Skip to main content

Call to Action: Stop Bad from Getting Worse with Atlantic Red Snapper

"The red snapper stock is overfished and it is experiencing overfishing based on the fishing mortality rate..." This is where bad can go to worse.

Call to Action: Stop Bad from Getting Worse with Atlantic Red Snapper

Extremely common views on reefs between Canaveral and Jacksonville: Sonar picture of red snapper school, and subsequent frame grab of video showing fish rising to the boat. 

The National Marine Fisheries Service now says we, the recreational angler, are catching too many red snapper out of season, resulting in too many fish dying after release. This announcement is on the tail of another ridiculously short two-day season in the Atlantic.

So, which is it? A fishery overfished, and not doing well enough for a season longer than two days? Or an ocean thick of chunky red snapper resulting in too many fish being caught out of season?

Jacksonville angler and Florida Sportsman editor Capt. Rick Ryals says it’s the latter. “We’ve never had a red snapper fishery this good. Not in the 1960s, not in the ’70s,” Rick exclaimed. “Never.”

However, John Carmichael, South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, says the NMFS March 2021 stock assessment paints a slightly different picture. “The red snapper stock does show notable improvement in overall stock abundance, driven by strong recruitment in recent years. However, the red snapper stock is overfished and it is experiencing overfishing based on the fishing mortality rate, and the vast majority of the fishing mortality is from recreational releases.”

This is where bad can go to worse.

Because of this supposed high rate of discard mortality, “the Council is considering closing bottom fishing for all 55 species of snapper and grouper in the name of red snapper. This would unnecessarily harm Florida anglers at a time when the abundance of red snapper is at a record high and better data to inform future management is being gathered,” said Martha Guyas, Southeast Policy Director of the American Sportfishing Association.

Emily Abellera, Public Information Specialist II, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) agrees that the Council is considering several potential management options including gear modifications, timed seasons, and area or depth closures. Emily also stated that the FWC is committed to working with the Council to find options to reduce release mortality; however, FWC strongly opposes any time or area closures off Florida.

As it stands today, the current stock assessment, which indicates we’re overfishing red snapper, is set in stone until 2028. However, we have hope that the independent 30-month study dubbed the Great South Atlantic Red Snapper Count will provide much-needed clarity on the true stock assessment.

East coast bottom fishermen, you, we, are in trouble.

The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) meets in Charleston, SC in September and they need to hear from anglers, you.

“To make these sweeping management decisions without considering the independent data that is on the way would be irresponsible,” said Jacksonville Congressman John Rutherford. And across the aisle Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy said this: “Florida has made progress in rebuilding the South Atlantic red snapper stock, and the ongoing Great Red Snapper Count will provide the data to demonstrate this progress."

The Council needs to hear from us, you, now. Before it’s too late. Let’s stop any further discussions of time and area closures. The public comment period is open via the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council’s website, and on September 14, 4 p.m. They will be taking public comments in person. However, for most of you who are reading this after September 14, your comments are still vital to the future of how the snapper fishery will be managed. For those of you in Cape Canaveral to Jacksonville, who have suffered through years of “Snappergate” please make the three to five-hour drive to Charleston. For those of you reading this, after September 14, please submit your comments via the SAMFC’s website. FS




For those who are seeing this online, prior to the Sept. 14, 4 p.m., public comment period of the Council’s Sept. meeting, please attend in person. Red snapper and possible closures and gear restrictions will be discussed Tues. Sept 13, but the public comment period will be Sept 14 at the Town & Country Inn, 2008 Savannah Highway, Charleston, SC.

Published Florida Sportsman Magazine October 2022

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

Recent Videos

Let's break down how to modify one of the easiest and strongest line-to-leader connections when using heavy fluorocarbon or monofilament leader.

How to Modify Double Uni Connection for Heavy Leader

Jeff Weakley, editor of Florida Sportsman Magazine, breaks down how to tie a non-slip loop knot, an easy and useful fishing knot that every fisherman who uses artificial lures needs to know.

How to Tie a Loop Knot: Best Fishing Knot for Lures and Jigs

Jeff Weakley, editor of Florida Sportsman Magazine, breaks down the easiest way to tie one of the most versatile, strong and reliable fishing knots that every fisherman needs to know, the uni knot.

How to Tie a Uni Knot: Easy, Strong & Reliable Fishing Knot

The scented and flavored Gulp! baits are always a good choice in saltwater, and the Grub style baits in particular are a universal choice. Learn how to choose and rig different sizes for different kinds of fishing, from the flats to the coastal reefs. Plus, a Key West fishing expert weighs in on special uses for offshore fishing.

Berkley Gulp! Curly Tail Grub. Berkley Gulp! Grub is a Surprise Hit In Salt Water

In salt water, everything eats shrimp. The Berkley Gulp! Shrimp is an excellent choice for any situation where you want to appeal to a marine fish's interest in shrimp. Here's expert advice on rigging these unique baits, plus proven tips on casting and retrieving them. Storage is another great attribute; these shrimp baits are ready to go when you are!

Berkley Gulp! Shrimp: A Bait That's Better than Live Shrimp!

Join professional surf fishing guide Capt. Paul Sperco for a conversation about reels that hold up in extreme saltwater conditions. Sperco also offers great tips on rigging different kinds of spinning combos for catching pompano, whiting, snook and other popular fish. All of it is done from shore! Easy, fun fishing anyone can enjoy.

Penn Sealed Saltwater Reels: Durable Reels for Surf, Pier and Other Saltwater Fishing

We join Key West, Florida, fishing Captain Pepe Gonzalez to discuss one the most important advances in saltwater fishing tackle in the last 25 years: The advent of fluorocarbon leader material. Fluorocarbon definitely improves your chances of getting bites from wary-eyed ocean fish such as snappers, tunas, tarpon and sailfish.

Berkley Fluorocarbon line: Captains Say Use Fluorocarbon Leader to Catch More Fish

Florida Sportsman Magazine Covers Print and Tablet Versions

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

Preview This Month's Issue

Buy Digital Single Issues

Magazine App Logo

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Florida Sportsman App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Florida Sportsman stories delivered right to your inbox.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Florida Sportsman subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Enjoying What You're Reading?

Get a Full Year
of Guns & Ammo
& Digital Access.

Offer only for new subscribers.

Subscribe Now