Seventeen members of the House of Representatives recently signed off on a letter to Dr. Roy Crabtree, the Southeast regional administrator for NOAA Fisheries in Saint Petersburg, FL, asking that the 40-day red snapper season in the Gulf of Mexico be extended due to the recent weather emergencies.
The members of Congress representing Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia, Texas, and Arkansas call the 40-day red snapper season "a window that is too short to make a living and being made shorter by the devastating summer weather."
"We have heard from charter boat operators and private anglers in our districts who are concerned that the extensive damage caused by Tropical Storm Debby, along with the summer storms that could occur in the days ahead, will leave them with far too few days to fish," the letter states. "With this crippling blow to our local economies, however, comes a timely opportunity for the Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council to build good will with our fishermen."
"For these reasons, we strongly request that you consider extending this year's 40-day red snapper season until the end of July, which coincides with the peak of our tourism season," the Representatives wrote. "We believe that this decisive action is reasonable and will go a long way toward relieving the crippling economic burden facing our fishermen and the ancillary businesses that rely on the season for increased tourism and revenue."
The Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) praised the 17 bipartisan members of Congress who signed on to the letter to NOAA Fisheries, calling the request an emergency action well worth considering. "NOAA's fisheries service will often shut down recreational fishing in an emergency when their marine recreational
fishing statistical surveys show some drastic uptick in participation, is it too much to ask for an emergency opening considering what the NOAA weather service must admit has been a devastating week in the Gulf," asked RFA executive director Jim Donofrio.
Anglers have already lost nearly a third of its allowable season to unfishable conditions, and RFA is hopeful that the Commerce Department will act swiftly on behalf of coastal fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Congressional letter formally requests that the red snapper season be extended through the end of July, a period which coincides with the peak of the regional tourism season in the Gulf of Mexico. "We believe that this decisive action is reasonable and will go a long way toward relieving the crippling economic burden facing our fishermen and the ancillary businesses that rely on the season for increased tourism and revenue," the Representatives noted.
To read the full letter in support of a red snapper extension in the Gulf of Mexico, go to www.joinrfa.org/Press/RedSnapperExtensionRequest.pdf