss red snapper allocation on April 7-11, when they meet at the Embassy Suites at 4914 Constitution Avenue in Baton Rouge for their regular monthly meeting.
Online comments for Amendment 28 also can be submitted here.