GULF COUNCIL REEF FISH COMMITTEE VOTES TO SHORTEN RECREATIONAL RED SNAPPER SEASON

(Baton Rouge, LA – April 9, 2014) Fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico will be facing an even shorter recreational season for red snapper as the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, a group of state and federal fishery managers that oversee offshore fisheries, works to comply with several standards set by the Magnuson-Stevens Act after a federal court ruled their years of management of the recreational fishery illegal.

On Tuesday the Council’s Reef Fish Committee, which makes recommendations to the full Council, voted in favor of an 11-day recreational season with a two-fish per day, per angler limit.

“Nobody wants 11 days and shortened seasons will not solve the problem the fishery is facing,” said Billy Archer, Share the Gulf member and a charter captain from Panama City, Florida. “The good news is that better solutions for recreational fishermen exist and we urge the full Council to adopt comprehensive management measures instead of the same old failed approaches.”

The full council will consider the recommendation of the reef fish committee on Thursday and will likely vote to request that the Secretary of Commerce take this emergency action to reduce the likelihood of quota overages during the 2014 season.

Some Council members are attempting to attach new must-pass accountability measures for the recreational fishery to Amendment 28, a proposal to take a portion of the commercial fishery’s quota and give it to recreational fishermen, so that the Council will be forced to pass the amendment and reallocate the red snapper fishery.

“These types of maneuvers are wrong and confuse a fish grab with real changes that can improve fishing for anglers across the Gulf of Mexico,” said Bubba Cochrane, Texas Co-Chair for Share the Gulf and commercial fisherman. “Reallocation is a false promise to recreational fishermen and a distraction from improving the management of the recreational fishery. It will take fish out of Gulf seafood industry and do nothing to help anglers in the long-term. Combining new accountability measures with Amendment 28 will only cause more chaos and more division in the Gulf.”

The Gulf Council has been presented with several alternative management programs that could improve fishing opportunities for recreational fishermen while improving accountability, but have yet to move any of them forward for serious consideration. “The Council cannot continue to ignore the demands for new management options,” said Archer.

The Council must implement an adequate management plan for the 2014 season by May 15, 2014 in order to comply with the federal court’s ruling, and has until next year to implement permanent changes to the management program for the recreational red snapper fishery.

“The Council should permanently end the reallocation distraction so that it can avoid further legal action and fulfill its obligations under the law to improve recreational management and ensure long-term sustainability of the fishery,” said Cochrane.

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Share the Gulf is a coalition of chefs, restaurateurs, restaurant associations, seafood businesses, fishermen, conservationists, local food advocates and regular consumers that want to keep the local Gulf seafood industry fair and strong. Our simple goal is to make sure Gulf seafood continues to be shared fairly and sustainably so that all of us can enjoy it for generations to come.  Join the coalition at www.sharethegulf.org.

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