The National Restaurant Association has asked the governors in five Gulf States to support local restaurants in maintaining year-round access to seafood fished in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
In a letter sent June 24 to governors Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Rick Scott of Florida, Robert Bentley of Alabama, Mississippi’s Phil Bryant and Rick Perry of Texas, the NRA asked the leaders to “stand with us and support the commercial fishing sector that supplies restaurants in your state[s] and throughout the country.”
Scott DeFife, the NRA’s executive vice president of policy and government affairs, said recent proposals by the Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Council could imperil access to Gulf red snapper. That’s causing concern among restaurateurs in the affected states, he said.
“In recent months, the Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Council has proposed changing the red snapper allocation in the Gulf to reduce the share that currently goes to commercial fisherman.… We strongly oppose these efforts.
“If successful, these proposed changes could seriously harm the commercial fishing industry and the ability of restaurants to source red snapper from the Gulf. Ultimately these changes could result in shortages and lead to significant price hikes or an inability to fulfill our customers’ desires for locally caught seafood.”
The NRA supports existing “catch share” allocations for red snapper in the Gulf, DeFife wrote.
“We are committed to helping ensure that this seafood is not only fished sustainably so its population continues to grow, but that the voices of small businesses here, their employees and customers, also are heard,” he said.
In April, the NRA and its Gulf State partners joined Share the Gulf, a coalition of chefs, restaurateurs, restaurant associations, seafood suppliers, fishermen, consumers and conservationists, seeking to protect their access to fish in the Gulf States. The initiative, launched in 2013, aims to ensure the region’s restaurants and grocery businesses maintain an equitable share of the Gulf States’ red snapper catch.