The Gulf of Mex­ico Fish­ery Man­age­ment Coun­cil ap­proved ex­empted fish­ing per­mits (EFPS) for all five Gulf states, re­mov­ing a ma­jor hur­dle from the ini­tia­tive to let each man­age recre­ational red snap­per fish­ing off their re­spec­tive coasts.

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The EFPS, which cover the 2018 and 2019 fish­ing years, al­low recre­ation­ally caught red snap­per to be landed within cer­tain time pe­ri­ods de­ter­mined by the re­spec­tive states. Red snap­per land­ings would be mon­i­tored by the states, and the re­spec­tive state sea­sons would close when the state’s quota is caught or pro­jected to be caught.

De­vel­op­ment and ap­proval of the Gulf states’ EFPS was fa­cil­i­tated by lan­guage from Sen. Richard Shelby, R-ala., in the FY2017 Com­merce, Jus­tice and Sci­ence Ap­pro­pri­a­tions bill that di­rected NOAA Fish­eries to de­velop the fish­ery man­age­ment pi­lot pro­gram al­low­ing states to man­age Gulf red snap­per. With the Gulf coun­cil’s ap­proval, NOAA is now re­quired to pub­lish the plans and al­low for a 30-day com­ment pe­riod. NOAA must then rat­ify each plan be­fore im­ple­men­ta­tion.

“As an or­ga­ni­za­tion that has long pushed for state man­age­ment of Gulf red snap­per, we are thank­ful for the Gulf coun­cil’s vote to al­low the states to test red snap­per man­age­ment. Each of the Gulf states is to be com­mended for putting for­ward well-thought-out pro­pos­als that will demon­strate their abil­ity to ef­fec­tively man­age recre­ational red snap­per fish­ing,” said Amer­i­can Sport­fish­ing As­so­ci­a­tion’s Con­ser­va­tion Di­rec­tor Mike Leonard.

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