The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council has scheduled scoping workshops in Gulf states to get public input on a proposed amendment that examines a days-at-sea pilot program for the red snapper for-hire fishery.
The council is touting the workshops as the best opportunity for stakeholders to make suggestions or raise issues and concerns before it begins developing an amendment, according to a news release.
Issues to be discussed include the purpose and need for the amendment and potential management actions. Management actions range from the selection of program participants to the establishment of effort and catch validation methods and criteria for program evaluation.
Among the eight workshops, two are set for Texas sites. They will begin at 6 p.m. on the following days:
Hilton Garden Inn, 6717 S. Padre Island Drive, Corpus Christi, TX 78412
Hilton Galveston Island, 5400 Seawall Boulevard, Galveston Island, TX 77551
Copies of the scoping document and other related materials will be available two weeks prior to the first scoping meeting and can be obtained by calling 813-348-1630 or can be downloaded from the council’s website.
Red snapper fishing season
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission recently received a briefing from staff on the state’s red snapper fishing as well as recent action by the Gulf council that is likely to shorten this year’s recreational fishing season in federal waters.
The council voted Feb. 8 to implement an emergency rule that could shorten the recreational red snapper fishing season in federal waters off the Texas coast to as few as 11 days from a planned 27-day season. In contrast, the department allows snapper fishing in state waters all year.
The council recommendation this month passed by a narrow majority, over strong opposition by representatives from Texas and Louisiana, including the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, and the council’s representative from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The emergency rule will only apply to states that are inconsistent with federal regulations, which includes Texas, Louisiana and Florida.
As recommended, the rule would authorize the National Marine Fisheries Service southeast regional administrator to shorten the red snapper season in the federal Exclusive Economic Zone waters off Texas. The EEZ begins nine nautical miles from the state’s coast and extends 200 nautical miles. State waters extend from the coast outward nine nautical miles.