The Wild Side for Jan 27, 2013

You have only two more days to post your comments about Reef Fish Amendment 39, the instrument that could, if enacted, change the way recreational fishermen take red snapper from the Gulf of Mexico.

RFA 39 deals with regional management of red snapper for recreational fishermen, and the ongoing battle between recreational fishermen and the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council makes it even more important you make your wishes known.

The quickest way to do that is via website: http://tinyurl.com/8gzj87p.

Here’s what you need to know: The amendment is designed to hand over control of recreational red snapper to the five Gulf states.

Last year, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries stepped up to the plate first with a plan to manage red snapper off our coast, and set creel limits and seasons to take what state biologists and fishery managers believe is our 15 percent share of the recreational take of red snapper.

In June, the GMFMC moved to request the LDWF provide its regional management plan along with a plan to develop Gulf-wide regional management.

Since then, the GMFMC’s staff developed a “scoping” document that would outline alternatives, define regions, determine allocations and other management plans. It was followed by staffs from the five states agreeing to demand the council study regional management.

So, today, from Louisiana’s each-state plan, the scoping document identifies five regions and asks for other public comment about the plan. (A GMFMC member confirmed last week that the other four state’s plans maps were drawn by council staff to water down and further confuse the issue.)

From here, the best is that each state manage its own waters, even the waters out into what the federals consider to be “their” water, the distance from state water boundaries out to the country’s claim at 200 miles.

For Louisiana, the best is that we manage our seasons and daily limits according to what the scoping document calls “biological abundance,” not the other choices of “historical landings data” or “angler abundance.”

And each state’s fishery agency should get the money the GMFMC uses to manage this fishery. Problem is nothing will be done this year, and we can only hope that this plan will be in place for 2014.