Politicians Bill Sargent and Randy Weber are at odds over the management of the red snapper fishery.
The Gulf of Mexico red snapper fishery is managed by the National Marine Fishery Service.
The Magnuson Act has been successful in rebuilding the snapper fishery with the Gulf-wide quota nearly tripling in the last 10 years.
All Americans are entitled to enjoy catching red snapper, to purchase their fair share at local fish markets, enjoy snapper dishes at their favorite restaurant anywhere in the world, or travel to the coast and hire a charter boat to take them fishing.
The snapper fishery is currently split fairly and equally between the commercial and recreational sectors.
The problem is, the recreational snapper fishery has no mandatory reporting system, thus exceeding its quota in 23 of the last 27 years, resulting in short seasons.
Politicians, fishing clubs and private recreational boat owners are backing a plan to turn over federal snapper management to the Gulf States, claiming they have a “proven track record of managing fish.”
That may be a true, but those fish are state-water fish, not fish swimming in federal waters 50 miles offshore. Managing trout and flounder is not the same as deep sea species like snapper, cobia and wahoo.
Speaking of states managing snapper, right now, and for years, the state of Texas has refused the NMFS request to comply with federal closures of snapper fishing, adding to the short seasons there are now.
The Texas state waters out to 9 miles are open year round, every day, 365 days a year, with twice the daily bag limit of four snapper instead of the federal two per day per person.
The private boat owners and politicians don’t even want federally permitted charter boats taking non-boat owners snapper fishing.
The politicians and the members-only clubs are backing only the boat owning fishermen. They don’t realize that the people that get their fair share of red snapper at fish markets and restaurants are voters too.
The commercial snapper fishery is a sustainable-based system. The federally permitted commercial boats are closely monitored via satellite. There is a mandatory reporting system allowing law enforcement total access to all catches. The commercial side of the Total Allowable Catch is 100 percent accountable. Every fish is weighed and subtracted from the commercial allocation.
Commercial fishermen are against state management because, as the proposal is written now, state management would include the federal recreational charter and commercial sectors.
Obviously, the goal is to shut down the charter and commercial fishery.
They think that shutting down the charter industry and the commercial fishery will add fish to the recreational sector. And it would. But, doing simple math, it would add only a few days.
Bill Sargent wants to use state control to shut down the charter and commercial fishing industry.
Randy Weber doesn’t want to hurt commercial fishermen in order to help recreational fishermen. He wants a fair fishery, with a sustainable and accountable system for all.