Republican Congressman David Jolly of St. Petersburg recently introduced legislation that would hire fishermen to collect red snapper data in the Gulf of Mexico. Fishermen have complained about federal limits on catching red snapper. Jolly said this may give fishermen more days on the water, if it shows the population is healthier than federal research suggests. But some say it could actually mean less days on the water.
The Gulf Red Snapper Improvement Act would secure $10 million in the upcoming budget to contract recreational, for-hire and commercial fisherman. Congressman David Jolly said their data collection could improve the quality of life for Gulf fishermen.
"What we hope is the improved data ultimately allows to increase the number of days for rec and to strengthen the number of fish stock available for our commercial and for-hire," said Jolly.
William Ward is with the Gulf Fishermen’s Association. He said the legislation would bring more accurate information about the Gulf’s red snapper population. But Ward said fishermen should not come to any conclusions about the data yet.
"When you get to the bottom of what the better understanding of the status of these stocks are, then and only then can you decide whether or not people get more fish-- maybe less fish, by the way. Let's not forget that," said Ward.
Congressman Jolly said he expects this year’s bill to pass in about a month. And he’s pushing to make this program an annual part of the budget.