Jones, others want red snapper fishery to reopen
Saturday, June 18, 2016
More than a dozen congressmen, including U.S. Rep. Walter Jones, wants federal fisheries regulators to reconsider a decision to close the South Atlantic red snapper fishery.
The representatives said data produced by a Florida research institution shows the South Atlantic red snapper stock is healthier than what federal data indicates so the fishery should be reopened to commercial and recreational fishing.
The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries program, announced the South Atlantic red snapper season is closed this year because the total number of red snapper removed from the population in 2015 exceeded the allowable level, according to the NOAA Fisheries website.
Since 2013, the council has based its decision to allow the harvest of certain fisheries on the number of removals, which are lands plus dead discards, in the previous year. Fewer removals allow a fish population to rebuild.
The council set 2015 red snapper removals at 114,000 fish. Data shows 276,729 fish were removed.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, a subsidiary of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, has data that shows the red snapper stock is healthier than the federal data indicates.
“Unfortunately, reports indicate these data are not being considered as ‘best available science’ and, therefore, are at risk of being excluded from the (South Atlantic Fishery Management) Council’s deliberations,” Jones and his colleagues said in a letter to NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan.
"Permitting a limited amount of red snapper harvest this year, to the extent it would not jeopardize the fishery’s overall sustainability, could serve to more accurately assess the size, sex, and relative abundance of the red snapper fishery and help resolve the discrepancies between the two data sets," the letter stated.
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