AUSTIN — Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, along with the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office, has filed a legal challenge asking a federal district court to block a proposed federal rule that would punish Texas and Louisiana by shortening the red snapper recreational fishing season in federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico off the states’ coasts.
“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 Abbott said. “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. Texas will not acquiesce.”
The states’ lawsuit explains that the federal National Marine Fisheries Service is attempting to improperly use its emergency rulemaking authority to single out Texas and Louisiana based solely on the fact that the states’ rules for fishing in state waters do not mirror the rules for the federal season. According to the states’ legal filing, the emergency rule is not based on scientific justification, but is rather an attempt to impose the federal government’s will on states when federal bureaucrats disagree with state regulations. The states ask the court to review the matter expeditiously and move swiftly to block enforcement of the rule before the federal fishing season begins June 1.
Before the enactment of the so-called “emergency” rule, Texas’ 2013 federal recreational red snapper fishing season was estimated to be between 27 and 22 days, but the emergency rule would reduce it to only 12 days, or even zero days. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department – the state agency with primary responsibility for protecting Texas’ fish and wildlife resources – predicts that the economic impact of this proposed emergency federal rule could amount to a loss of as much as $1 million per day for each day that the federal red snapper fishing season is shortened.
The Texas Attorney General’s Office filed this legal challenge on behalf of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The federal agencies named in the lawsuit are the United States Department of Commerce, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Marine Fisheries Service.