By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Thursday, August 28, Congressman Bradley Byrne (R) from Montrose issued a statement in response to findings by the Alabama Red Snapper Reporting program indicated that the Federal National Marine Fishery Service had “grossly overestimated” Red Snapper landings in Alabama.
Representative Byrne said: “Is anyone really surprised that the federal government miscalculated the number of Red Snapper caught in Alabama waters? For years the feds have failed to adequately account for the total fishing effort placed on the Red Snapper fishery. This latest failure is just another in a long line of mismanagement by the National Marine Fishery Service, that is both unfair and hurting our fishermen.”
Rep. Byrne said, “I worked to get commonsense reforms included in the Magnuson-Stevens reauthorization legislation, which passed out of the House Natural Resources Committee earlier this year. My office is in continued dialogue with House leaders to hold a vote on this legislation by the full House of Representatives by the end of the year. Our fisherman and coastal communities are being negatively impacted by yet another misguided federal program, and it is time Congress acts to make things right.”
Congressman Byrne has been an advocate for reforming the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, which has jurisdiction over all federal fisheries. As it relates to Red Snapper, the commonsense, reform bill Byrne supports would:
1. Repeal Section 407(d) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, which imposed inflexible quotas on Red Snapper fishing.
2. Extend Alabama’s state water boundary from the current 3 nautical miles to 9 nautical miles from shore.
3. Remove stock assessment and data collection responsibilities for reef fish currently held by the federal government and give the responsibility to Gulf Coast states.
Recreational fishing is a huge tourist attraction in Alabama. One of the most popular saltwater fish species is red snapper. The Federal government regulates how many red snapper that can be legally be put on a boat. Commercial fisherman successfully argued to Federal Fishery officials that recreational fisherman have exceeded their collective quota. The Federal government punished recreational fishermen by limiting the amount of days that a recreational fisherman can fish for and keep a red snapper to just 9 days this year. Outside of that nine day season any red snapper caught by a recreational fisherman must be released back to the ocean. Recent reports call into question whether or not quotas were ever violated by Alabama’s fishermen.
Congressman Bradley Byrne represents Alabama’s First Congressional District.