According to a spokesman for Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, There may be no 2013 red snapper season in federal waters of the EEZ (Economic Development Zone), which begins 9 miles off the Texas coast. This is the latest in political maneuvering by NOAA/NMFS to “punish” Texas for failing to mirror the strict federal red snapper regulations in state waters. Texas evidently is blamed for the announcement by Louisiana and Florida that they would not enforce the federal regs in their state waters, either. The word had already been out for offshore anglers to expect no more than a 28 day red snapper season in federal waters, and then NOAA/NMFS changed that to 11 days OFF TEXAS ONLY, the other areas of the Gulf would have the 28 day season. Texas officials have responded by saying they are “outraged” by this move, and a meeting of the Parks & Wildlife Commission in two weeks will probably focus mainly on what steps to take in response to this action. NOAA/NMFS own suspect data has shown red snapper to be rebounding, and the reason for the short seasons in the last two years has been because the TAC (Total Allowable Catch) in pounds has been exceeded by recreational fishermen – NOT because they have caught too many fish, but because the average size (and thus weight) of the individual fish is getting larger. This sort of “Catch 22” logic is resulting in fishermen not being allowed to catch fish which are increasing in size and numbers to the point that they are endangering other fish species – triggerfish – and competing for food with many others.
Look for this to be a serious battle of state’s rights versus federal jurisdiction, as the Gulf states push for regional management of fisheries. Interested fishermen might be advised to contact their state AND federal representatives about this matter.