By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Critics of the Obama administration say that nation has millions of barrels of oil that we could be drilling for if only the federal government would get out of the way. Canada has millions of barrels of oil we could put Americans too work refining if only the federal government would get out of the way and allow us to build he Keystone XL pipeline. We have over 400 years of cheap, efficient energy and thousands of good paying American jobs to be had in America’s abundant coal reserves, but Washington bureaucrats keep getting in the way. American ranchers like Cliven Bundy are being forced off lands their families’ cows have grazed on for over a century because of often imaginary threats to tortoises, prairie dogs, and ferrets, while beef is at record prices and America’s cow herd is shrinking. Here in Alabama, Birmingham has dozens of good industrial sites for new industries but draconian regulations from Washington and ever changing air quality standards keep getting in the way of putting more Americans back to work. Similarly, we have dozens of charter boats who are ready and willing to go take American’s fishing for red snapper, but the federal government and its every expanding and increasingly complicated regulatory burden is again in the way.
Congresman Bradley Byrne (R) from Montrose said, “On March 27, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia found that the federal government failed to properly regulate the established quotas for Red Snapper fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. Based upon this finding, earlier this month the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council voted in an emergency meeting to shorten the 2014 Red Snapper season from its original 40 days to 11 days this summer.”
Representative Byrne said, “Unnecessarily stringent restrictions on fishing have effects far beyond our charter boats, commercial vessels and private anglers. Local bait and tackle shops, gas stations and marinas, boat dealers, restaurants, grocery stores and the hospitality industry all bear the impact of overly restrictive fisheries management policies. Tourists book trips months in advance of the summer season to fish on charter boats, stay in local residences and hotels and eat at local restaurants that all feature Red Snapper on the menu.”
Many on the Gulf Coast have questioned the accuracy of the federal government’s snapper assessments. Senator Richard Shelby (R) from Alabama made the following statement last year about the need for more accurate red snapper assessments: “I have heard from many members of the Alabama Gulf Coast community who are growing increasingly concerned with the quality and accuracy of fisheries stock assessments in the Gulf region. Stock assessments are an essential component of any regional fisheries management plan, and these assessments must reflect an accurate evaluation of the population. I am pleased to join my Gulf State colleagues in asking GAO to examine the accuracy of this process and look forward to examining its findings.”
Rep. Byrne said, “The Alabama coast clearly depends heavily on this industry, and an 11-day Red Snapper season would be a devastating blow to these coastal communities. This decision merely highlights the fact that our regulatory system in the Gulf of Mexico is unquestionably broken, and that significant reforms must be made to achieve any kind of a workable solution.”
The conservative Alabama Congressman said, “Earlier this month I introduced the Supporting New Avenues for Protecting our fishermen’s Resources (SNAPR) Act to provide relief to these coastal communities reliant on a more reasonable Red Snapper season. This bill is simple: it repeals the mandatory quotas under the Magnuson-Stevens law governing Red Snapper fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. By repealing this section which played a significant part in the Court’s decision, I am confident we will give the Gulf Council sufficient flexibility to reverse their decision limiting the Red Snapper season to 11 days. We have to take action to alleviate this burden on our Gulf coast communities. I’m working with my colleagues on the House Natural Resources Committee to communicate the urgent need for reform to provide emergency relief right away to these fishermen.”
Byrne said, “In the long term, I firmly believe that in order to reach a solution that works, the federal government must be cut out of this process entirely. NOAA has proven it is completely incapable of providing sound science that accurately portrays the health of the Red Snapper fishery in the Gulf, and the federal government’s regulatory framework is clearly flawed. As we move forward with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act reauthorization in the Natural Resources Committee later this year, I’ll look for solutions that return more power to the states and give fishermen a Red Snapper season based in reality, not flawed science.”
Congressman Bradley Byrne represents Alabama’s First Congressional District.