Friday, November 24, 2017
News Roundup

2 groups sue feds for extending anglers' red snapper season

RECOMMENDED READING


NEW ORLEANS — Two environmental groups are suing the Trump administration for stretching the red snapper season in the Gulf of Mexico.

The federal government said the economic benefit from allowing weekend fishing this summer by recreational anglers in federal waters outweighs the harm to the red snapper species, which is still recovering from disastrous overfishing.

Gulf state officials had lobbied for and praised the change, but the lawsuit says the decision violated several laws by ignoring scientific assessments, promoting overfishing, and failing to follow required procedures. It was filed Monday for the Ocean Conservancy and the Environmental Defense Fund.

The prized sport and table fish has rebounded under fishing limits and procedures set by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, but is only part way to its goal, Chris Dorsett of the conservancy and Robert Jones of the Environmental Defense Fund told the Associated Press. The lawsuit isn't trying to cancel the current season but seeks to prevent similar decisions in the future.

"What we want to do, first and foremost, is to make sure we keep red snapper rebuilding on track," Dorsett said.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and two department agencies: the National Marine Fisheries Service and its parent agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, are the defendants.

In June, more than a week after a three-day recreational season had expired, the Commerce Department gave anglers 39 more days to fish federal waters for red snapper if states agreed to match those dates.

"One of the driving forces behind the lawsuit was to keep this from happening again, both in the Gulf of Mexico and around the country. The rule rides roughshod over some of the most basic commonsense requirements" of the law governing U.S. fisheries management, said Andrea Treece, attorney for Earthjustice, which represents the Ocean Conservancy.

Among other things, the lawsuit said, the season was extended without adequate notice or time for public comment.

The federal notice stated that reopening federal waters off Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida for three-day weekends through Labor Day, plus three holidays, could put the goal date for rebuilding the species back from 2032 to 2038. But it said it's worth it because Gulf states' economies were being hurt by the short season for anglers in private boats and because different management approaches were undermining management.

The original three-day anglers' season, which started June 1, had been set because anglers overfished their quota last year. They have regularly done so and each year's overage is subtracted from the following year's quota, resulting in shorter and shorter seasons.

They were allocated nearly 60 percent of this year's 5.4-million-pound recreational quota, with the rest going to federally licensed charter boat captains, who were assigned a 49-day season starting June 1.

Louisiana has said it will close its state season when its anglers pull in about 1.04 million pounds of red snapper: 15 percent of the total recreational take allowed in the Gulf of Mexico this year. The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries said Thursday that anglers are catching about 66,000 pounds a week — less than expected earlier, and a rate that could let the season extend through Sept. 4. However, its notice said, the rate is likely to rise.

Jones praised Louisiana's system for monitoring the red snapper recreational catch through surveys done at dockside and by email and phone.

He said states also should require electronic reports from anglers to keep tallies as fish are caught. The federal government gets such reports from commercial boats, each of which must stop fishing when it reaches its own quota.

"I think we need to find a way to get away from fixed seasons," he said. For example, he said, Texas tends to have bad weather and high winds in early June, so a June 1 start doesn't work there.

If anglers report all of their catch electronically, he said, that might provide enough data to let them choose the days they want to fish.

"We need to get a way to get more flexible," Jones said.

Comments

Woman, 51, robbed in Tyrone Square Mall parking lot, police say

ST. PETERSBURG — A woman was robbed after a man followed her to her car in a mall parking lot Thursday night and fired one shot at her, police said. The 51-year-old woman, whose identity St. Petersburg Police are withholding, was not injured. She was...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Safety Harbor family, under attack from its pit bull, stabs the dog to death

SAFETY HARBOR — A family had to stab one of its pit bulls to death Friday after it got loose and started to attack its owners, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.Now a 45-year-old mother and her 14-year-old and 22-year-old daughters ar...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Take steps against holiday fraud with private WiFi, fraud alerts

Take steps against holiday fraud with private WiFi, fraud alerts

The holiday shopping season bring hosts of discounts and deals, but it also brings something less cheery — fraud. According to a forecast by ACI Worldwide, a payment processing company, retailers are expected to see a 30 percent jump in fraud this ye...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Updated: 1 hour ago
Florida’s iconic offshore Stiltsville survived another hurricane season

Florida’s iconic offshore Stiltsville survived another hurricane season

MIAMI — Stiltsville, a stubborn relic of Miami’s less-glitzy past as a sun-soaked outpost, has survived Hurricane Irma’s brutal winds and waves, much to the surprise of the landmark’s caretakers and fans. Perched at the edge of sea grass flats where ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Florida-Florida State: What’s really riding on Saturday’s game

Florida-Florida State: What’s really riding on Saturday’s game

GAINESVILLE — If misery loves company, at least the Gators and Seminoles have each other.That’s about the only positive in the least appealing Florida-Florida State showdown in decades. Both enter Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at 4-6 — the first time each...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Newly engaged couple among three killed in wrong-way crash on I-75

Newly engaged couple among three killed in wrong-way crash on I-75

GIBSONTON — Last month, LaShay Waiters got down on one knee and proposed to Yvette Alexandre in front of a room packed with family and friends. She said yes.About two weeks ago, it was Alexandre’s turn to surprise him: She was pregnant. It wasn’t pla...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Freshman quarterback leads Pitt to 24-14 upset over No. 2 Miami

Freshman quarterback leads Pitt to 24-14 upset over No. 2 Miami

PITTSBURGH — Miami’s perfect season is over. The Hurricanes can only hope their shot at a spot in the College Football Playoff isn’t gone too. Freshman quarterback Kenny Pickett ran for two touchdowns and threw for another as Pittsburgh stunned the s...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Hillsborough Democrats have everything going for them except history

Hillsborough Democrats have everything going for them except history

TAMPA — For 15 years, Republicans have held a majority of seats on the Hillsborough County Commission.It’s the longest stretch one party has controlled the board since a corruption scandal expanded the body to seven members in 1985.But all five Repub...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Cannon Fodder podcast: Eye on Julio Jones, new stadium

Cannon Fodder podcast: Eye on Julio Jones, new stadium

Times Bucs writer Greg Auman is back for one more Bucs-Falcons preview podcast, looking at Julio Jones’ rank among the all-time Bucs’ opponents, the new stadium in Atlanta, our story on game balls and much more. Listen below: ...
Updated: 3 hours ago