In a scene that has become distressingly familiar to Florida anglers, the federal government has announced another closure of a popular recreational species - this time red grouper. In announcing the closure, NOAA Fisheries stated that "abundant red grouper are being found closer to shore in shallower water this year, making them more accessible to the recreational sector."
Unfortunately, under federal management a stock that is more abundant than presumed and more available to anglers means that it has to be shut down to stay within quotas based on an obviously suspect assessment and dubious harvest data.
It is red snapper all over again, and is just another example of how far off the rails federal fisheries management has gone.
The red grouper closure follows a 9-day red snapper season and tightening regulations for amberjack, gag grouper and grey triggerfish. King mackerel remain relatively abundant but the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council is seriously considering shifting recreational quota to the commercial sector because the recreational sector is not catching all of its quota. Of course, if we caught all of our quota the feds would penailzie us by closing down the fishery immediately!
NOAA Fisheries has proven time and again that under current law it cannot manage recreational fisheries in a way that makes sense. Momentum is building to shift management of federal fisheries to the states, who have proven far more capable of managing for the health of the resource and for the greatest access of their citizens. There is already federal legislation pending to move management of Gulf red snapper to the states; the red grouper closure is confirmation that broken federal fisheries management isn't limited to just one fishery.
Take a few minutes to click the link below and encourage your elected officials to support legislation to shift management of our Gulf fisheries to the states. If you don't like what you see in federal waters, make your voice heard. Enough is enough!
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