Red snapper allocation at heart of Texas public meetings

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Red snapper allocation limits in the Gulf of Mexico are among the most divisive issues facing recreational and commercial anglers, but the Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council is hoping to do its part to start a responsible dialogue, including upcoming public meetings in Texas and other Gulf states.

The council is considering Reef Fish Amendment 28, which examines allocating snapper resources between commercial and recreational sectors. The allocation of Gulf red snapper, which currently sits at 51 percent commercial and 49 percent recreational, was established in 1990 through Reef Fish Amendment 1. This allocation was based on the historical average of red snapper landings by sector from 1979-87. The red snapper stock in the Gulf has been part of a rebuilding plan since 1997, and in 2012 NOAA Fisheries declared that overfishing of the stock was over.

As a result, the council is considering seven allocation alternatives. Its preferred alternative (No. 5), according to council documents, states that if the snapper quota is less than or equal to 9.12 million pounds, the commercial and recreational allocations will be maintained. If the red snapper quota is greater than 9.12 million pounds, 75 percent of the amount in excess of that figure will be allocated to the recreational sector and 25 percent for commercial.

The 2013 red snapper season in federal waters off the Texas coast will run 17 days, beginning June 1.
Red snapper may be caught in Texas state waters all year, but 95 percent of the state’s annual harvest is done in federal waters.

The public meetings in Texas are as follows, all starting at 6 p.m.:

March 17: Hilton Garden Inn, 6717 S. Padre Island Drive, Corpus Christi, TX 78412

March 18: Embassy Suites San Antonio International Airport, 10110 U.S. Highway 281 North, San Antonio, TX 78216

March 19: Hilton Garden Inn Houston/Clear Lake NASA, 750 W. Texas Avenue, Webster, TX 77598

Comments on the red snapper amendment also will be accepted online.

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