Gulfport, Mississippi – The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announced its approval today of pilot programs, formally known as Exempted Fishing Permits (EFPs), which will give the five Gulf states a chance to test state-based management of private angler fishing of red snapper. Approval of the plans was announced by regional administrator, Dr. Roy Crabtree, during an open session of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council.

Share the Gulf members expressed support for this pilot in a letter submitted during the public comment period with a few caveats to ensure that the plans would not unfairly impact other fishermen in the for-hire sector and would adhere to core conservation principles.

In line with a strong recommendation made in the letter, the permits were modified to exclude the charter for-hire industry and focus the experiment on the private angling component. In addition, the plans include crucial measures to ensure the experimental method complies with the Magnuson-Stevens Act including science-based catch limits and robust data collection to monitor catch.

Statement from David Walker, commercial fisherman from Andalusia, Alabama and Share the Gulf Co-Chair:

“I am excited about this opportunity for the Gulf to find a new way to manage fishing for private anglers, who have been hamstrung by conflicting state and federal seasons. We appreciate that this plan is built with sustainability in mind and ensures fair access for all, including the charter and commercial sectors.”

Statement from Chef Haley Bittermann, Executive Chef for the Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group and Share the Gulf Co Chair:

“I commend NMFS and the Gulf states for making sure the final plans aim to fix the broken recreational management system without hurting other sectors of the fishery. As a chef and an angler, I want to see us move beyond proposals that pit us against one another. I know there’s a way to improve things for anglers like me in a fair and sustainable way.”

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