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Three-Day Season Set for Gulf Red Snapper in Federal Waters

Season begins June 1 for recreational anglers

May 3, 2017
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red snapper in Gulf of Mexico
The federal red snapper season in the Gulf of Mexico was set for just three days for recreational anglers fishing from privately owned boats. John Frazier

Anglers fishing from their own boats will have just three days to catch Gulf red snapper this year, while charter boats have been granted a seven-week season, NOAA has announced.

The season begins June 1 and concludes June 3 and was cited in a report on AL.com as the shortest-ever season for Gulf red snapper in federal waters.

Federally permitted charter operations, which the NOAA called “for-hire components,”will have a 49-day season starting June 1 and ending July 19.

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In 2016, the total recreational quota was exceeded by nearly 130,000 pounds, according to the NOAA, which said that this year’s quota needs to be reduced to pay back the overage last year.

Another big reason for shorter seasons is increases in state seasons. NOAA calculates the catch quota using catches from both state and federal waters.

Thus, according to the NOAA, “if states establish a longer season for state waters than allowed in federal waters, the federal season must be adjusted to account for the additional harvest expected in state waters.” State seasons for Gulf red snapper vary between 67 and 365 days. In Florida, it’ll last 78 days, starting May 1 two days a week and beginning every day starting May 27.

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NOAA expects 81 percent of the quota to be caught the state waters of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

Many Gulf Coast lawmakers have voiced frustrations concerning the three-day season. Richard Shelby, a republican U.S. senator from Alabama, said in a statement, according to Mobile, Alabama news station Fox 10’s website, “I am deeply troubled and disappointed with NOAA’s decision to considerably shorten the federal recreational fishing season for red snapper in the Gulf. … NOAA’s rule is a significant step backward in our progress to increase limits for private anglers in federal waters.”

NOAA Fisheries said another problem — and reason for a shorter federal season and lower catch quota — more red snapper are being caught now compared to past years. The administration said anglers are catching at two and a half times the rate they did 10 years ago.

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Click here for more information on the NOAA’s reasons for the three-day Gulf red snapper season in federal waters.

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