Texas, Gulf coast governors urge Congress to give red snapper control to states

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Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant released a joint letter to leadership of the U.S. House and Senate on Wednesday stating that federal management of Gulf red snapper is evidence of a system that is “irretrievably broken,” and calls for passage of legislation that would replace it with a coordinated Gulf states partnership for red snapper management.

“After three decades under ineffective federal management, our citizens are left with a nine-day season for this iconic fish, and that is just an unacceptable outcome. Our own Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has worked constructively with user groups like the Coastal Conservation Association and shown how proper management can foster our wildlife resources to be vibrant economic engines for Louisiana,” said Jindal, in a news release. “We should not have to settle for over-arching, sub-par management of these resources by the federal government. The Gulf states have all proven they can do a far better job not only creating healthy fisheries, but providing greater access to them for our citizens. We are calling on Congress to give us the opportunity to do so.”

Perry echoed the sentiments of the other leaders.

“Texas has proven the ability to manage and improve the health of fisheries in the Western Gulf, including red snapper. Establishing state-based management provides a pragmatic approach to regional management of this important resource,” he said in the release.

The letter to Congressional leadership, signed by the governors states, “With a stock that is recovering steadily, our recreational anglers are being allowed to fish less and less, and there is no hint of willingness from NOAA Fisheries to deviate from this present, unsatisfactory course. As governors of Gulf states, we believe this confusing management is just the latest evidence of a federal management system that is irretrievably broken. We seek to establish a better fishery management approach for Gulf red snapper.”

Such an approach could be modeled after the highly successful Atlantic Striped Bass Conservation Act on the East Coast, and would establish a coordinated Gulf states partnership for red snapper management. The governors’ letter points out that, “State-based fishery management has proven to be far more effective, and has engineered some of the greatest marine conservation victories in the country, including red drum, speckled trout, snook and striped bass. It is in the national interest to implement procedures and measures to provide for effective inter-jurisdictional Gulf coastal state conservation and management of this species.”

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Will Leschper is founder of The Texas Outdoor Digest. He has been recognized for Excellence in Craft by the Outdoor Writers Association of America and the Texas Outdoor Writers Association. He is Conservation Editor of Texas Fish & Game Magazine and is a regular contributor to the Journal of the Texas Trophy Hunters, in addition to writing for plenty of of now-defunct publications.

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