Extension of Federal Gulf Red Snapper Season

  • Extension of Federal Gulf Red Snapper Season

Extension of Federal Gulf Red Snapper Season

Federal regulators claimed the red snapper population has been over fished in recent years, something many anglers dispute. Recreational anglers will be able to start fishing out 200 miles from the Louisiana coast for red snapper every Friday, Saturday and Sunday through September 4. If the catch limit is not met by September 4, there could be a fall red snapper season in state waters until the catch limit is met.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, during an appearance before a Senate committee last week, said the agency is conducting an independent stock estimate of red snapper. The move allows for an extended season in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

"Majority Whip Scalise and his staff have been incredibly helpful on this and a host of other issues, and I wish them and the other victims a speedy recovery", Ross said.

Under the jurisdiction of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council and the National Marine Fisheries Service within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, what was once a six-month red snapper season with a four-fish bag limit for recreational anglers was reduced to a historically low three-day season with a two-fish bag limit in 2017. "Louisiana and MS are going to base their seasons on conservation efforts, which means they're going to monitor the recreational catch and make a determination, and if there are fish left, they will go ahead and open up for a fall season". But, he said, "It has to be done in a way that gives them more flexible access while still adhering to science-based catch limits".

Some officials have questioned what the 2018 federal recreational season might look like if the Gulf's catch limit is exceeded during this 39-day summer season extension.

The commercial sector fishes under a controversial individual fishing quota system that allows fishers to harvest their portion of the quota anytime during the year. Many of these men and women lease out their shares of the quota, earning big paydays from a public resource without ever leaving the dock. "Anglers deserve more than just nine short days to enjoy this fishery that plays such an important role in the traditions and heritage of the Gulf Coast region, especially Louisiana and Alabama". "Adding 39 days to the recreational fishing season for red snapper is great news".