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Red Snapper regulation changes

Some big changes could be coming to red snapper regulations for federal waters.
The current forty day season could end up being shortened to less than a dozen.

This comes after a group of commercial fisherman pointed out that in three of the last four seasons, recreational fisherman caught more than their quota of snapper.
   
The only exception came after the BP Oil Spill.   
Rob Brown "A lawsuit brought by a group of commercial fisherman against multiple government agencies in charge of regulating red snapper numbers in the Gulf of Mexico could have severe impact on this year's red snapper season."

21 commercial fisherman sued agencies including the National Marine Fisheries Service, or NMFS.
A judge agreed, saying recreational fisherman were allowed to catch more than their share of snapper.
   
The suit says those agencies used faulty science, failing to monitor the quota correctly.

It also accused the NMFS of acknowledging overfishing last year, but discounting it and opening a second season.
   
The judge said all future decisions about snapper must be made with a priority on preventing overfishing.

When the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council Reef Fish Committee meets Thursday in Baton Rouge, they'll vote on the season's limits in federal waters.
   
One suggestion includes an eleven day season, to prevent recreational fisherman from going over their quota.

Mike Eller captains The Lady EM, and says the decision will have a huge impact on the area.

Mike Eller "The word has not gotten out to the public yet so I imagine the next few days our phone's going to start ringing off the hook with people saying 'hey, we booked specifically to go red snapper fishing, you told us it was going be open, now it's not going to be open. So what do we do now?'"

The new regulations would only concern federal waters, as Florida governs its own state waters.
   
But Eller says 90% of charter boats on the gulf coast have a federal permit, and that the whole gulf coast will feel the consequences.

We're going to have a bunch of irate people that say 'you told us we could go fishing for red snappers on June 17th. We booked our flights, we booked our hotels.'"

Rob Brown "Florida's Wildlife Resource Committee will meet next Wednesday and is expected to approve that 40 day season in state waters for those with state permits.