This amendment established a red snapper federal for-hire component that includes all for-hire operators with a valid or renewable federal reef fish for-hire permit, and a private angling component that includes all other for-hire operators and private recreational anglers. It also allocated the recreational red snapper quota and ACT based on 50% of the average percentages landed by each component between 1986 and 2013 (2010 excluded) and 50% of the average percentages landed by each component between 2006 and 2013 (2010 excluded). Finally, Amendment 40 established separate red snapper season closure provisions for the federal for-hire and private angling components.
Amendment 40 provides one portion of the catch limit for private anglers who own their own boats and another for charter captains. It is an important first step towards solving the downward spiral of management failure that has frustrated fishermen across the Gulf in recent years. That downward spiral almost resulted in a complete shut-out of charter customers from this fishery. Had the Council declined to take action, fishermen who access red snapper from federally permitted charter boats would have been limited to a 2015 season that is even shorter than the meager nine days afforded in 2014. That would have been unacceptable. The Charter Fisherman’s Association supports Amendment 40 because it not only solves short-term problems, but also provides an opportunity to explore new management choices for all recreational fishermen, including those who fish on charter for-hire and private boats.