Red snappers in the Gulf of Mexico once hovered on the brink of extinction, their population having dropped to 2 percent of what had historically swum in the Gulf. But thanks to a recently introduced plan that turns the conventional wisdom of fisheries management on its head, the picture has begun to change. Called Individual Fishing Quotas (IFQs), the new regulations, which give a guaranteed allotment of fish to each participant instead of applying industry-wide quotas, went into effect for Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper (Lutjanus campechanus) in early 2007. The results were immediate and so profound that the Gulf Fishery Management Council voted earlier this year to increase the annual limit on red snapper to nearly 7 million pounds from 5 million.

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