Recreational fishermen — whether private anglers or a charter boat captains — support transferring responsibility for managing the Gulf of Mexico red snapper fishery from the federal government to state agencies like the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, according to a just-completed survey.
The LDWF sent an online survey to all recreational fishermen who hold a Louisiana Recreational Offshore Landings Permit, and of the 19,000-plus recipients, almost 6,000 responded, according to a press release.
The majority of respondents were private anglers (96.2 percent), as well as 61 federally-permitted charter captains (1.1 percent) and 148 state charter captains with no federal permit (2.7 percent). Most participants lived in Louisiana, but residents of other Gulf states also responded.
More than 87 percent of private anglers support state agencies having at least some management authority, with about 80 percent of federal charter captains in favor and more than 90 percent of state charter captains supportive of the idea.
When asked if all authority for managing recreational red snapper in the Gulf should go to state agencies, more than 65 percent of private anglers agreed, along with 60 percent of federal charter captains and 74 percent of state charter captains.
“We always hear from the same people at Gulf Council meetings and public hearings about red snapper management. Unfortunately, we rarely hear from Louisiana anglers and charter captains,” Robert Barham, LDWF secretary, said. “This survey was an effort to reach out to our stakeholders and get their opinions.”
When asked if private anglers and charter boats should be managed as one group with the same seasons and bag limits, 43 percent of private anglers agreed. Only 28 percent of federal charter captains agreed with the statement, but 43 percent of state charter captains were in favor of the measure.
When asked if state agencies should manage private anglers and charter captains separately, with different seasons and bag limits for each group, 39 percent of private anglers agreed, 53 percent of federal charter captains were in favor and almost 41 percent of state charter captains supported that idea.
Efforts are currently underway in both Congress and through the Gulf Council to transfer some or all of the authority over the red snapper fishery in the Gulf to the states.
A Gulf Council public hearing on Amendment 39 will be held on Nov. 2 at 6 p.m. in the Doubletree Hotel in Baton Rouge, and a public hearing also will be held via webinar at 5 p.m. on Oct. 28, the release states.
“Public testimony has been monopolized by paid non-governmental organizations who have no direct interest in the fishery,” Randy Pausina, head of fisheries for the LDWF, said. “It is now more important than ever for those with a direct stake in the fishery, like those we surveyed, to come out and voice their concerns at these public meetings.”