CONGRESSMAN GRAVES INTRODUCES RED SNAPPER ACT OF 2017
Baton Rouge, LA – Congressman Garret Graves (LA-06) has introduced bi-partisan legislation with Congressmen Cedric Richmond (D-LA), Randy Weber (R-TX), Bennie Thompson (D-MS), Blake Farenthold (R-TX), Lacy Clay (D-MO), Clay Higgins (R-LA), Steve Palazzo (R-MS), Austin Scott (R-GA), and Bradley Byrne (R-AL) in the U.S. House of Representatives addressing a long term solution to management of red snapper for private recreational anglers in the Gulf of Mexico. The bill titled, “Regionally Empowered Decision-making for Snapper, Noting the Angling Public and the Preservation of an Exceptional Resource Act” or the “RED SNAPPER Act of 2017” is a conservation-based approach that will allow states to work with federal fisheries managers to expand access to as much as 25 miles into the Gulf for recreational fishing.
“While NOAA has granted 39 additional days this year for red snapper fishing in federal waters, the issue of a long term solution remains. As the stock has rebuilt, recreational anglers have unfairly seen fewer and fewer fishing days. Something has to change. It is time to replace the status quo with a management system that more accurately reflects today’s red snapper private recreational fishery,” said Graves.
This legislation is based on depth- and-distance based management informed by additional, more-accurate science and data from Gulf States. The bill allows states to continue to set seasons within their territorial waters of 9 nautical miles while also empowering the states to set seasons within a new area from 9 miles to 25 fathoms in depth (150 feet) or 25 miles, whichever is the greater distance. Concentrating effort in areas within 25 miles of shore or less than 25 fathoms will preserve the fishery since the bulk of the red snapper stock lives in waters deeper than 150 feet. It will also allow for improved catch and release survival rates since research indicates snapper caught in less than 150 feet of water have a much better chance of living when released than those caught from deeper waters.
The bill builds in additional layers of conservation by requiring NOAA Fisheries work with the states to expand the use of devices that can help increase catch and release survival rates. It also requires NOAA Fisheries to work with states to approve state-based data collection and management programs, such as Louisiana’s La Creel Survey, which are providing much more accurate information than NOAA’s existing recreational management approach.
“Without legislation, private recreational anglers are likely facing an extremely limited, if not obsolete, federal season next year. Most importantly, it begins to bring stability to the private recreational fishery by incorporating much more accurate data from Gulf-state fisheries agencies. The best managed commercial and recreational fisheries in the country are managed by Gulf States. It’s long past time for them to have much more say in how red snapper are managed for recreational anglers.”