The red snapper is arguably the most valuable fish species in the Gulf of Mexico. So valuable, in fact, that U.S. fishery officials, fearing a depletion of red snapper stocks have severely curtailed seasons and limits for the past several years. Generally, Gulf anglers and charterboat captains supported the snapper management plan until, that is, they began catching snapper–lots and lots of snapper.
Many began to question the science used to support the ban and the crescendo of protest has grown to a roar. A recently released undercover video is about to add fuel to that fire.
The federal “idle iron” policy mandates the removal of obsolete oil and gas rigs in the Gulf–rigs that provide precious habitat for all forms of marine life and especially red snapper. More than 200 platforms are scheduled to be taken down this year, with 116 slated for disposal. The definition of “disposal” apparently involves blowing them up and killing thousands of red snapper in the process.
In this video shown by Alabama Local 15 News, an estimated 10,000 pounds of fish, mostly red snapper were killed.
“That’s a year’s salary for a lot of people that’s going to waste,” says charterboat skipper Jason Domange.
Further, in Louisiana, fish and wildlife officials made a statement that will be heard loud and clear throughout the Gulf region by thumbing their nose at federal mandates on red snapper. It approved opening snapper season on March 23, months ahead of the June 1 opener in federal waters and increased the state limit to 3 fish rather than the federal limit of 2.
“Yet again the Gulf Council refuses to work with Louisiana toward a more flexible management of our recreational fishery,” said Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. “We have said time and again there is no ‘one-size-fits-all” approach that will work for the entire Gulf Coast when it comes to recreational fishing, which is why we proposed state-by-state or regional management.”