Senator Shelby Leads the Way for Better Gulf Red Snapper Data

Funding directed toward conducting a census of the Gulf red snapper population

March 14, 2017 – Alexandria, Va. – Due to an effort by Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will provide a competitive grant toward innovative Gulf of Mexico reef fish survey assessments and technologies. The American Sportfishing Association (ASA) today praised this new program, which it believes will result in a more accurate estimate of the Gulf red snapper and lead to improved fishing access. This $9.5 million grant program was authored by Senator Shelby and directed by the Congress in the 2016 Appropriations Act.

“The sportfishing industry applauds Senator Shelby for creating this program and listening to the thousands of anglers and recreational fishing-dependent businesses who see historic numbers of red snapper resources at the same time the government is cutting back on fishing days,” said Scott Gudes, ASA’s vice president of Government Affairs. “NOAA will be funding external proposals by fishermen, educational institutions and others outside the National Marine Fisheries Service to survey red snapper and other reef fish in areas like oil rigs and reefs where the current government surveys just aren’t looking.”

Gulf red snapper populations are at historic levels. Yet, access for recreational fishermen continues to be held at historically low levels, with the season in 2016 set at just nine days. Many in the recreational fishing community believe that NOAA’s assessment of the population underestimates the true abundance of Gulf red snapper.

Gudes concluded, “We hope these fully-independent surveys and new technology will lead to a new assessment and allocations that better align with the actual abundance of red snapper and its economic impact.”