Spending Bill Directs New and Better NOAA Stock Assessments, Encourages Increased Recreational Allocation and Enhances State Management of Fishery
WASHINGTON, DC – (December 16) – The Center for Coastal Conservation today praised Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) for sponsoring a series of provisions in the year-end omnibus spending bill that CCC president Jeff Angers called “a game-changer” for red snapper management in the Gulf of Mexico.
“For America’s 11 million recreational anglers, this is a great present that we find under the tree, and we’re grateful to Senator Shelby,” said Angers. “Senator Shelby’s work on this measure is sure to get more recreational anglers out on the water – a good thing for us and a good thing for the economy of coastal communities along the entire Gulf.”
Shelby’s provisions direct the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to fund agency-independent stock assessments for Gulf reef fish, including red snapper.
Unlike previous population counts, Angers said, Shelby’s amendment directs that this one include artificial reefs and offshore energy infrastructure, where the prized reef fish tends to inhabit. Inclusion of these structures, Anglers predicted, “is likely to produce a more accurate and robust population count.”
“Importantly,” Angers said, “recreational anglers will likely gain an increased allocation of the growth in the red snapper population that is realized in the new census.”
The measure, Angers said, “takes major steps forward in correcting federal mismanagement of red snapper,” by expanding management responsibilities of the states and expanding state fishery management boundaries for Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana from three to nine miles offshore.
House and Senate negotiators reached agreement last night on the $1.1 trillion omnibus bill, which encompasses all 12 annual appropriations bills. The full House and Senate are expected to vote on the measure on Friday.