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Gulf Red Snapper Season Opens Today

CCA Florida joins FWC in requesting extension of 3-day season.



The three-day 2017 Gulf federal waters red snapper season (June 1 – 3) has recreational anglers upset and angry, and state conservation and advocacy groups are joining the conversation. Coastal Conservation Association Florida (CCA Florida), is commending the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) for addressing the three-day season with the federal government in an effort to extend the season for recreational anglers.

“The short season is almost a slap in the face for the recreational fisherman,” said Trip Aukeman, Director of Advocacy for CCA Florida. “We all understand that the biomass of red snapper in the Gulf is growing, and the Gulf Council has said that it's the biggest biomass we've ever seen. You've got the commercial guys catching their fish, the charter guys catching fish for their time, and the recreational anglers catching 80 percent of their fish in state waters and the stock is still growing. So something needs to be done. We're missing the whole stock of fish in the federal waters and hammering the state waters stocks.”

In a letter to the Secretary of Commerce dated May 25, the FWC stated their willingness to work with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) by reducing the state water season for red snapper, if the Service is willing to have a longer, more substantial federal season. CCA Florida, with a state-wide membership of over 17,000 recreational anglers and outdoor enthusiasts, applauds the FWC, state representatives and the Secretary of Commerce for collectively working to have a longer Gulf of Mexico federal red snapper season for recreational fisherman.

“We support these efforts to extend the season,” Aukeman said. “In time, change is also going to have to come from a reworking of the Magnuson Stevens Act or possibly a new federal fisheries law, such as the Modern Fisheries Act, which CCA also supports.” The Modern Fisheries Act addresses many of the recreational fishing communities' concerns and priorities, including improved public access to federal waters.

There's a lot more going on to make changes to the management of Gulf red snapper. The Gulf Council has under consideration rules to give greater management authority to states, and just last week, the state of Louisiana announced a plan to randomly draw anglers to get permits to keep red snapper, which met with much opposition.

“In the Louisiana plan,” Aukeman said, “150 anglers, randomly drawn, would get permits to catch about 25,000 pounds of red snapper, and then electronically report them. We want all anglers to get access to this fishery. The state of Louisiana CCA chapter was against the proposed plan, and we support them. Also, the state of Texas wrote that they would work with National Marine Fisheries Service to trade days out of their 365-state season to lengthen the federal season. I'm sure this will be discussed at length at the Gulf Council in Naples next week.

“It's an absolute mess out there,” Aukeman said.

“I wish I were out there fishing today, the first day of the season. But I'm behind the desk at CCA, working with CCA National, trying to find a solution for the red snapper fishery and other reef fisheries going forward.”

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