Red Snapper Season Extended

By Rich Armstrong

Anglers praise government decision that benefits recreational fishermen, look to 2018.

Red snapper caught offshore of Anna Maria IslandThis nice American red snapper was landed in about 125 feet, offshore of Anna Maria Island. (Photo Courtesy of Show Me The Fish Charters)

The federal government announced June 14 a multi-agency agreement to extend the 2017 recreational red snapper season by 39 weekend days in the Gulf of Mexico for private recreational anglers. The decision was praised by angling advocacy groups.

The red snapper season was once six months, before being repeatedly reduced to a historically low three-day season with a two-fish bag limit in 2017. The season originally set to end June 3 was stretched through Labor Day thanks to the agreement. Now, what about the 2018 season and beyond?

"The extension of the red snapper season for 2017 orchestrated by the Trump administration was welcomed by most, but it is only a short-term fix," said Jeff Angers, president of the recreational angling advocacy group Center for Sportfishing Policy. "We know there are members of Congress working on a comprehensive solution for Gulf red snapper management. Going forward, the ball is in Congress' court as lawmakers figure out how to keep public fishery resources public."

The federal restriction on the prized fish was prompted by commercial overfishing, which provoked recreational anglers to argue the current management system is unfairly punishing them. Only a fraction of red snappers are caught and taken by recreational anglers when compared to commercial fishing.

"We must now find a permanent solution to the problem. Recreational anglers deserve a more consistent fishery-management approach," Angers said. "The commonsense long-term solution is to turn the Gulf red snapper recreational fishery over to the states. The five Gulf states have a proven track record of allowing reasonable public access to healthy fish stocks off their coasts, and they are far more in touch with the recreational fishing community than the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council."

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— Published: July 2017

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