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Red Snapper Update

July 14, 2011

Good news may be coming for Gulf of Mexico red snapper anglers. The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council called for a "re-run" of the red snapper projections that included the 2009 and 2010 actual landings data. The Council's Science Committee reviewed the re-run results and determined that the 2011 Total Allowable Catch could be increased by 345,000 pounds.

In its June meeting, the Council requested that NOAA Fisheries Service develop an emergency rule to suspend the recreational red snapper closure date and assign the entire 345,000 pounds of increased allowable catch to the recreational sector for the 2011 season. Still, red snapper season closed July 18 at midnight in Gulf federal and state waters. The recreational red snapper season, on paper, runs June 1- September 30 but has consistently closed early since it was established.

It remains to be seen if there will be a fall red snapper season in the Gulf of Mexico in 2011. At the June Council meeting, there was an options paper presented that would revise the structure of the fall recreational snapper season. Currently, three actions contained in the options paper include:

• Revise or eliminate the October through December fixed closed season.

• Provide for weekends only, or weekdays only fishing periods. This would provide the Council with more options for in-season management, or during a supplemental season should the fishery be reopened after a premature closure.

• Increase the 2012 red snapper Total Allowable Catch based on the 2011 red snapper rerun analysis.

Public hearings for this regulatory amendment will be held sometime after the August 2011 Council meeting.

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