Today is the final day for the public to comment on a controversial plan that would allow Mississippi for-hire vessels to harvest 30,000 pounds of bull reds in federal waters.

NOAA Fisheries maintains the two-year plan would be to collect research data on the red drum stock, but David Cresson, executive director of Coastal Conservation Association - Louisiana, thinks the plan has come about for a different reason.

“Make no mistake, now matter how they dress this thing up and want to disguise it as a research project, it’s the result of terrible management of red snapper,” Cresson said. “The Mississippi charter captains are desperate for something for their customers to catch, and since they don’t have snapper, the next best thing in their eyes was to be able to catch breeding red drum in federal waters.

“Why anybody would want to keep a 35- or 40-inch or even bigger red drum, I’m not sure. But the fact is, this is the result of failed management of other species. So to fix the failure they’ve created, they want to implement another sure-to-fail policy.”

Cresson is worried that if the Mississippi plan is allowed to happen, other Gulf states might follow suit and ultimately impact the redfish population.

“That’s the breeding stock of red drum. Everybody knows the breeders go offshore and we’re fortunate enough to benefit with their offspring in our marshes,” he said. “If you start hammering the breeders offshore, certainly we’ll start seeing results inshore.

“It’s a terrible idea. We all want to see charter captains succeed and be successful in their businesses, but there are other ways we can help them achieve that without going after bull reds in federal waters. It’s fixing a problem by creating another problem.”

To comment on the Mississippi proposal to harvest bull reds in federal waters, click here