Americans sometimes grow cynical about their ability to make a difference in the government.

We enjoy the most political freedom in the world, actually choosing our leaders and weighing in on changes to the law.

You have a chance to do just that. On Monday, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council will meet in Baton Rouge. The meeting, which begins at 6 p.m. at Embassy Suites, 4914 Constitution Ave., will focus on federal rules regulating the fishing of red snapper.

The fish has been the focal point of a contentious discussion over how it should be regulated. Some say the federal government has to oversee its regulation to make sure red snapper numbers don’t once again decline. Others, though, say states such as Louisiana are in a much better position to regulate the fishing that’s done off their shores.

However you think the issue should be settled, Monday is your chance to have your say – and to have it be heard.

“Recreational offshore anglers and charter captains have a vested interest in the Gulf Council’s decision,” the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission said. “We encourage you to participate in the amendment’s development — it is important that the Gulf Council hears and considers your preferences.”

In a state and a region where so many people are so deeply invested in our natural resources – such as red snapper and other fish – we should take as active a role as possible in determining how those resources will be protected.

At issue is how much authority individual states will have in setting fishing season dates, a key part of making sure the species isn’t overfished as it once was.

But for the people who fish, the question is what the best approach is to protecting the fish and who is best able to do so.

Public hearings such as this one are crucial for the people tackling these serious issues. They should learn everything they can from the people who know the topic firsthand. And that group includes the many local folks who fish for red snapper recreationally or as charter captains. They have the most to gain or lose with the fish’s continued recovery. And they can add priceless input into this big decision.

Take this chance to share what you know. Go to gulfcouncil.org for more information about Monday’s meeting.

 

Editorials represent the opinion of the newspaper, not of any individual.