House committee denies Gulf States’ red snapper takeover

The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources late last week approved H.R. 1335, a bill to reauthorize the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), but voted down an amendment to cede control of the Gulf of Mexico red snapper fishery to the individual Gulf states.

The bid by the five Gulf of Mexico states — Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas — to control the management of the Gulf red snapper resource was defeated by a 22-16 vote. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Garrett Graves (R-La.).

The bill sought to create the Gulf States Red Snapper Management Authority (GRSMA) within 60 days of enactment. The GSRSMA sought to provide standards for each Gulf coastal State to use in developing fishery management measures, taking the entire fishery — commercial and recreational — out of federal management, but many in the region opposed the idea.

“This legislation would have led to a radical change in an extremely well managed commercial harvesting component that has led the way in the recovery of Gulf red snapper,” said Harlon Pearce, president of the Gulf Seafood Institute and owner of Harlon’s LA Fish in New Orleans. “In addition it would have been harmful to newly created federal charter-for-hire sector that both the Gulf Council and Department of Commerce has approved.”

The state proposal made no commitment to keep the commercial fishery open beyond the next three years and redirects all federal money for research and stock assessments to the states.

The potential for a management switch is not entirely dead, as Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) is trying to push a similar bill through committee.

H.R. 1335, sponsored by Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), addresses priorities of the recreational fishing sector.


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