"The issues surrounding the red snapper fishery in the Gulf of Mexico are very important to the State of Louisiana, and we request that you give this issue your immediate and focused attention so that the current deteriorating situation between the states and NOAA is not exacerbated," wrote Sen. Vitter and Rep. Cassidy. "We encourage you to accept this request in order to open a dialogue with state officials about how NOAA and the State of Louisiana can move forward together to address the catch limits being placed on Louisiana's red snapper fishery."
"NOAA's mismanagement of this process and the serious concerns that the Agency is not competently conducting stock assessments is creating a situation that will soon further destroy any trust in the States that the federal government can appropriately manage the red snapper fishery," said Vitter.
We have heard countless instances of the federal government miscounting fish populations in the Gulf of Mexico and Southern Atlantic Ocean. This impacts how long fishing seasons last every year and thus the success of commercial fishers and recreational anglers. States along the Gulf and Southern Atlantic take pride in their waters and their rich recreational fishing culture. They are natural stewards of these waters and are already successful at managing fisheries under their control," said Cassidy.
NOAA's current stock assessment of Gulf States' red snapper fisheries has been criticized as flawed and based on incomplete science. Sen. Vitter and Rep. Cassidy have championed Gulf States' rights to exclusively manage each of their red snapper fisheries out to 200 miles, and also included this provision in the 2013 Offshore Fairness Act.
Text of the letter is below. Click here for the PDF version.
May 1, 2012
Acting Secretary Rebecca Blank
U.S. Department of Commerce
1401 Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, D.C. 20230
Dear Acting Secretary Blank,
As you are aware, several Louisiana State Senators have requested that you send Dr. Roy Crabtree, the regional administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries Service's Southeast Regional Office, along with his support staff of scientists, to appear before the Louisiana Senate Committee on Natural Resources to discuss the current situation surrounding the red snapper fishery in the Gulf of Mexico.
We encourage you to accept this request in order to open a dialogue with state officials about how NOAA and the State of Louisiana can move forward together to address the catch limits being placed on Louisiana's red snapper fishery. The issues surrounding the red snapper fishery in the Gulf of Mexico are very important to the State of Louisiana, and we request that you give this issue your immediate and focused attention so that the current deteriorating situation between the states and NOAA is not exacerbated.
We look forward to your prompt response, and further request that you provide us with answers to the following background questions/requests for information regarding this issue:
(1) Please provide information pertaining to the justification for and jurisdictional authority for the issuance of the emergency rule published in the Federal Register on March 25, 2013 regarding the recreational closure authority specific to federal waters off the coast of Louisiana for the recreational red snapper component of the Gulf of Mexico reef fish fishery;
(2) What methodology is utilized to determine the length, allocations, and quotas for the red snapper season?
(3) What plans does your department have for the future allocations and quotas of red snapper?
(4) Please provide an update on the regional and Gulf of Mexico red snapper stock assessments on natural and artificial habitats;
(5) Please provide information pertaining to the current general conditions and health of the Gulf red snapper fishery, as well as National Marine Fisheries Service projections;
(6) What is required of the State of Louisiana to garner additional allocations or quotas based on the state's management of the red snapper fishery?
United States Senator
United States Congressman
Regional Administrator Dr. Robert Crabtree
NOAA Fisheries Service
Southeast Regional Office
263 13th Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33701