Conservation groups sue feds to protect Red Snapper, promote reform

red snapper

Two environmental groups are suing the Trump administration for extending the red snapper season in federal and state waters within the Gulf of Mexico this year.

The Environmental Defense Fund and Ocean Conservancy filed a lawsuit on Monday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against a U.S. Department of Commerce June decision that allowed  recreational anglers to fish for red snapper in federal and state waters for 39 weekend days Friday through Labor Day.

According to the groups, the decision “puts red snapper recovery at risk, jeopardizing fishing businesses and recreational fishing for the species. It also violates several provisions of federal law.”

“The way we manage recreational red snapper fishing stinks, and saltwater anglers like me are demanding change,” said Robert Jones, Director of Environmental Defense Fund’s Gulf of Mexico Oceans Program. “The recovery of the species is an incredible opportunity. I was recently offshore from Galveston and the water is teeming with red snapper. But instead of anglers and recreational fishing businesses reaping the benefits, we are stuck in a downward spiral of failure. This lawsuit is about catalyzing change.”

Jones continued, “Year-round state-water seasons combined with minuscule federal seasons suffocate our access to the best offshore fishing grounds. And I sure as heck don’t want to return to the days when my dad and I could barely find a red snapper due to decades of overfishing. What we demand is innovative, solutions-oriented reform that harnesses new approaches like Louisiana’s LA Creel program, gives us flexible access, and ensures that future generations of Americans can enjoy the thrill of catching red snapper.”

The extended season came after the NOAA Fisheries in May approved a recreational season of three days — June 1-3, which fishing enthusiasts decried as being far too short. Alabama lawmakers quickly took action reaching out to federal officials to lengthen the season, which was the shortest ever in the Gulf of Mexico.

After extensive debate on both the Gulf Coast and Capitol Hill, the Department of Commerce approved the extended season.

According to the lawsuit, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and two federal agencies — the National Marine Fisheries Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — were listed as the defendants.