By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Thursday, February 1, 2018 the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council approved an exempted fishing permit pilot program for the 2018 and 2019 Red Snapper seasons in the Gulf of Mexico. The program will allow the Gulf states to set their own Red Snapper season lengths.
Congressman Bradley Byrne, R-Montrose, applauded the decision.
“I want to thank the Gulf Council for their support of the exempted fishing permit pilot program to ensure local fishermen have an adequate Red Snapper season for the next two years,” Bryne said. “As I have always said, this issue is about so much for than just our fishermen. A full Red Snapper season is good news for the hotels, restaurants, gas stations, and other small businesses in our coastal communities.”
“I also want to thank Senator Richard Shelby, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Commissioner Chris Blankenship, and our other Gulf Coast colleagues for working together to ensure our fishermen and coastal communities have a full and adequate Red Snapper season,” Byrne said.
In December, Congressman Byrne sent a letter to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National marine Fisheries Service urging their support of the exempted fishing permit pilot program for Red Snapper.
Recreational fishing is a $1.5 billion dollar industry in Alabama. Red snapper fishing is particularly critical to the Alabama coastal economy.
Alabama has submitted a request to manage our own red snapper fishing season and for a June 1 to Sept. 3 season this year.
“While we are not quite there yet, this plan is light years better than the short seasons we suffered,” Auditor Jim Zeigler said. “My ultimate goal is to end federal regulation and allow Alabama to regulate our own fisherie.”
Zeigler is an angler himself living in Mobile.
The Alabama proposal went before a federal NOAA hearing in New Orleans Jan. 31.
Zeigler told the Alabama Political Reporter, “The federal government just can’t count fish.”
The red snapper season has been a point of contention for years.
At the lowest point in the debate for the state, the Obama administration limited the state’s recreational red snapper season to just 8 days.
Bradley Byrne represents Alabama’s 1st Congressional District.