While there are signs that red snapper populations are recovering in the Gulf, the species remains below healthy levels. In May of 2012, NOAA Fisheries Service announced a June 1–July 10 recreational season for red snapper in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The Gulf recreational red snapper harvest quota was also increased from 3.520 million pounds to 3.959 million pounds this year.
So, if red snapper stocks are improving and the quota was increased, why was the harvest season further reduced in 2012? This is the logical question being asked by many recreational anglers, and the answer lies in the calculations that are used to determine how long it will take to reach the recreational quota. These calculations are based on the average fish size and the expected fishing effort. Based on recent assessments, the average size for red snapper will be significantly larger this year. The larger average size means that stocks are improving, but it also means that the quota will be reached even faster than it was last year. These calculations resulted in the 40 day harvest season for federal waters of the Gulf.
In subsequent action during May, the FWC Commission discussed management measures for red snapper in state waters of the Gulf. After considerable deliberation, the Commission adopted a consistent June 1–July 10 season for red snapper in state waters. The minimum size limit in the Gulf will remain at 16 inches and the daily bag limit will remain at two fish per person as part of the 10 snapper aggregate bag limit.
For additional information on red snapper
please see MyFWC.com/Fishing/Saltwater/Regulations/Snappers/Gulf-red-snapper
For complete rules on reef species
please see www.FLrules.org/Gateway/ChapterHome.asp?Chapter=68B-14
For information on regulations in federal waters of the Gulf
please see Gulfcouncil.org.
Regulations in red are new this year.
Purple text indicates an important note.