As a member organization of the recently created Share the Gulf coalition, the Louisiana Restaurant Association is advocating for maintaining the current allocation of red snapper (51 percent commercial and 49 percent recreational) for current and any future increase in total catch allowed. We invite you to visit the Share the Gulf coalition website to learn more.
The Louisiana restaurant industry depends on fair and sustainably managed fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico. This means equal consideration for restaurant and consumers as well as recreational fishermen. We recognize that recreational anglers currently face harsh rules on some favorites like red snapper, grouper and others. At the same time, fishermen, seafood providers, restaurant owners and chefs with Share the Gulf are asking: How does taking fish from consumers help solve the problems facing anglers?
The current red snapper catches have seen a 70 percent increase in the total catch allowed in just the past five years. Commercial fishermen, seafood businesses and the consumer are reaping benefits because the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council has considered stock assessments, NOAA data and public input in executing a management plan that has helped promote fish population recovery.
Unfortunately, angling seasons continue to shrink, regardless of the increased total catch, because the underlying recreational management plan remains broken. Anglers are understandably angry, but assigning them more fish (reallocation) won’t help. Instead, it hurts more people and our industry’s access to the highly desirable fish our restaurants love to offer their guests.
Many of us enjoy recreational fishing with our families and friends, and we want our families to experience catching their own dinner. We also know that many of our guests enjoy recreational fishing.
In our view, we should encourage an engaged discussion including recreational fishing, harvesting, distributors and restaurant interests. Let’s talk about what everyone’s goals are and how we can achieve them together. Let’s stand up together and ask the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council to focus their attention on recreational management plans that will actually extend seasons over the long-term, improve data collection and reporting and enhance sustainability.
The commercial management through the Gulf Council is working. We hope that similar success can lead to addressing the concerns and fishery management challenges for recreational interests as well.