There have been a lot of notes and calls from readers inquiring about the controversial Amendment 40, as it is commonly called, that proposes a change to the regulations for the recreational quota of red snapper.
Many of the inquiries were prompted by two guest columns in The Daily News, one supporting the amendment and the other opposing it.
The proposed amendment would take the annual red snapper quota and divide it between the boats-for-hire group, which includes charter boats and head boats (party boats), and the private recreational sector.
I have read both columns, and both have their merits. The common dominator in each is the fact that both writers agree our stocks of red snapper have been mismanaged by federal agencies. I join them in their views.
Monday evening, I attended a meeting at the Hilton Hotel where the Gulf Council presented its ideas and listened to close to 100 members of the fishing community give their views. It appeared that a solid majority of the crowd was from the private recreational group.
I could see benefits from this amendment if properly drafted; however, as it stands, there are a lot of flaws.
Party boats provide a valuable service in that they allow anglers with limited resources to make offshore fishing trips. Allowing them to extend their season for taking red snapper would definitely help them make it financially.
The main opposition I have detected is “not at the expense of the private sector.” The opponents have a good argument. If the private allocation is reduced and the method of determining when that allocation is met is not changed, the time frame will be further reduced from the stingy 10-day limit that was set for 2014.
The solution to this whole problem would be to arrive at a system that allows both groups to have equal and longer seasons.