U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, II issued the following statement Monday in advance of a National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) stock assessment to be released next week that could impact the length of the insufficient 28-day red snapper season currently in place for the Gulf of Mexico:
“NOAA’s release next week of a recently conducted stock assessment on Gulf red snapper should confirm the concerns of local fishermen already painfully aware that the current system is broken. This stock assessment should have been completed and presented to the Gulf Council before the last meeting in April, not in the middle of a season that is already two weeks underway. The best way to restore certainty for Gulf fishermen rocked by three changes to their snapper season this year is to extend their season into the peak July vacation period.
“Stock assessments on economically valuable fish like red snapper should be conducted responsibly, reaffirming certainty for coastal economies that are in desperate need of it. It’s inexcusable that regulators demand accountability from our citizens without a reasonable expectation that we receive the same accountability from regulators.”