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Graves Introduces Legislation Charting a New Course for Management of Gulf Red Snapper

Congressmen Garret Graves (R-South Louisiana) today introduced legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives that would transfer management of the red snapper fishery from the federal government to the five Gulf States. Under the Gulf States Red Snapper Management Authority (GSRSMA) Act fish and wildlife agencies of the five Gulf States would use public input to develop and implement a coordinated, science-based fishery management plan.

"For years, the federal government has restricted our anglers' access to a public resource, limiting the ability of private citizens in South Louisiana and across the Gulf Coast to enjoy red snapper," said Graves. "When I was growing up, we could fish snapper year round; this year's recreational season was just 10 days. Our state-based approach will eliminate failed federal fish management that saw only one weekend of red snapper fishing in federal waters, while preventing overfishing."

To ensure the continued protection of access for the commercial fishing industry, the Act includes provisions to protect current individual quota shares for the commercial sector, maintains federal control over existing commercial fish harvests for a minimum of three years and requires that any significant reduction in access to the commercial sector would require approval by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council.

"Fishing for red snapper is a part of the cultural heritage of our Sportsman's Paradise, a heritage that is shared between private anglers and commercial fishermen who supply Louisiana's exceptional seafood to restaurants across the country," Graves added. "It's our responsibility to ensure current and future generations can benefit from a healthy and sustainable stock."

The move to state-based management will result in more frequent stock assessments and improved regional collaboration in the collection and use of timely fishery data. Taken as a whole, the GSRSMA Act would codify the five Gulf States regional management strategy, resulting in improved management of Gulf Red Snapper for the betterment of the commercial and recreational sectors and the entire regional economy.

State-based management of federal fisheries has been successfully implemented on the East Coast as well as in Alaska over the past decades. The Graves proposal is widely supported by industry stakeholders.

"As original cosponsors of the Gulf States Red Snapper Management Authority Act, all four House leaders of the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus, along with sixteen other CSC Members, recognize the need for a different approach to management of Gulf Red Snapper," noted Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation President Jeff Crane. "They, like the states, are frustrated with seeing public access to a healthy Gulf red snapper fishery continually eroded under federal management."

"For too long, the federal government has relied on outdated and inaccurate information to unfairly limit recreational Gulf red snapper fishing to just a single weekend a year," said Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Coastal Conservation. "Representative Graves' bill will improve recreational fishing opportunities and safeguard the thousands of Gulf jobs that depend on recreational Red Snapper fishing."

"As we all know, management of red snapper has been a significant problem over the past several years, effectively placing recreational anglers on the sidelines. CCA believes that state management will be better for the species and for all stakeholders, including recreational anglers," said David Cresson, CEO of Coastal Conservation Association Louisiana. "Our sincere gratitude goes out to Reps. Graves and Miller for their vision and leadership on this critical issue."

"The sportfishing industry and anglers across the nation strongly appreciate the leadership demonstrated by Congressman Graves and the sponsors of this bipartisan bill. The current Federal fishery management system for Red Snapper just does not work for the public. It needs to be changed," said Scott Gudes, Vice President of the American Sportfishing Association.

"As a state fisheries management agency, we are dedicated to managing our public resources for the benefit of fish, fishermen, and our coastal communities and economies and have been effectively doing so for years. Louisiana and the other Gulf states are ready and able to take on management of this valuable resource—we can provide the precise, real-time data and flexible measures needed to responsibly manage this valuable fishery," said Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary, Robert Barham.

The legislation is co-sponsored by Representatives Jeff Miller (R-FL), Cedric Richmond (D-LA), Austin Scott (R-GA), Bennie Thompson (D-MS), Charles W. Boustany Jr. MD (R-LA), Ralph Abraham MD (R-LA), Steven Palazzo (R-MS), Rob Wittman (R-VA), Pete Olson (R-TX), Gene Green (D-TX), Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA), Jeff Duncan (R-SC), Dan Benishek (R-MI), Jody Hice (R-SC), Billy Long (R-MO), Brian Babin (R-TX), Paul Cook (R-CA), Tim Walz (D-MN), Doug LaMalfa (R-CA), Robert Latta (R-OH) and Buddy Carter (R-GA) . The bill is endorsed by: