WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., today sharply criticized a rule proposed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on the annual catch limits for red snapper that could cut Mississippi’s red snapper season by 60 percent next year.
“NOAA’s proposed rule on red snapper represents a gross failure by the agency to improve the quality of data it uses to manage federal fisheries. Mississippi’s recreational anglers are tired of seeing their seasons cut short unnecessarily based on faulty data. The Tails n’ Scales program run by Mississippi produces far more accurate data that should be used. I will keep fighting for the Department of Commerce to develop a higher quality data collection process for recreational fishing,” Wicker said. “I urge all interested Mississippians to submit comments regarding this proposed NOAA rule.”
NOAA’s proposed rule is intended to prevent overfishing by modifying each state’s annual catch limits (ACLs) for red snapper. The new formula would require calibrating Mississippi’s high quality ‘Tails n’ Scales’ data, which records accurate information for more than 95% of Mississippi’s annual recreational red snapper catch, to the low-quality Federal Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) data. If enacted, this rule would reduce Mississippi’s red snapper quota by 60 percent in 2023, meaning private anglers could reach their yearly quota in as little as three weeks.
The proposed approach is based on outdated data from 2017 and 2018, despite Congress appropriating $2 million to NOAA to investigate and improve calibration methods.Members of the public who wish to express concern about NOAA’s proposed ruling may find information on how to submit a public comment to the Department of Commerce here. The agency will be accepting public opinions on this issue for the next 30 days.