The controversy surrounding the red snapper continues.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) proposed a 44-day recreational red snapper season for Gulf of Mexico state waters at its meeting Feb. 13 in Orlando.
"All they've done is add to the drama," said Destin Capt. Mike Eller. "It's just a mess."
The season FWC is proposing would start June 1 and end July 14. However, the proposed season is inconsistent with the current proposed federal season, which is slated to be just 27 days.
The Commission will make a final decision on this season at the April Commission meeting in Tallahassee, according to a news release from the FWC.
"We hope it was a knee jerk reaction and made out of frustration," Eller said.
He said, it sounds like they are trying to send a "message of disgust" as to the way the National Marine Fisheries has handled the red snapper fishery.
For years, Texas has bucked the system, and has gone non-compliant in state waters for red snapper. However at last week’s Gulf Council Meeting in Mobile, National Marine Fisheries was given the authority to cut days in federal waters for those states that don't mirror the federal dates for red snapper.
"The system is so broken," Eller said.
"I don't blame them, but I can't support them," Eller said.
Charter boats could be the big loser in any fight between the state and feds because captains have to abide by federal laws no matter where they catch the fish, and if red snapper is closed in federal waters, then boats that hold a federal permit can't land one in state waters, even if the state decides to go non-compliance with the federal.
"It hurts everybody who wants to fish offshore for red snapper. The temptation to catch red snapper beyond nine miles is great," he said.
If the state decides to go non-compliant with the federal guidelines for red snapper, "it's just creating an environment for people to break the law," Eller said.
Not everyone agreed with Eller's assessment. Rep. Steve Southerland, who represents parts of Northwest Florida, applauded the decision.
“As the federal red snapper season has progressively gotten shorter, more and more Florida fishermen are being forced off the water,” Southerland said. “By putting our fishermen first, Florida’s FWC has joined other Gulf states, including Texas and Louisiana, in telling Washington we’ve had enough. Until the Beltway bureaucrats begin to understand the challenges facing our coastal communities, I will continue to support Florida’s effort to stand tall on the Teneth Amendment and fight back against an administration that’s out of touch with the needs of our fishermen.”