Alabama politicians lament 9 day Red Snapper season: It’s a ‘disgrace’

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Congressman Bradley Byrne, Republican of the state’s first district, which encompasses Alabama’s two gulf counties, and State Auditor Jim Zeigler both spoke out Wednesday against the continuation of a federally-imposed nine day Red Snapper season.

“A nine day Red Snapper season is a disgrace for Alabama’s fishermen,” wrote Byrne in a press release Wednesday. “This type of ‘derby-style’ season poses serious challenges and puts the safety of our fishermen at risk. There are plenty of Red Snapper in the Gulf, but the federal government continues to do a terrible job of counting the number of fish, as well as the number caught each year.

The season, which will run this year from June 1st-June 10th is decided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The administration makes the determination yearly based on “scientific studies of the Gulf and past catches of red snapper.”

For-hire charter fishing boats will have a longer season, lasting 46 days from June 1st to July 17th.

Byrne has long argued the determination of the prized fish’s season should be taken out of the hands of the federal government, and instead given to research institutions to decide, saying federal regulators consistently underestimate the amount of red snapper in the Gulf and overestimate the number caught each year.

Zeigler echoed these concerns, calling the short season “unacceptable.”

“These federal limits are totally unacceptable,” said the State Auditor. “They are based on bad science and improper counting of the snapper fishery. We need to get Alabama out from under federal regulation and have state conservation handle our fishery. Can you imagine paying for a boat to go snapper fishing and only being able to use it for nine days?”
In 2015 the U.S. House passed legislation, championed by Byrne, which would have extended state water boundaries for each Gulf state to nine nautical miles from the coast and removed data collection and stock assessments from federal control, but it was never taken up the the Senate.
“The House has passed reform legislation that would give us a real season again,” Byrne concluded, “and it is past time for the Senate to act on our legislation and bring relief to our fishermen.”
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