Only 28 days after it began, Red Snapper season officially ends today for Gulf Coast recreational fishermen and tourists. On this final day of Snapper season, U.S. Representative Jo Bonner, R-Alabama, called federal management of Snapper "a complete failure".
"Today is June 28, the last day recreational fishermen can legally catch Red Snapper this year," Rep. Bonner said. "As Alabama and other Gulf Coast residents pack up their fishing poles after barely having an opportunity to wet a line, Washington's overly restrictive management of Snapper fishing is a complete failure. I hear continual reports that Gulf Red Snapper are so plentiful that they are already crowding out other fish, yet federal regulators enforce ridiculously shorter seasons each year. It's time to restore common sense to Red Snapper management policy."
Federal management of Snapper is being challenged in Alabama, all along the Gulf Coast and on Capitol Hill. On the eve of the close of the Snapper season, the House Committee on Natural Resources held a hearing on the management of Red Snapper in the Gulf of Mexico under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.
Congressman Bonner submitted written testimony to the committee which is available here.
Also testifying on behalf of Alabama fishermen about the negative impact of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council fish management practices on our state and the Gulf Coast as a whole were:
Chris Blankenship, Director of the Marine Resources Division of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (Begins 00:53:00 on video):
"Through 1997, the fishery was open year round. As recently as 2007, the season was 194 days long. The season is consistently shortened, with this year being the shortest ever even though the fishery has dramatically rebounded. This has severely affected the coastal economy of coastal Alabama."
Herb Malone, President/CEO of the Alabama Gulf Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau (Begins 02:00:00 on video):
"The draconian decisions of the Gulf Council and National Marine Fisheries have resulted in ever shortening seasons that have had a huge negative economic impact on our family owned small businesses. This in spite of repeated testimony and common sense observations by many including myself as a recreational angler that Red Snapper off the Alabama coast are more plentiful now than has ever been seen in our local fishermen's lifetime."
Susan Boggs, Co-Owner Reel Surprise Charter Fishing (Begins 02:20:30):
"There are several species of fish that are critical to the recreational fishing industry in the Gulf of Mexico, but perhaps none more than Red Snapper. Unfortunately our industry has suffered under increasingly restrictive management measures. Fishing seasons have gotten shorter, and bag limits have gotten smaller."