Richard Shelby praises NOAA announcement of red snapper assessment

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Last month Alabama wildlife officials came out saying the federal government is still overestimating the amount of red snapper caught in the Gulf of Mexico.

According to a report from the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the federal government is “significantly overestimating” the harvest of red snapper by fishermen in Alabama.
In 2016, Alabama Wildlife Officials projected 1.5 million pounds of red snapper were caught between charter boats and recreational fishermen, whereas the government said 2.7 million pounds of snapper were landed in Alabama the same year. Thus, the annual catch season was limited to only nine days in July, dramatically impacting fishermen.

On Tuesday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced it is providing $9.5 million for an independent and external assessment to determine which figures are accurate and the total abundance of red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico.

Alabama’s senior U.S. Senator Richard Shelby, Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies (CJS), calls the announcement a “critical step” toward fishing reform.

“Today’s announcement by NOAA is a critical step towards much-needed reform to the way fish are counted in the Gulf of Mexico,” said Shelby.  “These efforts will help ensure that NOAA counts red snapper where they actually live – on reefs.”

In the fiscal year 2016 CJS Appropriations bill, Shelby included both funding and guidance for an assessment of red snapper Gulf-wide. This evaluation includes an examination of the population of red snapper on reefs and the new technologies available to more accurately count the fish.  Results from this independent study will be compared to NOAA’s internal estimates and will be used in future Gulf fisheries management decisions.

“I’m pleased that this assessment will provide an independent check on NOAA’s internal counts for red snapper in the Gulf, which is long overdue,” added Shelby. “My goal has always been, and will continue to be, to get our Gulf fishermen more days out on the water.”

Fishing for red snapper:

B-Roll: Red Snapper – Gulf of Mexico, Recreational Fishing from NOAA Fisheries on Vimeo.

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