BATON ROUGE, Louisiana — Reef Fish Amendment 40, a move in the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council to divide the annual recreational red snapper quota in the Gulf's vast federal waters between private anglers and "for-hire" charter boat operations, passed by a 10-7 vote in the final hours of the council's quarterly meeting last week in Mobile, Alabama.
The approval of the controversial plan that could carve as much as 47 percent of the annual recreational red snapper take for charter boat operators came despite the appeal of the governors from the five Gulf states, a plea from the 300-member Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus and widespread pleas from recreational fishermen to turn down the move.
Recreational fishermen operated under a plan that gave then 49 percent of the 11-million pound total allowable catch of red snapper. Commercial fishing gets 51 percent of that total, the breakdown grants recreational fishermen 5.39 million pounds annually, and passing Amendment 40 is certain to reduce the nine-day season federal fisheries managers allowed recreational anglers this year.
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