Conservation group, recreational fishermen challenge government on snapper catch limit

By The Louisiana Record | Apr 30, 2015


A conservation group and three fishermen have sued, seeking a judge's help in setting a limit on how much red snapper can be caught in the Gulf of Mexico.

Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) of Houston, Charles A. Caplinger IV, Adam Giollory and George A. Huye filed a lawsuit April 22 in U.S, District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, against U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny S. Pritzker and Eileen Sobeck, assistant administrator for fisheries at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

According to the complaint, the defendants are in violation of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act and the Administrative Procedure Act. The suit says changes to current practices will "reduce the maximum quantity of red snapper
individual recreational fishermen can catch from up to 100 percent of the quota for the recreational sector to 57 percent of the recreational quota, a reduction of more than 2 million pounds of red snapper each year from 2015 through 2017.

The plaintiffs say "the establishment of unauthorized quotas for charter boats/head boats and for private anglers," as well as "unfair and inequitable allocation," is an "arbitrary and capricious .. abuse of discretion." They also allege there was failure of the "Gulf Council to perform required analysis and provide [the] secretary required data on [the] fishery management plan amendment and proposed regulation implementing fishery management plan amendment."

The plaintiffs ask the court to throw out the amendment and 2015-17 rule, as well as to have defendants remit the plaintiff's legal fees via the Equal Access to Justice Act.

They are are represented by attorneys A. Kirk Gasperecz and James T. Rogers II of Adams and Reese in New Orleans, and Mark Rutzick of Oak Hill, Virginia.

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana case number: 2:15-cv-01300

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