Agenda Item No. 3
Presenter:  Robin Riechers

Special Commission Meeting
Red Snapper
February 26, 2013

I.       Executive Summary:  Staff will brief the Commission regarding the recent action by the Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council (GMFMC) recommending an emergency rule to further restrict the harvest of red snapper in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) off Texas.

II.      Discussion:  The federal Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (16 U.S.C. 1801, et seq.), become law in 1996 and was reauthorized in 2006.  The Act continued the eight fishery management councils to help manage the fisheries in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).  Texas is a member of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (GMFMC), which consists of 17 voting members comprised of state fish and wildlife agency, university, commercial and recreational fishery representatives from the States of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida, and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).  These Councils are administered by NMFS, an agency within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the Department of Commerce.  Governor Perry nominates members to the Council as do the Governors from the other Gulf States.  In addition to the state fish and wildlife agency representation, each state has at least one other representative.

For several years, the red snapper recreational regulations in Texas state waters (set by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission) have been different than the federal regulations in the EEZ.  Although some at NMFS and members of the public have raised concerns about this inconsistency, Texas has simply operated with one standard in Texas Territorial Sea (TTS) (4 fish daily bag limit, 15 inch minimum size limit, open year around) and another in the EEZ (2 fish bag limit, 16 inch minimum size limit).

On Friday February 8, 2013, at a meeting of the GMFMC, a motion was narrowly passed to initiate an emergency rulemaking that would essentially allow a significant reduction in red snapper harvest in the EEZ in those states that have not adopted regulations consistent with the federal regulations.  These federal regulations, if adopted, would have a significant impact on Texas, as well as Louisiana.

TPWD staff will brief the Commission on this matter in public session.  In addition, the Commission will hold an executive (closed) session as authorized by the Open Meetings Act (Tex. Gov’t Code §551.071) to consult with attorneys from TPWD and the Office of the Attorney General.