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Washington, DC (June 16, 2016) -- On the heels of another unreasonably short recreational red snapper season in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico, yesterday the House Natural Resources Committee passed H.R. 3094, the Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper Management Authority Act (H.R. 3094). Introduced by U.S. Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.), and with the support of 42 bipartisan co-sponsors, H.R. 3094 offers a proven, state-based solution to ensure America’s anglers have more than just nine days to access the healthiest population of Gulf red snapper in history.

“We are very grateful to Committee Chairman Rob Bishop, Congressman Graves and the Members of the Committee who voted for this bill and for better management of the Gulf red snapper fishery,” said Jeff Crane, president of Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation. “The current federal model is clearly not working, and it’s time for a more balanced approach to the management of this fishery.”

Congressman Graves’ bill will extend formal federal recognition to the historic agreement between the five Gulf States to accept joint responsibility for the management of the red snapper fishery in both state and federal waters. The bill also ensures the current individual quota shares of the commercial fishery are protected.
    

Read more: House Natural Resource Committee Advances Solution for Gulf Red Snapper

The Honorable Rob Bishop, Chairman
Committee on Natural Resources

The Honorable Raul Grijalva, Ranking Member
Committee on Natural Resources

Members
Committee on Natural Resources
1324 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Chairman Bishop, Ranking Member Grijalva and Members of the Committee on Natural Resources:

We, the undersigned organizations, represent the vast saltwater recreational angling community that generates more than $70 billion in economic activity and supports over 450,000 jobs across the nation. We write to urge your support of Representative Garret Graves’ H.R. 3094, the Gulf States Red Snapper Management Authority Act, during Committee markup Wednesday, June 15, 2016.

Read more: Coalition Red Snapper Letter 6/13/16

The Honorable Rick Scott
Office of the Governor
400 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32399


Dear Governor Scott:
We, the undersigned, are making a formal complaint regarding the Our Florida Reefs Community Working Group (OFR) process that is developing recommendations for the management of the southeast Florida coral reef tract from Stuart to Key Biscayne. As Governor, we greatly appreciate your continued recognition of the value recreational fishing and boating brings to our State and the importance of sustainable resources and environmental responsibility. With this in mind, we have serious concerns that OFR’s recommendations relating to fishing restrictions and additional federal oversight over our state’s fisheries are not based on sound scientific principles and that the process used to generate those recommendations was significantly flawed. While OFR lacks regulatory authority, their recommendations will carry significant weight and will be used by outside entities and agencies to gain control of fisheries management in our own state waters.

Read more: OFR Formal Complaint Letter

Sector separation proponents seek to undo sunset provision


NOAA Fisheries announced last week that the 2016 red snapper season in federal waters will be just nine days while the charter/for-hire sector will have a 46-day season due to Amendment 40 - Sector Separation. Proponents of sector separation are now racing to lock the door behind them and leave private boat anglers fishing single-digit seasons for the foreseeable future.

When the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council voted to approve Amendment 40 and split for-hire operators into a separate sector with a percentage of the recreational quota of red snapper to use as its own, the proposal included a "sunset provision" that automatically ends the controversial system after three years unless the Gulf Council takes action to extend it. Proponents of sector separation are now seeking to remove the sunset provision entirely after a single year!

Read more: Anglers needed to stop latest snapper stunt

Water (chemical formula: H2O) is a transparent fluid which forms the world's streams, lakes, oceans and rain, and is the major constituent of the fluids of organisms.
A Fact is something that has really occurred or is actually the case.

As part of CCAFL’s on-going efforts to provide valuable information to its membership, CCAFL has combined these two words to provide recreational anglers with well-founded water facts that we will be calling and referring to now and into the future as “WACTS.”  As part of this effort, we will be providing information to our membership on water issues in specific regions of the state.  We begin with topics relevant to the South Region in this first edition.

Read more: CCA Florida Introduces "WACTS"

ASMFC evaluation of red drum stock raises questions

 

The long-awaited red drum stock assessment was presented to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) this week, and the initial results show cause for concern.


The Spawning Potential Ratio (SPR) for both the southern portion of the stock (Florida, Georgia and South Carolina) and the northern portion (North Carolina and points north) should be at least 30 percent.  This means the spawning stock for red drum must be at least 30 percent that of an unfished stock.  The estimates revealed this week indicate an SPR of 17 percent for the southern portion and just 9.1 percent for the northern portion.  Recreational anglers in several states along the Atlantic Coast have voiced concerns about the status of the red drum population, but these estimates, if correct, are alarming. They indicate stocks could be slipping below a level needed to maintain a healthy stock.

Read more: Atlantic red drum assessment cause for concern

The Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) and its Florida chapter, CCA Florida (CCAFL) have been successful for many years in efforts to preserve our marine resources, fisheries, and coastal habitats for future generations.  These activities have also accrued to the benefit of recreational anglers in Florida and throughout the country. Massive fresh water releases from Lake Okeechobee and run-off from the C-44 and C-43 basins into our estuaries have had a significant detrimental effect on the health of the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuary systems, while the Everglades and Florida Bay were deprived of much needed fresh water from an earlier drought.  Consequently, south Florida estuaries, river systems, the Everglades, and Florida Bay have been stressed beyond imagination and the state’s marine resources, fisheries, and all related industries are suffering. The current management strategy of Florida’s fresh water resources and Lake Okeechobee has stubbornly persisted for far too long.

CCAFL acknowledges:

In the summer of 2015, south Florida experienced a severe drought which negatively impacted Florida Bay.

In the dry season of 2015-16, south Florida experienced an unprecedented amount of rainfall throughout the system from the Kissimmee Valley to the Florida Keys.

There is no single cause or one easy fix to these problems.  All possible solutions are strategic, and will take several years.

Read more: Freshwater Discharge Management Issues

The future of recreational fishing in the Gulf of Mexico is for sale in Texas.


While charter boats and private recreational anglers in the Gulf were only allowed to catch red snapper in federal waters on 10 days last year, two companies in Galveston, Texas have been taking recreational anglers red snapper fishing all year round.


What's more, the companies allow the fishermen to keep as many red snapper as they want each day, blowing past the two-fish-per-day federal limit.


The only thing limiting how many snapper the customers are allowed to keep is how much they are willing to pay.


The Texas companies have been getting around the federal limits and seasons by selling the "Catch Shares Fishing Experience." The Texas companies involved own "catch shares" of the commercial red snapper fishery that allow them to harvest a set number of pounds per year for commercial sale.


Instead of catching those fish with a professional crew and selling them to a fish house, the captains are taking recreational anglers fishing and letting them buy the fish afterward.


For the customers, the catch share experience represents the ultimate fishing trip, where they can keep many more snapper than the two per person per day allowed under federal law. Meanwhile, the boat captains running the trips are able to market the fish as "fresh fish caught that day," which command a much higher price at the dock than most commercially caught snapper.

Read more: Texas charter captains use loophole to get around federal red snapper limits