Overfished for years to the point of collapse, red snapper may be on the rebound in the Gulf of Mexico. The most recent scientific survey shows the iconic Gulf fish's numbers finally starting to improve, though it is still being overfished. The Times Picayunereports Sunday that regulators are cautiously optimistic regarding the recent counts but may soon be inclined to raise the strict fishing quotas placed on red snapper. From the TP:
"We've been trying to end the overfishing of red snapper for over 20 years, and this is the first time we've been able to do it," said Roy Crabtree, the southeast regional administrator for the National Marine Fisheries Service. "I think a lot of fishermen have endured a lot of pain over the last few years, so hopefully things start to change for the better."
The Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council, a regional advisory body that sets federal fishing regulations in the Gulf, could decide as soon as February to relax the current red snapper quota of 5 million pounds up to 6.9 million pounds, and possibly more in subsequent years. The 5 million pound target, which went into effect in 2008, is among the lowest ever catch limits for Gulf snapper.
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