The Red Snapper situation in the gulf is a complete mess. Anglers are faced with the shortest Federal Red Snapper Season in History while having higher fish populations than ever before (depending on who you ask). While the federal government claims that snapper would be overfished if the season wasn’t so short, Alabama and Northwest Florida Anglers know that most reefs in the gulf look like this.
Dr. Bob Shipp, author of Guide to the Fishes of the Gulf of Mexico, and standing member of scientific and statistical committee for the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council has this to say about Red Snapper stocks. “We could have a 180-day season, 2 fish bag limit, and it wouldn’t make a dent in our population off Alabama.” Listen to Dr. Bob’s full comments on the entire debate here.
We write extensively on other species that you can target in our beautiful region, but today I want to talk with you about what you can do to make a difference on the Red Snapper debate that is ongoing. You’re mad and I understand that. What I don’t understand is when I see my fellow anglers quick to complain but when it comes time to show up, they are no where to be found. If you want to do what you can to improve the situation. Here is what to do:
Call Your Congressman
Beebe Frederick, Southeastern States Director of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation says the following, “Currently in this Congress, HR 2023 Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2017 has been introduced. This bill will modify some of the provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA) to allow more flexibility in managing the red snapper and other federally managed species. Contact your Congressman and voice support for HR 2023 as well as ask them to co-sign the bill.” But I don’t think you should necessarily take Beebe’s word for it. Do some research yourself. Educate yourself on HR2023 and you make the decision. Beware the law of unintended consequences. A full list of all of Alabama’s representatives can be found here. Florida’s representatives here.
Attend a Gulf Council Meeting
Do you think it is unfair that the commercial and for hire private sectors have a longer federal season? Let’s think about this for a second. The federal snapper season is going to be 3 days long in 2017. If recreational anglers had the entire quota, meaning you could catch all of the fish that the commercial sector catches, how long would your season be? 6 days? Maybe 9?
There are quite a few disgruntled anglers who have turned to pointing their finger at the charter or commercial sector. There are even grumblings of an attempt to block Perdido Pass on opening day. While I understand the anger and frustration over the shortened season, bickering amongst these groups will do nothing to make the season longer. Taking the fish that hard working people rely on is not the answer.
Many of the decisions that have adversely affected private recreational anglers in the Gulf have been made at the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council.The Council meets five times each year, at different locations around the Gulf. Pay attention to what’s going on within the council relative to recreational fisheries, show up at the next meeting and voice your opinion during the public testimony portion of the meeting. If you want to be heard, you’ve got to show up. The fact is, commercial and private for hire interests have been better organized and in attendance at these meetings for many years. They spend their hard earned money to travel to these meetings across the South. Their voices have been heard.
Conclusion: Be Proactive
One of the 7 habits of Highly effective people is to “Be Proactive.” Get out there and make a difference where you can even if it is small. Ineffective people are caught in the trap of focusing on their concerns and in turn never actually make any difference. By focusing on your circle of influence, your influence actually grows and can begin to incorporate more of what you are concerned about. If you really care about your fishing future, start by taking the two steps above. You’ll make the most impact and sleep well at night knowing you’ve done all you can to preserve the traditions that anglers in our area have cherished for so long.