ORANGE BEACH, Ala. (WALA) - The news that federal regulations have shortened the red snapper fishing season from more than 100 days to an all-time low of 27 has prompted outrage from many Gulf Coast fishermen who say the change could sink their business.
Orange Beach charter Captain Troy Frady said despite the fact that many fishermen disagree with federal reports regarding the recovery of red snapper population, he's remaining cautious.
He said years of over-fishing in the Gulf, plus hurricanes and the BP Oil Spill have him concerned for the long term.
"I'd rather be more conservative than running out there and opening the flood gates. If you see fish on the top of the water, you think, let's go catch those fish," said Frady. "But the underlying thoughts are these fish are eight years old or younger and they're just having a chance to grow up and populate reefs. There has to be a balance."
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley recently endorsed Congressman Jo Bonner's proposed Gulf Fisheries Fairness Act, which would give states control over fishing limits up to nine miles offshore.
Frady agrees and said states should set up a management plan to account for how many red snapper are being fished.
"There are a lot of people that disagree with the science and say we have bad data. What we really have as a problem is an accountable fishery. We don't really know how many people are out there fishing for red snapper. We know people are out there deep sea fishing. Wouldn't it be cool if we knew who was targeting red snapper?" Frady said.
He says despite the shortened season, he believes the fishing industry is actually on the upswing, and he thinks Bonner's bill will only improve that.
"I think we'll continue to see a fishery that gets better. We'll probably see fewer days, but if we can get out there and see who all's fishing for red snapper, we may find out there's not as many people targeting them as we thought," said Frady.
Frady said he has already adjusted his business less towards harvesting fish and more towards providing a recreational fishing service.
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