Byrne advocates for full Alabama red snapper season
Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-1) Monday sent a letter to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) urging support for a full 2019 red snapper season in Alabama.
In a statement, Byrne explained, “Alabama showed last year that we can successfully manage our own recreational Red Snapper season, and I hope NOAA will soon approve the 2019 season to ensure our fishermen are given an adequate opportunity to fish for Red Snapper.”
“As I have said repeatedly, this issue is about more than just fishing,” he said. “A full Red Snapper season helps boost our coastal economies due to everything from fuel sales to hotel and condo rentals. We must continue pushing for greater state control over our fisheries, and approving Alabama’s 2019 Red Snapper season would be a major step in the right direction.”
Last year, NOAA Fisheries approved an Exempted Fishing Permit (EFP) for Alabama and other Gulf Coast states to allow them each to set their own red snapper seasons within federal catch limits. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) spearheaded this important effort to establish the state-led pilot program for red snapper in the 2017 appropriations process.
Congressman Byrne’s full letter as follows:
Mr. Chris Oliver, Assistant Administrator
1315 East West Highway
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Dr. Roy Crabtree, Regional Administrator
Southeast Regional Office
263 13th Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
Dear Mr. Oliver and Dr. Crabtree:
I was pleased to see the draft rule to increase the Red Snapper Annual Catch Limit (ACL) and Annual Catch Targets issued by NOAA late last year. Your efforts continue to show exactly what those of us on the Gulf Coast have known for years: the health of the Red Snapper fishery is incredibly strong. With that, I write today in support of Alabama’s 2019 Red Snapper season. As you are well aware, fishermen along the Gulf Coast have faced increasingly short fishing seasons for Red Snapper.
As with the Exempted Fishing Permit (EFP) you approved in 2018 that also covers this upcoming 2019 season, I encourage you to approve Alabama’s 2019 EFP Updated Terms and Conditions which will allow for the monitoring of in-season daily Red Snapper landings to maximize season length and benefit anglers, while ensuring harvests stay within set limits. I have always been an advocate for states using innovative methods to manage local fisheries and encourage you to grant Alabama’s application. Approving the 2019 terms and conditions would be consistent with congressional intent, as authored by Senator Richard Shelby in the Fiscal Year 2017 and 2018 Appropriations bills, directing the National Marine Fisheries Service to implement a state-led pilot program to allow states to take the lead in managing Red Snapper.
I enjoy working with you and am grateful for the Department’s help with the 2017 and 2018 Red Snapper seasons. Given the Red Snapper stock in the Gulf of Mexico is healthy and continues to grow, I hope you will approve the Alabama 2019 EFP Updated Terms and Conditions with the increased ACL to allow fishermen access to the fishery. Please do not hesitate to contact my office with any questions or concerns.
Member of Congress
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn