Bipartisan legislation that would pave the way for state-based management of the Gulf of Mexico red snapper fishery was introduced Thursday into the U.S. House of Representatives.
The bill by Garret Graves (R-La.) and Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) will extend formal federal recognition to the agreement between the chief fish and wildlife officials of all five Gulf states to accept joint responsibility for management of the red snapper fishery in federal waters.
Red snapper management is currently under the jurisdiction of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service.
“For too long, the federal government has relied on outdated and inaccurate information to unfairly limit recreational Gulf red snapper fishing to just a single weekend a year,” Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Coastal Conservation, said in a press release. “Representative Graves’ bill will improve recreational fishing opportunities and safeguard the thousands of Gulf jobs that depend on recreational red snapper fishing.”
The legislation would remove red snapper from federal authority and place responsibility for the species in the hands of the Gulf states through a new, independent body called the Gulf States Red Snapper Management Authority (GSRSMA).
The directors of the state fish and wildlife agencies from Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas collaborated on the GSRSMA framework earlier this year in response to years of failing federal management of the Gulf red snapper fishery, according to a press release from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.
The GSRSMA framework addresses many of the challenges of current federal management of this fishery, including inadequate data and a lack of flexible, responsive management.
The framework calls for more precise and timely recreational data collection, more frequent stock assessments and increased collaboration among the states, the release states.
Under the GSRSMA framework, each Gulf state would be responsible for all monitoring and management of red snapper in their respective state and adjacent federal waters — something they have already been doing for other commercial and recreational fisheries.
“We appreciate Congressman Graves and his co-sponsors recognition of the challenges in red snapper management and confidence in the Gulf states’ abilities to responsibly manage this important fishery,” Randy Pausina, LDWF's Assistant Secretary of Fisheries, said in a release. “Louisiana and the other Gulf states can provide the precise, real-time data and flexible measures needed to sustain this valuable resource and the people that depend on it.”
Original co-authors of the Graves measure include: Reps. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), Ralph Abraham (R-La.), Brian Babin (R-Texas); Dan Benishek (R-Mich.), Charles Boustany (R-La.), Buddy Carter (R-Ga.), Paul Cook (R-Calif.), Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), Gene Green (D-Texas), Jody Hice (R-Ga.), Bob Latta (R-Ohio), Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.), Billy Long (R-Mo.), Pete Olsen (R-Texas), Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.), Austin Scott (R-Ga.), Cedric Richmond (D-La.), Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), Tim Walz (D-Minn.), Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.) and Rob Wittman (R-Va.).
The Gulf States Red Snapper Management Authority Act will likely be referred to the House of Representatives’ Natural Resources Committee.
To view details of the five-state GSRSMA agreement, click here.