Press release: Congressman David Jolly (FL-13) has introduced legislation that will lead to a more accurate count of Red Snapper and other reef fish in the Gulf of Mexico. The bill, called the Gulf Red Snapper Data Improvement Act, will allow for third-party data collection of fish populations to be used for federal stock assessments, which could ultimately lead to longer Red Snapper fishing seasons for the recreational sectors.
“Many in the fishing community, from private anglers, to charter, to commercial, have questioned the government’s stock assessments. My bill will give each of them a seat at the table. Third-party data collection will expand the information available to the government, particularly Red Snapper, and improve the data used to determine fishing seasons,” Jolly said.
The Gulf Red Snapper Data Improvement Act designates $10 million annually for third-party data collection of Gulf Red Snapper and other Gulf reef species. The data collection program will be managed by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Southeast Regional Office located in St. Petersburg, Florida.
“This will improve our knowledge of fisheries stocks and if the research shows a larger fish population than the government suggests, this will open the door for a longer fishing season for species like Red Snapper. And a longer Snapper season is an economic and quality of life win throughout our community, positively impacting everyone from local scientists committed to the protection of fish populations, to recreational anglers, to charter operators, to businesses that depend on fishing tourism like hotel and restaurant operators,” Jolly noted.
A member of the powerful House Committee on Appropriations, Jolly was able to secure similar language in the Fiscal Year 2016 House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Bill earlier this year.