Letter notes disastrous impacts of National Marine Fisheries Service’s (NMFS) attempted use of flawed science and a one-size-fits-all approach to overseeing fisheries
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) joined 37 Members of Congress from across the southeast to urge U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) Secretary Gina Raimondo to direct the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) toward state management and improved data utilization during red snapper fishing season. The letter comes in response to the agency’s proposed rule requiring all state fisheries data to be converted into a single federal system, ultimately resulting in a less accurate assessment of red snapper limits.
“We urge you to rethink this proposed rule and work with us and our state managers to implement common sense solutions that will untangle this regulatory knot while setting a strong precedent for how state and federal management can work together to more effectively and sustainably manage recreational fisheries,” the members wrote. “We must express our frustration when we see NMFS, not only failing to do their part, but preventing us in the Gulf from doing ours.”
A copy of the letter can be found here.
Other signers include U.S. Senators Roger Wicker (R-MS), Richard Shelby, (R-AL), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), John Kennedy (R-LA), and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), as well as U.S. Representatives Garret Graves (R-LA-06), Bennie Thompson (D-MS-02), Robert Aderholt (R-AL-04), Mike Rogers (R-AL-03), Vern Buchanan (R-FL-16), Rob Wittman (R-VA-01), Steve Scalise (R-LA-01), Mo Brooks (R-AL-05), Steven Palazzo (R-MS-04), Austin Scott (R-GA-08), Daniel Webster (R-FL-11), Randy Weber (R-TX-14), Brian Babin (R-TX-36), Buddy Carter (R-GA-01), Bruce Westerman (R-AR-04), Trent Kelly (R-MS-01), Neal Dunn (R-FL-02), Clay Higgins (R-LA-03), Mike Johnson (R-LA-04), Matt Gaetz (R-FL-01), Michael Guest (R-MS-03), Greg Steube (R-FL-17), Gary Palmer (R-AL-06), Cliff Bentz (R-OR-02), Jerry Carl (R-AL-01), Barry Moore (R-AL-02), Byron Donalds (R-FL-19), Carlos Gimenez (R-FL-26), Julia Letlow (R-LA-05), Troy Carter (D-LA-02), and Mayra Flores (R-TX-34).
Throughout red snapper season, the Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council estimates quotas and annual catch targets by using state data. The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Management and Conservation Act requires that the best available data be used for decision-making and the Modern Fish Act requires NMFS to coordinate with states to get the best available data. However, the Great Red Snapper Count’s (an independent, effective study by Congress providing higher-quality fisheries data) data regarding fishing limits showed the overfishing limit should increase, but the NMFS decreased the limit because the agency is not using the best available data for decision making or coordinating with the states. In order for our regulations to be accurate, states must have management flexibility for the best sustainable fishing opportunities.
Senator Tommy Tuberville represents Alabama in the United States Senate and is a member of the Senate Armed Services, Agriculture, Veterans’ Affairs, and HELP Committees.