Grijalva Highlights Job-Killing Risks of Trump’s Red Snapper Plan as Federal Register Admits it Presents a Severe Overfishing Threat

Washington, D.C. – Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) released the following statement today in response to the Trump administration proposal to extend the 2017 private boat red snapper season in federal Gulf of Mexico waters from 3 days to 42 days:

“The red snapper population in the Gulf has been recovering from years of overfishing. Our priority now has to be maintaining and continuing that recovery. Gulf Coast businesses literally cannot afford a fishery management fiat that eliminates all the progress that has been made. The public needs to see a scientific justification for this plan before it goes into effect, and I’ll be asking Chairman Bishop to join me in requesting that one be made public.”

The Magnuson-Stevens Act is designed to ensure that fisheries management in the United States is guided by scientific rather than political considerations. The new plan almost certainly runs afoul of that standard. Independent estimates show that extending the red snapper season will allow as much as 7.4 million pounds of fish to be caught beyond the level scientists recommend.

The Federal Register notice seems to admit such a risk is likely:

Both the States and the Federal government understand what is at risk with this approach. The stock is still overfished. While the stock is ahead of its rebuilding target, if employed for a short period of time, this approach may delay the ultimate rebuilding of the stock by as many as 6 years. This approach likely could not be continued through time without significantly delaying the rebuilding timeline. Similarly, the approach will necessarily mean that the private recreational sector will substantially exceed its annual catch limit, which was designed to prevent overfishing the stock.

This overfishing would have devastating consequences for the future of the fishery, the fishermen who rely on it for their livelihoods, and the restaurants and retailers who depend on sustainable red snapper catches.

The Gulf red snapper season was limited to three days in federal waters this year because of excessive harvest and lengthy state seasons that led to more than 80 percent of the private recreational red snapper quota being caught in state waters last year. That level of harvest, combined with fish caught during the federal season, significantly exceeded the 2016 quota.

The National Marine Fisheries Service has not yet released its harvest estimate for this year’s original three-day season, which was open from June 1-3.

According to press reports, it is the policy of the Trump administration to ignore Democrats and only “accommodate the requests of chairmen” in responding to congressional correspondence and requests for information. For that reason, in the interest of bipartisanship and of ensuring diligent oversight of executive branch agencies within the Committee’s jurisdiction, Grijalva will ask Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) to join him in sending an oversight request to the Department of Commerce seeking data supporting the plan’s validity.

Press Contact

Media Contact: Adam Sarvana

(202) 225-6065 or (202) 578-6626 mobile