In an historic and unprecedented move, all five Gulf states have unanimously agreed on a new framework for cooperative state-based management of Gulf red snapper and have submitted it to the Gulf states’ congressional delegations for their consideration for future legislation. This alternative management strategy would remove red snapper from federal authority and place responsibility for this highly valuable species in the hands of a new, independent body called the Gulf States Red Snapper Management Authority (GSRSMA), comprised of the principle marine fisheries managers from each Gulf state.

There has been increasing dissatisfaction among both Gulf state management authorities and their stakeholders with current management of the red snapper fishery. While the Gulf red snapper population is rebuilding, recreational red snapper fishing seasons have gotten shorter; in fact, the 2014 nine-day federal red snapper season was the shortest in history. Federal managers set fishing seasons using imprecise estimates of recreational red snapper landings from the Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP). Using these faulty data, they inaccurately estimate fishing quotas and are forced to set overly restrictive seasons. In addition, MRIP data are often not available to managers until after the fishing season is closed, prohibiting any kind of flexible, responsive management.

Along with the other Gulf states, Louisiana is confident that we can provide precise landings estimates and more frequent stock assessments—the data needed to better manage this fishery and allow our fishermen to take full advantage of the available resource. The states are also more receptive and can be more responsive to the wants and needs of constituents—we can set flexible, tailored management measures that address local needs as well as Gulf-wide conservation goals. However, we cannot do this under the current management framework, which is why we have proposed the GSRSMA framework. “A change has been a long time coming—we want to thank the state directors for pulling together to create a viable solution for fixing red snapper management, “ said Robert Barham, LDWF Secretary.

Under the GSRSMA framework, each state would be responsible for all management of red snapper in their respective state and adjacent federal waters. The GSRSMA would approve each state’s management plan, coordinate population assessments, provide consistent accountability measures, and distribute federal funding for research, assessment, and management. See complete details of the proposed framework here.  “If this framework comes to fruition, Louisiana is very well positioned to hit the ground running due to our anglers’ active participation in our recreational creel survey, LA Creel, and associated support for a saltwater license fee increase,” said Randy Pausina, LDWF Assistant Secretary for Fisheries.

The Gulf states chose to submit this proposal together to demonstrate that we place great value in working together in partnership and collaboration to ensure we have a robust, sustainable, and accessible red snapper fishery in the Gulf. The Gulf states will continue to reach out to their congressional delegations to discuss the proposal and request their support for this new management framework agreed upon by each Gulf state.

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