In the coming weeks, members of the charter fishing industry as well as the public will have an opportunity to provide comments to the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council on a new proposal that could lead to better management of the recreational red snapper fishery.

A series of public hearings has been scheduled in cities across the Gulf of Mexico, including Galveston, to solicit input from the public on a proposal called Amendment 40.

The proposal would separate the recreational red snapper quota between charter captains, who provide professional fishing access to anglers, and those anglers who own their own boat.

Many charter captains hope this year’s nine-day federal season was the wake-up call needed for the council and the National Marine Fisheries Service to move forward with positive solutions like Amendment 40.

Our businesses and customers rely on predictable and flexible access to red snapper fishing, qualities that the current rules for recreational red snapper fishing do not provide.

Charter captains run the small businesses that provide offshore fishing access to the millions of anglers who do not own their own boats.

As the recreational red snapper crisis has exploded in the Gulf, anglers who rely on charter captains have suffered the brunt of the bad regulations.

While boat-owning anglers in each state have enjoyed state water red snapper seasons ranging from 10 additional days in Alabama and Mississippi to year-round fishing in Texas and Louisiana, federally permitted charter businesses and the anglers that rely on them were only able to fish during the too-short nine-day federal season.

Our customers deserve better treatment than this. The anglers and their families who we provide offshore access to have no other means to enjoy fishing in the Gulf, and they are being punished the most.

To fix this problem, the council must find new ways of managing the two parts of the recreational fishery that acknowledge that each part operates differently, and better meet the needs of each.

Amendment 40 is the first step toward better management. CFA believes the government should not be managing businesses that provide access to anglers the same way they manage individuals who are lucky enough to own their own boats.

The current regulations are not working for either group and this proposal can begin to provide the freedom and flexibility to explore better choices.

This proposal will pave the way for better management that could benefit all recreational anglers.

A public hearing on Amendment 40 will take place in Galveston at the Hilton Galveston Island Hotel from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Aug. 4. You can learn more at www.gulfcouncil.org.

Charter fishermen, their customers and anglers who believe that we should be treated equally in the red snapper fishery should make your voice heard.

Shane Cantrell is the executive director of the Charter Fisherman’s Association and offers chartered fishing trips through Galveston Sea Ventures.

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