Posted by CCA Florida
Published: 23 September 2015
Last Updated: 23 September 2015
CCA believes that the red snapper fishery in the South Atlantic is headed in the right direction. It was only a few years ago that federal managers were threatening to close down all bottom fishing throughout the South Atlantic to prevent even bycatch mortality from impacting red snapper stocks. Thankfully, we avoided that scenario. Since then, extremely short recreational seasons have been touted as a way to help in data collection to better assess the South Atlantic red snapper stock more thoroughly. However, those short seasons have produced wild “yo-yo” regulations that have caused a great deal of confusion and anger within the recreational angling community.
There are legitimate conservation concerns with the South Atlantic stock of red snapper that need to be evaluated by scientists using ongoing fishery independent techniques to determine the health of the stock. If those techniques show that the red snapper stock is expanding and capable of sustaining a meaningful recreational season, then CCA is in favor of establishing the longest season possible without tipping the stock back into decline. We must avoid any possibility of federal managers or environmental groups using the condition of red snapper to revive calls for a total bottom closure.
Federal managers are on record stating that a single year-class of red snapper is creating the impression of a healthy South Atlantic red snapper stock and that there are very few older, larger fish in the population. Filling out the age and geographical distribution of a stock are worthy goals for successful management, but we believe there is room to achieve those goals while allowing reasonable recreational seasons along the way. Current federal assessments that fully evaluate the status of the stock every three to four years are inadequate. CCA has called on the federal government to make more of an investment into properly assessing fish stocks more often, with the goal of conducting assessments on important species on an annual basis and proactively basing regulations on those results, rather than attempting to manage recreational harvests to the pound during chaotically short recreational seasons and basing punitive measures on those results.