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Sportsmen's Bill, Red Snapper Amendments Die in U.S. Senate

The U.S. Senate killed a Sportsmen's Bill that included amendments designed to give Louisiana officials more control over the state's red snapper season in federal waters. According to Politico, North Carolina Senator Kay Hagan's bill failed on a 56-41 procedural vote. Sixty "yay" votes would have been required to keep debate going.


The bill, which sought to toughen hunting and fishing protections in federal waters, died after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid blocked amendments as part of a long-running proxy war on gun control between the Democrats and Republicans.


On Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Tom Wicker (R-Miss.) added an amendment designed to address a proxy war of their own over the federally-mandated recreational red snapper fishing season.


For recreational red snapper fishing, the federal government has jurisdiction over any waters located three nautical miles beyond the coast. Fishers from Louisiana and other Gulf Coast states have been reeling over the federal regulators decision to cut red snapper season to nine days in each of the last two years.


The measure filed by Landrieu and Wicker sought to let the states decide on the length of red snapper season by shifting the management of red snapper stocks from the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council to the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission. The Commission is comprised largely of state stakeholders. Still, under Landrieu and Wicker's measure, any season they set would still be subject to approval and enforcement actions through the Secretary of Commerce. The amendment also includes a provision that locks in existing catch quotas for commercial fishers for three years.


Landrieu and Wicker's proposal was filed earlier this year a standalone bill, but there was no immediate word on whether it would revert.


U.S. Sen. David Vitter also filed an amendment to give control of red snapper management to the states. The junior Louisiana Senator's proposal, which also effectively died with the rest of the Sportsmen's Bill, would have given the power to regulate red snapper stocks to the state's five governors.


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