Gulf states reach deal on red-snapper management

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In a move long awaited by the recreational fishing and boating community, Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas have agreed to state-based management of Gulf of Mexico red snapper.

The directors of the state fish and wildlife agencies from those states announced their agreement on Friday. Red snapper has been facing dwindling seasons. Last year’s recreational Gulf snapper season was nine days.

The announcement was greeted with enthusiasm from the recreational fishing and boating community, which has supported greater state control of Gulf red snapper.

“Throughout the country, states have proven to be highly successful at fish and wildlife management in a way that conserves natural resources while allowing for reasonable public access,” Center for Coastal Conservation president Jeff Angers said in a statement. “The Gulf states are among the nation’s leaders in marine fisheries management, which is why we have continued to look to them as the vehicle for managing Gulf red snapper going forward to get us out of the current mess created by federal mismanagement.”

Gulf of Mexico red snapper is now managed by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council under the National Marine Fisheries Service.

The states’ agreement, which is predicated on transferring management authority away from the council, describes the key elements of a plan in which the Gulf states would coordinate the management of red snapper throughout the Gulf of Mexico through a proposed Gulf States Red Snapper Management Authority.

Federal regulators cannot yet comment because they have not yet had a chance to review the proposal, Allison Garrett, a spokeswoman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and its fisheries division, said in an email Friday night, according to a report from NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth.