U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), top Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, made the following statement regarding the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council's vote to move forward on Amendment 28, which for the first time since 1990 would reallocate red snapper quotas. Vitter originally requested Amendment 28 be considered during the nomination process for Dr. Kathryn Sullivan to be the Undersecretary for Oceans and Atmosphere, and Administrator of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

"This is huge news for Gulf Coast recreational anglers. After months of urging NOAA and the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council to take action on Amendment 28, they have finally started moving on it. Louisiana and Gulf Coast anglers are one step closer to a reformed and updated fishery management system," said Vitter. "Council action today is an important step in reviewing allocation, and we intend to follow it through to completion. Proactively managing Gulf fisheries based on the best science and economics should always be the ultimate goal, and this is a positive step in the meantime that could lead to an economic boost for Gulf economies, something we can all support."

The Council selected Alternative 5 as its preferred alternative in Amendment 28, which now goes out for a series of public hearings in all the Gulf states. Alternative 5 calls for any increases over 9.12 million pounds to be allocated 75 percent to the recreational sector and 25 percent to the commercial sector. Once the public hearings are concluded, the Amendment will come back before the Council in May for a final decision. Click here to read more.

"Today's council action is a sign the Gulf Council understands that the Gulf is home to dynamic fisheries, and that ignoring scientific and economic data supporting reallocation is no longer tenable or in the Nation's best interest," said Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Coastal Conservation. "We're certainly grateful for Sen. Vitter's leadership in urging NOAA to take action."

In response to Vitter's efforts and requests to Sullivan regarding her nomination, NOAA agreed to:

• Engage all regional Fishery Management Councils, with the goal of developing guidance documents for the periodic review of allocation quotas to be included in the National Guidelines.
• Increase its leadership role on the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Gulf Council), including supporting the addition of Amendment 28, a proposal of six options for updating allocations levels of allowable catch of red snapper beyond the historical high level of 9.12 million pounds, to the Gulf Council's February agenda.

Earlier this year, Vitter introduced the Offshore Fairness Act, which would extend the offshore jurisdiction for fishery management for states from Louisiana to Virginia. Vitter's bill would put the states in charge of red snapper management until each state's governor certifies that NOAA's stock assessments are complete and based on sound science. Click here to read more.