Season extended in federal waters, cut in state waters.
The U.S. Department of Commerce announced today that days have been added to the Gulf federal waters red snapper season this year. The original 2017 recreational red snapper season in Gulf federal waters was held June 1-3. The short season raised the ire of anglers and was widely perceived as a slight to recreational angler in Florida and other Gulf states. Officials got to work trying to negotiate among federal and state agencies to add days to the season, and last week FWC officials announced that more days would likely be added, as soon as this upcoming weekend.
The extended season will be 39 days, opening Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from this Friday, June 16 through Monday, September 4 (Labor Day), including Monday and Tuesday, July 3-4 and Monday, September 4.
The added days would require giving up state days on Monday through Thursday during the summer (with the exception of holidays), in addition to giving up a state season during the fall. Changes would only apply to private recreational anglers – not commercial fishing or charter boats.
The official Dept. of Commerce statement on the change states:
“For the first time in a decade, Federal authorities and the five Gulf States have agreed to align Federal and State private angler red snapper fishing seasons for the remainder of the summer, and the Department of Commerce has re-opened the 2017 private angler recreational season for 39 weekend days and holidays. Majority Whip Scalise and other Members of Congress were instrumental in reaching this agreement.”
The daily recreational limit for red snapper in Gulf federal waters is two fish per person with a minimum length of 16 inches.
While anglers are concerned that these added days may reduce the season next year and possibly thereafter, fishery managers are aware of these concerns and have expressed confidence in public phone conferences that upcoming developments in red snapper stocks management will also be good news for anglers.