All anglers need to be aware of some recent developments with the management of red snapper. On August 24, 2020 the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) published a temporary rule in the Federal Register: 2020 Red Snapper Private Angling Component Accountability Measure in Federal Waters Off Texas. Just two years after approving a plan to allow the Gulf states to develop their own recreational data collection systems to better manage red snapper and certifying those state programs, NOAA Fisheries intends to force the states to calibrate their data back to the flawed federal data system that caused significant turmoil in the first place.
CCA and a coalition of conservation partners recently issued a press release speaking to the issue and more than a dozen Gulf Coast Congressmen have signed a letter, urging U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross to prevent any action on the calibration of state harvest data to federal data until at least the Great Red Snapper Count is completed. Also, on September 23, 2020 the State of Texas filed suit against NOAA (2020-09-23_Texas v. NMFS_Complaint), seeking a review of the temporary rule.
The Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council and NMFS will be discussing this issue at the next Gulf Council meeting to be held virtually September 28-30 and likely again on October 26-29. Our hope is that NMFS finds a way to work with the states, explain how they arrived at the overage estimates and why they waited for 2 and a half years to notify the states that they exceeded their catch limit. You can register to attend the meetings in listen-only mode and register to provide public comment during the meetings if you are inclined to do so. Visit the Gulf Council website for more information.