On May 14, 2013 NOAA Fisheries denied two Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council requests to rescind red snapper rules impacting the 2013 federal fishing season.

NOAA Fisheries denied the Gulf Council's request to rescind an emergency rule which provides NOAA Fisheries the authority to establish shorter federal recreational red snapper fishing seasons off states that implement less restrictive red snapper regulations in state waters.  Implemented in March, that rule authorizes the following state-specific federal recreational red snapper fishing seasons for 2013 after accounting for the additional fishing opportunities afforded by the less restrictive red snapper regulations Texas, Louisiana and Florida implemented in state waters:

  • Alabama and Mississippi:  28 days
  • Florida:  21 days
  • Texas:  12 days 
  • Louisiana:  9 days

Also, we denied the Gulf Council's request to rescind a regulation effective since 2009 and commonly referred to as the “30B rule,” which requires federally permitted for-hire vessels to comply with stricter federal regulations for reef fish when fishing in state or federal waters.

After reviewing these two Gulf Council requests to see if they were consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act, other applicable law and NOAA Fisheries' policy guidelines for emergency rulemaking, NOAA Fisheries decided to deny both requests because:

  • The Council failed to provide sufficient and compelling rationale for the requested actions; and
  • NOAA Fisheries determined the circumstances underlying the requested actions do not constitute recent and unforeseen events, or recently discovered circumstances.

The Council is exploring regional management alternatives to address this issue in the long term.

Also, the Council will discuss potential options for reallocating some portion of future red snapper catch increases between the commercial and recreational sectors and will review the results of a new red snapper assessment, which is currently undergoing review.  

 

From NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Administrator Dr. Roy Crabtree:

Today we denied two requests by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council to rescind red snapper rules affecting the 2013 federal fishing season length because the information and rationale the Gulf Council provided did not support the request.

Our decision to deny these requests is not something that happens often and is unique to this very complex and controversial fishery.  Going into the 2013 fishing season, this is not where anyone wanted to be.  I know we need better management solutions.  

Throughout the last year we have spent a lot of time working with the states to try and avoid this outcome.  We continue to support the states, Gulf Council and affected fishermen in exploring alternative ways to improve recreational red snapper management.  Currently, all states have expressed their support for a regional management strategy through some form of delegation, and the Gulf Council is working toward that goal for the 2014 fishing year. 

I know that fishermen are frustrated and dissatisfied with the progressively shorter fishing seasons.  The red snapper population is rebuilding and that’s a good thing.  Now we need to be creative and make some tough decisions that will enable all fishermen to share in the hard-earned benefits provided by this growing population.

Letters from Gulf Council

 

 

Letters from NOAA Fisheries
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