Judge rules against NOAA in red snapper dispute

GULF OF MEXICO — A federal judge says federal regulators used a false claim of emergency to cut the federal season for red snapper off of Texas and Louisiana, and did so to punish those states for setting seasons and limits beyond federal limits.

District Judge Andrew Hanen, of Brownsville, Texas, overturned the emergency rule under which the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s fisheries division set one season off Mississippi and Alabama and others off Texas, Louisiana and Florida.

NOAA Fisheries says it will set a Gulf-wide season.

Officials have said the variations compensated for different state seasons to give anglers in all states equal chance at the popular fish.

Hanen called it penalizing anglers in states that choose to set longer seasons, even though Congress gave them the right to do so.

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