The American Sportfishing Association (ASA) approved of the vote by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council to approve Exempted Fishing Permits (EFPs) for each of the five Gulf states that will allow each state to manage recreational fishing for red snapper.

The EFPs, which cover the 2018 and 2019 fishing years, will allow recreationally caught red snapper to be landed within certain time periods determined by the respective states.

Red snapper landings would be monitored by the states, and the respective state seasons would close when a state's quota is caught or projected to be caught. These studies are intended to demonstrate the effectiveness of state management of recreationally caught red snapper.

While much work remains to be done, the vote is a significant step in the right direction for Gulf anglers and the businesses that depend on red snapper fishing. Development and approval of the Gulf states' EFPs was facilitated by language from Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) in the FY2017 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill that directed NOAA Fisheries to develop the fishery management pilot program allowing states to manage Gulf red snapper.

Due to the efforts of leaders in Congress such as Sen. Shelby, Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.), state management of Gulf red snapper is getting closer to reality.

With the Gulf Council's approval, NOAA is now required to publish the plans and allow for a 30-day comment period. NOAA must then ratify each plan before implementation begins.