NOAA Reopens Red Snapper Season
At the request of the Gulf Council, NOAA Fisheries Service will reopen the recreational red snapper season for eight consecutive weekends (Friday through Sunday), beginning October 1, 2010. The re-opening is effective each weekend from 12:01 a.m. local time, Friday through 12:01 a.m. local time Monday. The fishing season will close for the remainder of 2010 at 12:01 a.m. local time, November 22, 2010.
Anglers are reminded that current fishing regulations apply. Anglers may keep two red snapper per person, per day, that measure a minimum of 16" total length. In addition, anglers must have in possession a venting tool and dehooking device when fishing for Gulf reef fish. The use of non-stainless steel circle hooks is also required for fishermen using natural baits. For-hire captain and crew are not permitted to keep red snapper.
This spring, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council increased the overall red snapper quota from 5.0 million pounds to 6.945 million pounds, yet the 2010 recreational red snapper season was open for only 53 days. This shortened season was due, in part, to an increase in catch rates and the average size of red snapper. This increase, coupled with past effort, led to projections that the quota would be filled sooner than in 2009. But the BP/Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and subsequent federal fishing area closure resulted in reduced effort, leaving the recreational red snapper quota unfilled.
In light of this information, the Gulf Council requested that NOAA Fisheries Service institute rulemaking to reopen the recreational red snapper season later this year to allow the harvest of the remaining red snapper quota.
The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council is one of eight regional fishery management councils established by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976. The Council prepares fishery management plans designed to manage fishery resources in the federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico.