States challenging emergency rule for red snapper fishing season - Brownsville Herald: Local News

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States challenging emergency rule for red snapper fishing season

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Posted: Tuesday, April 23, 2013 9:55 pm

Texas and Louisiana filed a civil lawsuit in federal court in Brownsville on Monday, challenging a federal emergency rule that without notice or hearing shortens or could do away with the 2013 recreational red snapper fishing season.

The season starts June 1 in federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico.

According to the lawsuit, the emergency rule would make the 2013 season extremely short, setting it at 12 days for Texas and nine days for Louisiana.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, names several federal agencies as defendants; National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and Office of Sustainable Fisheries, U.S. Department of Commerce, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Numerous agency directors also are named as defendants.

The states say in court documents that without the court’s intervention, the “season — if there is one — will come and go without review … leaving the Gulf states, recreational fishermen, and hundreds of men and women whose livelihood depend on reasonable access to red snapper stocks with no opportunity for redress.”

The states allege that the emergency rule announced March 25 occurs not for scientific reasons, but because Louisiana and Florida were considering joining Texas in setting a red snapper fishing season different from the NMFS’ season.

The states say that they filed the lawsuit on behalf of and at the request of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission and Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries respectively.

“It is unacceptable that the federal government would abuse its power and claim an emergency exists simply to punish states like Texas and Louisiana because they have rules governing red snapper fishing in state waters that federal officials disagree with,” Attorney General Greg Abbott said in a written statement issued Tuesday.

“The federal government’s actions amount to a blatant attempt to force Texas and Louisiana to surrender their own regulatory authority and conform to federal regulations,” Abbott added.

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