PANAMA CITY BEACH — After 13 years on the federal overfishing list, red snapper has been removed after a report showed the species has made a comeback in the Gulf of Mexico.
Released Monday, the report provides a snapshot of U.S. fisheries stocks in 2012. Results showed a 59 percent increase in the red snapper quota since 2009.
However, red snapper remain on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s overfished list, which is different from the overfishing list.
“The critical list that it’s still on is the overfished designation,” said local charter captain Bob Zales. “Many of us believe we’re past that and this fishery is not overfished anymore.”
According to NOAA, an “overfishing” stock is a product of overfishing for many years and has a harvest rate that is too high to produce its maximum sustainable yield.
“Overfished” species have a biomass level depleted to a degree that the stock’s capacity to produce the maximum sustainable yield is jeopardized. Overfished species like red snapper are subject to fishery management and rebuilding plans.
A separate report was released Monday by Ocean Conservancy and Pew Charitable Trusts, outlining the success of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the law governing fishery management in the U.S.
The Ocean Conservancy/Pew report was released in conjunction with a fisheries summit taking place this week in Washington, D.C.
Zales described the report as “propaganda.”
The three-day summit will set the stage for what could result in fundamental changes to the Magnuson-Stevens Act, with federal management agencies pushing Congress to reauthorize the act.
Zales said the last reauthorization of the act in 2007 was far too restrictive and not based on sound science.
“It’s hard for us to counter the propaganda that comes out,” said Zales, who has been charter fishing in Panama City for 48 years. “You’re getting two completely different stories. … One of them is reality and one is where the environmentalists want to take it. That’s a significant problem for most of us on the water.”
Elizabeth Fetherston, deputy director of Ocean Conservancy’s Fish Conservation Program, said a recent announcement from NOAA Fisheries titled “Status of Stocks 2012” also points to record rebuilding, which is a win for fish and fishermen.
“[The] report is great news and further proof that the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) is working to restore our fisheries,” Fetherston said. “It means a healthier ocean, more fresh and local seafood, greater recreational opportunities, and a bright and prosperous future for our nation’s coastal communities.”
According to an economic report by NOAA, U.S. saltwater fishing generated more than $199 billion in sales and supported 1.7 million jobs in 2011.
CORRECTION: The initial story incorrectly referenced a quote from Elizabeth Fetherston, deputy director of Ocean Conservancy’s Fish Conservation Program, as a response to a report released Monday by the Ocean Conservancy and the Pew Charitable Trusts that that provided a snapshot of U.S. fisheries stocks in 2012 in relation to management practices under the Magnuson-Stevens Act.
Fetherston’s quotation: “Today’s report is great news and further proof that the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) is working to restore our fisheries,” was in response to an announcement from NOAA Fisheries titled “Status of Stocks 2012”, a statement on the status of U.S. fisheries showing record rebuilding.