Overfishing has reduced red snapper populations to less than 3 percent of their historic levels. This is a serious threat to the long-term health of the Gulf of Mexico. It's bad for the marine ecosystem, fishermen, and the coastal economies that depend on sustainable fishing.
The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council has repeatedly delayed taking action. This is part of a pattern of mismanagement that has gone on for over a decade, and has resulted in the depletion of red snapper. The Council has once again ignored the advice of its scientists and public testimony supporting improved stewardship.
President Bush's Commission on Ocean Policy recently identified overfishing as one of the greatest threats to our oceans and stressed that we must end this destructive practice in order to have healthy oceans for the future.
Overfishing must be ended. Where the Gulf Fisheries Council has failed the Dept. of Commerce must act. Urge the Secretary of Commerce to act now to stop the chronic overfishing of severely depleted red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico before the start of the fishing season in 2007.
I am writing to urge you to take immediate action through an interim rule to end the overfishing of the severely depleted red snapper population in the Gulf of Mexico. Red snapper are at only three percent of their historic levels. You must act now so that conservation measures are in place to end overfishing before January, when the next fishing season begins.
[your comment here]
For the ninth year in a row, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council has been unwilling to take the actions necessary to sustainably manage red snapper. Red snapper in the Gulf cannot wait any longer; you must act now.
The Dept. of Commerce must step in and: (1) lower the red snapper catch level to 5.3 million pounds; (2) reduce the incidental capture and killing, or "bycatch" of red snapper by the shrimp fishery by capping fishing effort in areas where young red snapper live; and (3) lower the level of bycatch of undersized red snapper caused by commercial and recreational fishermen by lowering size limits.
Severely depleted red snapper populations are bad for the Gulf ecosystem and bad for fishing communities reliant on sustainable fishing that healthy stocks can provide. The Gulf Council has failed to uphold its legal and stewardship responsibilities for the last eight years. Please uphold your duty as the ultimate steward of our ocean resources by taking action today to end the overfishing of red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico before it is too late.
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