Red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico may actually be rebuilt in our lifetimes. Fishery Managers voted in New Orleans Thursday to accept fishing restrictions and rebuild these sadly depleted fish.
For 6 years, I've been assisting conservationists in the Gulf of Mexico region who were trying to make this happen. Some days were bleaker than others as managers denied the need, and delayed and deferred the actions. But managers finally got serious about rebuilding red snapper this week. If we can win rebuilding for red snapper, then anything is possible. This was a good lead-in to World Ocean Day, and I'm sorry the Carnival kept me too busy to report this on Thursday or Friday.
Success required a lawsuit that we won, and new legislation that toughened laws against overfishing, along with a new IFQ program that reduced the size of the commercial fleet and gave remaining fishermen a clear stake in a better future, so that some commercial fishermen actually supported a 45% reduction in fishing rates. Things have changed so much that the Management Council actually voted UNANIMOUSLY to implement this red snapper rebuilding plan. It's a new day in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Gulf of Mexico shrimp fleet had to take some restrictions also, including a 74% reduction in bycatch from recent levels. I think we'll soon start seeing more red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico...lots more.