The oldest competitive fishing event in our country begins Thursday. It is in one of the most popular fishing spots for Capital City anglers: Grand Isle.
Yep, the Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo has been around longer than any other fishing get-together in all 50 states.
It’s a shame the thousands of fishermen who’ll flock to the coast for the three-day festival — and the Thursday-through-Saturday Faux Pas Tournament run at Venice — won’t be able to make red snapper nor amberjack part of their catch. That’s because the recreational seasons is closed on these species.
What a shame: These seasons were closed by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council through the National Marine Fisheries Service and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. These names leave Louisiana fishermen wondering about the degree of counsel this council gives to proper fisheries management and what service this service gives to recreational fishing interests.
From the outset of the recreational red snapper regulations, we knew this much-too-short, 48-day season was coming at 12:01 a.m. July 19. From what all deepwater fishermen learned off the Louisiana coast, the GMFMC’s statement closing-day announcement that the closure “was established to limit the harvest of red snapper in the Gulf and help rebuild overfished stocks so that anglers can enjoy better red snapper fishing in the future,” rang hollow.
That’s because there are far and away more red snapper off our coast that anyone can remember. That the GMFMC continued to use “overfished” in any statement goes against its 2009 proclamation that red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico are not an overfished species.
Louisiana fishermen, seeking some fact-based basis, not biological conjecture, for continued recreational seasons have found a friend in the Recreational Fishing Alliance and its executive director Jim Donofrio.
“NOAA continues spewing claims that cutbacks today will yield to greater benefits tomorrow, but that simply doesn’t hold water any longer,” Donofrio said.
Like anyone who attends any of the council’s Reef Fish Committee hearings, RFA and Donofrio come away scratching their heads about how the council stands behind regulations outlined in the 2006 reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act while, at the same time, ignoring the act’s mandate to do away with NOAA’s Marine Recreational Fishing Statistical Surveys for setting seasons and limits.
NOAA confirmed that MRFSS data was used in 2011, and Donofrio said RFA has learned NOAA will continue to use that data in 2012.
Isn’t it time for Congress to take the NOAA to task?
Sure is. If it has done that last year, four years after OKing Magnuson Stevens, we’d likely be able to take red snapper — possibly amberjack — this week and possibly for the rest of the summer.