Today, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross commended the innovative, two-year pilot program that grants partial management responsibility of the Gulf of Mexico red snapper fishery to the five Gulf states. Red snapper caught by private anglers in state and federal waters off Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Louisiana, and Texas will be covered by the program.
"Granting these experimental fishing permits to all five states continues the work we started last year to expand recreational fishing opportunities through coordinated, Gulf-wide seasons,” said Secretary Ross. “We are going to give the States the opportunity to demonstrate effective management that improves recreational opportunities for all Americans. We will be working closely with the states and the Gulf Fishery Management Council to ensure effective conservation and management of the red snapper stock.”
In response to congressional direction and the Gulf states’ interest in managing recreational fishing for red snapper, the U.S. Department of Commerce and NOAA Fisheries encouraged the states to submit exempted fishing permit applications to test new and innovative ways to manage recreational red snapper fishing. The permits allow those states to manage recreationally caught red snapper in both state and federal waters, and test data collection methods through two-year pilot programs. Each state will set its own 2018 and 2019 private angling red snapper season, monitor red snapper landings, and close the private angling season when the state’s assigned quota is reached.
“As a Texas native, I know how valuable the red snapper recreational fishery is to coastal businesses of the Gulf of Mexico,” said Chris Oliver, assistant administrator for NOAA Fisheries. “We appreciate the states’ willingness to work with us to test a new management strategy that supports rebuilding this population, while improving fishing opportunities for anglers.”
The following state agencies each submitted exempted fish permit applications: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Mississippi Department of Marine Resources, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
The Department of Commerce and NOAA Fisheries will work closely with each state agency and the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council to provide support during the two-year pilot study.