CCA Texas supports state management of recreational red snapper fishery under Exempted Fishing Permit.
After many years of work progress is finally being made on improving management of the red snapper fishery in the Gulf of Mexico. The Gulf Coast states have each submitted plans to take over management of the recreational fishery in federal waters off their shores. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) Exempted Fishing Permit (EFP) application which, if approved by National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), would allow the state to manage the recreational red snapper harvest in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico in 2018 and 2019. CCA Texas has advocated strongly for state management of our red snapper fishery and this EFP is an excellent opportunity for TPWD to demonstrate that they can better manage our shared public resources.
The EFP would allow Texas to manage the opening and closing of the recreational red snapper fishery in federal waters within an approved poundage limit set by NMFS, calculated as a percentage of the total recreational catch allowed in the Gulf. Due to sector separation under Amendment 40 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico, the recreational harvest quota is separated into two sectors, private recreational anglers and charter for-hire vessels. The projected season length under this EFP is dependent upon whether the charter for-hire sector is included and the exact percentage of the gulf-wide quota that Texas receives from NMFS. Based on historical landings data Texas requested 1.1M pounds of the quota but NMFS has suggested that Texas may only receive 711,599 pounds of the quota.
If Texas only receives the NMFS suggested poundage of quota, the inclusion of the charter for-hire sector in this EFP would result in a 64 day federal waters season for all participants. If the charter for-hire sector is excluded from the EFP, anglers on private recreational vessels would have an 82 day season, while anglers on charter for-hire vessels would only receive a 51-day season under the normal federally managed red snapper season, beginning June 1.
CCA Texas supports state management of red snapper
CCA Texas’ position is that state management of anglers fishing from their own boats and those fishing from Charter for-hire vessels is in the best interest of the resource and recreational anglers. Under this scenario, anglers on both private vessels charter for-hire vessels would receive the longest federal red snapper season that they have since the 77 day season in 2008. While the length of the red snapper season is important, there are several other key issues in play for Texas anglers to consider in this plan. CCA Texas believes it is critical that both anglers fishing from their own boats and those fishing on charter/for-hire vessels be managed by the state. We believe TPWD is best suited to provide the most access to this public marine resource for ALL anglers and citizens of Texas. Currently, the federal government is promoting a management strategy that has privatized the commercial sector of the red snapper fishery and there are efforts underway to expand a similar “catch share” style of management into the charter for-hire fleet. CCA believes privatizing shares of the red snapper fishery is short-sighted and will ultimately result in less choice, higher costs and poorer trip quality for anglers who use those boats. As highlighted in our May 25, 2017 press release regarding House Concurrent Resolution 105 in the 85th Texas Legislature, ultimately we would like to see TPWD manage the entire red snapper fishery and while this EFP is only for the recreational sector, it is an excellent opportunity for the state to demonstrate its effectiveness at managing our fisheries as it has with other valuable recreational species such as spotted seatrout and red drum. CCA Texas advocates for fisheries management and conservation decisions to restore and safeguard our shared public resources through sound science and active management by fisheries biologists that understand the needs Texas anglers. Under this EFP, TPWD would have flexibility to manage both sectors of the recreational fishing community and could propose red snapper season dates that are generally more suitable for offshore navigation and/or in conjunction with historical high-use dates.
It is important to note that regardless of which options are selected under this EFP, TPWD projects that the red snapper state water season will remain open 365 days a year.
This EFP is a positive step towards state management of our red snapper fishery and we hope that you take the time to provide comments in support of state management for the entire recreational fishery (private recreational anglers and charter for-hire sector). Click Here to review the proposals and provide public comments online.
In addition to providing online public comment, TPWD staff is also holding public meetings to explain the EFP, answer questions and collect public input. The meetings will be held at the following locations:
|March 27, 2018||7:00 p.m.||Hilton Hotel – Clear Lake. Atlantis Room. 3000 NASA Parkway. Houston, TX 77058|
|March 27, 2018||7:00 p.m.||Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi. Natural Resources Building, Room 1003. 6300 Ocean Drive. Corpus Christi, TX 78412|
|March 27, 2018||7:00 p.m.||Port Isabel Event and Cultural Center. 309 E Railroad Avenue. Port Isabel, TX 78578|
|March 28, 2018||12:00 p.m.||Live Webinar with questions and comments
We urge all CCA Texas members to review the EFP proposals and provide your feedback to TPWD. This is a unique opportunity for our angling community to engage in the fisheries management process and show support for our TPWD fisheries managers. Thank you for your efforts to protect and conserve our marine resources.