The Debate between Federal and State Agencies on Recreational Red Snapper Fisheries Management in the Gulf of Mexico
Type of DegreeMaster's Thesis
Fisheries and Allied Aquacultures
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Red snapper is a pelagic species and one of the most popular recreational species in the GOM (Gulf of Mexico). The population of red snapper in the GOM has been in an overfished condition since 1988. In recent years, the federal government has been decreasing the number of open season days as well as bag limits to promote conservation. The recreational red snapper season in federal waters of the GOM was only 9 days in 2014 compared to 46 days in 2013, which led the Alabama state government to argue that the federal government underestimated stock population. Alabama favored a longer season to promote economic growth. Thus there is a controversy in the management of red snapper in the GOM, with government agencies using different approaches to achieve different goals. For this study, secondary data from papers, documents and government policies is analyzed to provide background information on recreational red snapper management and to describe the management systems used in the GOM. In addition, through conducting interviews with federal and state agency administrators and scientists whose research is related to red snapper, the current debate between federal and state levels can be placed into three areas: allocation of annual red snapper harvest pounds among commercial recreation boats and individual recreational anglers, recreational limit measures (total length, bag limit, season length) and state water boundary (3 or 9 miles). Policy recommendations are made for federal and state agencies for future recreational red snapper management.