It’s time for feds to change tone

This weekend’s weather all the more proves that the federal scheme for managing the recreational take of red snapper is flawed. And that’s putting it politely.

What’s not polite is the way Roy Crabtree, the federally appointed administrator of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, has treated our state after our Wildlife and Fisheries Commission decided to set a state red snapper season.

Crabtree declared Friday that Louisiana will get a nine-day recreational red snapper season.

All that state and federal posturing said, if Saturday was the June 1 opener of the recreational red snapper season, thunderstorms and 3-5 foot seas already would cut our season to seven of the nine days the federally controlled GMFMC believes we should have in federal waters off our coast.

Under the state’s plan, we’re still losing those two days, but we have every weekend between now and the end of September to catch red snapper in what our state believes is out 10.357 miles instead of the 3 miles the feds want us to have for fisheries management.

Fact is, recreational fishermen were OK years ago when Crabtree’s council began limiting days and the number of fish we could keep on those days. Remember the “good old days” when we had nearly four months of a recreational season and a four-per-day limit?

Since then, and what’s been irritating Louisiana’s offshore fishermen is that as the red snapper have rebounded — there’s scientific data to back up that recovery — the red snapper seasons have been getting shorter and shorter and the daily limit has been two for too many years.

For the folks who don’t venture offshore, this likely isn’t that big a deal.

But it should be, because management of the red snapper, especially the rebuilt stocks in the western Gulf of Mexico, is another example of why we must take a hard look at issues whenever the federal government decides, or dictates, that it knows best how to handle the situation.

There are times when Washington’s bureaucracy can do that, but we have so many other instances when they proved they can’t.

The problem here is that the federals in charge will never admit they made a mistake, and Crabtree’s latest move is proof.

What the Gulf Council has accomplished is adding more jobs to the federal payroll, given ownership of the species in federal waters to a group that appears more interested in preserving and enhancing their jobs, and become less and less responsible to the people they are supposed to serve.

Now that Mother Nature has washed away two days from Louisiana’s summer-long red snapper season, it sure does look like the state’s plan is workable, and begs another question: What fish species does our state manage that’s in trouble?

Fact is, none, while the batting average for federal managers is, in baseball parlance, somewhere below the Mendoza Line.