Congressman Bradley Byrne introduced legislation to help anglers plagued by red snapper fishing regulations set forth by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association.
Based on potentially flawed data, Alabama recreational fisherman were only provided a nine-day red snapper fishing season. It could have been twice as long. The federal system of estimating fish harvest reported over $1 million red snapper were caught in 2014. According to Rep. Byrne;
NOAA so severely underestimates the number of red snapper in the Gulf, because the agency doesn’t sample for the fish on reefs. That is absurd considering red snapper are reef fish.
Alabama’s system, which was backed by expert testimony in Congress, showed just over 400,000 red snapper caught in the same year. In 2014, recreational red snapper fisherman had a two-fish-per-day limit for the duration of the nine-day season.
“You have $900 million and you can’t give us any better count of the fish stock than what you’ve told us today?” Byrne asked at a hearing. NOAA spokesperson Samuel Rauch responded they do the best they can. “It is time we get the federal government out of the way, give more control to Gulf states, and bring some real relief to our fishermen,” Byrne added.
Byrne also indicated private institutions and state institutions have far more accurate technology than the federal government. He thinks this technology could be utilized to track fishery numbers, instead of federal bureaucracy.
Congressman Byrne’s “Red Snapper Regulatory Reform Act” proposes the following:
- Repeal inflexible quotas for the Gulf of Mexico red snapper fishery.
- Extend state water boundaries for each Gulf state to nine nautical miles.
- Remove data collection and stock assessments from federal control.
- Update processes and qualifications for Gulf Council appointees to ensure more balanced input from the Gulf states.
Congressman Byrne is clearly taking initiatives on behalf of Alabama sportsmen, as well as out-of-state sportsmen visiting Alabama for recreational purposes.