This wish comes with the hope that this Christmas, and the outdoors adventures that surround this best of all holidays, are the most productive and safest for you and your families.
This wish also comes with the hope that some semblance of common sense invades the multi-tiered federal fisheries management system next year.
There’s not enough words in our dictionaries to express the disappointment recreational fishermen have had over years of red snapper mismanagement in the Gulf of Mexico, but 2014 was the worst.
This year, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council decided to reduce a private recreational fisherman’s ability to take red snapper from federal waters off the Louisiana coast when the 17-member council approved a plan to cut a charterboat/headboat quota from the allowed annual recreational take.
The best present private offshore fishermen could receive is there’s a ray of sunshine amidst this gloom.
Earlier this month, the U.S. House’s subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans, and Insular Affairs started the process of moving management of offshore waters to the state fisheries-management agencies for the five Gulf states.
That measure, H.R. 3099, titled “Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper Conservation Act of 2013,” was offered by Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Florida, but was lost amid discussions of reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the federal law that drives federal fishermen management schemes, and the battles between Republicans and Democrats over control of the House and Senate.
That latter issue decided in the November elections — Republicans now control both houses — means the push to move Miller’s bill forward was paramount for the Gulf states’ Congressional delegations.
The state fisheries control issue was a topic raised three years ago under the label “regional management,” but the GMFMC shelved the idea while a majority of its members, federal regional administrator Roy Crabtree among them, apparently believed there were other, more pressing matters.
Doug Olander reported on the hearings and found former CCA-Louisiana director now Central for Coastal Conservation boss Jeff Angers: “It started the conversation (on removing red snapper from federal management) at the highest levels of government,” Angers said.
It’s about time. Congress has tip-toed around this issue long enough. For decades, the states have demonstrated their abilities to manage fish, and have more than demonstrated their abilities to more quickly adjust seasons, creel limits and, more recently, to better ascertain fish populations, through creel and angler surveys than federal managers have in past 20 years.
While this present won’t come soon, it might come for Christmas 2015, and what a present it would be.