In a press release dated June 5, 2013, NOAA Fisheries modified the 2013 recreational red snapper season in federal waters from the previously announced 34 days to only 28 days. The reduction in the length of the recreational season was required by a ruling by the U.S. District Court in Brownsville, Texas, that set aside the authority of NOAA Fisheries to close federal waters adjacent to Gulf States that were not complying with the recreational red snapper fisheries management plan.
Texas and Louisiana filed suit in April to prevent NOAA Fisheries from implementing an emergency rule, which would have allowed the closure of the federal red snapper season off the coasts of Texas and Louisiana to account for projected excess harvesting of red snapper in state waters of these non-compliant states. Without the ability to close federal waters adjacent to non-compliant states, NOAA Fisheries was forced to apply a uniform recreational season across the entire Gulf. This action negatively impacts complaint states like Mississippi that have very few red snapper in state waters.
“NOAA is managing red snapper in the Gulf as a single stock,” said Jamie Miller, executive director of MDMR. “NOAA has attempted to create equity in the number of days each state is allowed to catch red snapper; unfortunately, recreational fishermen in Mississippi and Alabama are being penalized because of actions of other Gulf States. The MDMR is pursuing ways to change the current system in order to maximize the number of days recreational fishermen are allowed to legally catch red snapper.”