Anglers got some good news on Sept. 2 as the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) agreed to reopen the recreational harvest season for red snapper in Gulf of Mexico state waters for eight straight three-day weekends this fall. This action coincides with a proposed open season for red snapper that is expected to be implemented in Gulf federal waters off of Florida on the same dates.
“This is just what the doctor ordered and couldn’t have come at a better time to give a much-needed boost to our Gulf fishing communities that have had a challenging summer, to say the least, because of the Gulf oil spill,” said FWC Chairman Rodney Barreto.
The regular recreational harvest season for red snapper in all waters of the Gulf off Florida took place from June 1 until July 24 this year. This season was set based on projections of how many red snapper could be caught by recreational anglers without exceeding the annual harvest quota, which was established to help rebuild overfished stocks so that anglers can benefit from better red snapper fishing in the future.
However, recreational fishing effort for Gulf red snapper by private and charter boats was much less than anticipated because of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which resulted in fishing closures and cancelled fishing trips in federal and state waters off parts of Florida’s Gulf coast. Consequently, the established Gulf recreational red snapper quota was not met during the regular season, which means more fishing days can be opened this year.
Anglers will be able to keep the current Gulf daily recreational limit of two red snapper greater than 16 inches total length per person on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays beginning Oct. 1 and extending for eight consecutive weekends through Sunday, Nov. 21.
“That gives folks an extra 24 days to enjoy Gulf red snapper fishing at a time when the weather is usually very nice and on weekends when most people are able to take off from work,” Barreto said. Updated information about red snapper management and regulations is available online at MyFWC.com/Rules (click on “Fishing – Saltwater”).