There's a naval war brewing off the coasts of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, and the next battle will be in New Orleans at the end of the month.
Recreational and commercial fishers will exchange verbal volleys at the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council meeting, with the spoils of war being greater access to a recovering Gulf red snapper stock.
For the last three decades, the annual red-snapper quota has been divvied among the two sectors nearly evenly. Commercial anglers receive 51 percent of the quota, while those on the recreational side get the remaining 49 percent.
But as red-snapper numbers have climbed in recent years, the recreational sector has begun to push for a bigger piece of the pie. The Coastal Conservation Association and other recreational-fishing groups intend to make their case when the Gulf Council meets at the Doubletree New Orleans Oct 28-31.
David Cresson, executive director of the Louisiana CCA branch, said the way the system is currently set up is patently unfair because fewer than 400 commercial red snapper anglers have access to a larger percentage of the quota than 3.2 million Gulf Region recreational anglers.
So his organization is pushing a plan to establish a benchmark, based on historical catch data. Anything under that benchmark would be divided with the current 51/49 split, but anything over would be weighted in favor of the recreational sector.
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