Over the years, I, like many of you, have become frustrated with the state of fisheries management in our region. What’s especially frustrating is the lack of investment in more timely and accurate ways to collect the information we need to ensure that we keep fish populations and coastal businesses thriving. Millions of people in this area rely directly or indirectly on our fishery resources to support our families. Each management decision made by federal and state resource managers affects us financially. As it stands, sometimes those decisions must be made without sufficient, quality information.

Thankfully, there is now a solution, or at least a step forward in the right direction, before Congress. If passed, Congressman David Jolly’s (R-St. Petersburg) latest legislation, the Gulf Red Snapper Data Improvement Act (H.R. 3521), would allocate an additional $10 million annually for the collection and contribution of fishery data by recreational and charter/for-hire fishermen. Such an investment would significantly contribute to more timely and accurate federal stock assessments of reef fishes, including the Gulf’s iconic red snapper and red grouper.

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