"NEW ORLEANS — The U.S. Commerce Department says recreational anglers in the Gulf of Mexico will have 39 more days to fish federal waters for red snapper — even though this could add years to the species' recovery from nearly disastrous overfishing.
The agreement means private recreational anglers 'will substantially exceed' a catch limit designed to prevent overfishing, and 'may delay the ultimate rebuilding of the stock by as many as 6 years' past its 2032 goal, according to a notice made public Wednesday.
However, the National Marine Fisheries Service predicts that red snapper numbers will keep growing, just much more slowly, the notice said. It said Gulf states' economies are being hurt and different approaches to management are 'undermining the very integrity of the management structure,' so 'the Secretary of Commerce has determined that a more modest rebuilding pace ... is a risk worth taking.'
Gulf state officials praised the decision to reopen the federal season off Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida for three-day weekends through Labor Day, plus three holidays."