As publisher Josh Olive pointed out in his editorial last week, offshore anglers might not be blamed if they’re feeling a little shell-shocked after recent announcements from the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council. The Gulf Council issued four notices last month that anglers have generally regarded as bad news. Here’s a recap:
• On April 10, it was announced that the recreational red snapper season in federal waters of the Gulf will be only 11 days in length, running from June 1 to 11. There is a controversial mix of issues that resulted in a season that’s been drastically shortened since last year, but chief among them is the estimation by federal fishery managers that recreational anglers caught more than their allotment of red snapper during 2013. To compensate for this overharvest, the difference must be made up with a lowered allotment for 2014. And to ensure that the new, lower allocation is not exceeded, the season has been shortened accordingly. This announcement is particularly galling because almost everyone associated with the fishery agrees that during the last decade, red snapper have become more numerous, more widespread and larger in size than at any time in recent memory. Regardless, the annual harvest allocations do not seem to be increasing as quickly as the fish stock. This creates a catch-22 situation, where the improved fishing results in shortened seasons when anglers catch the allocation in an ever-shorter time.
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