Last week, Congressman Walter Jones (R-NC) and Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-FL) wrote to Dr. Roy Crabtree, Regional Administrator of NOAA’s Southeast Regional Office, requesting the Agency explain its decision to close the commercial and recreational red snapper fisheries for 2015.

The Congressmen question the data used by the Agency to close the red snapper fishery, noting that NOAA’s estimate for red snapper landings in an abbreviated 2014 fishing season was “nearly 3 times the estimate for a full fishing year in 2013; and similar to the average annual catch estimate for the period 1992 to 2009 when fishing occurred year-round.”

The letter raised several questions about the quality of scientific data available for fish stocks in the South Atlantic. It asked why the Agency has not conducted a stock assessment for red snapper since 2010, and why, despite the “controversial closure” of the fishery following that assessment, no follow-up has yet been conducted. Among other data issues, the letter also inquired on why most stocks in the South Atlantic are considered to be “data-poor,” and why requests for cooperative research with the regional fishing industry “have largely fallen on deaf ears.”

The Congressmen’s letter, and its requests for answers regarding the quality of scientific data on red snapper, was praised by regional fishery advocates.

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