The recreational harvest season for red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico will open on June 1. The recreational seasons for gag grouper and greater amberjack in the Gulf of Mexico will close on May 31. Gag grouper will remain closed throughout 2011, except that there will be a two-month opening in the fall, from Sept. 16 through Nov. 15. Greater amberjack will reopen on Aug. 1.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will discuss the closing date for red snapper in state waters of the Gulf on June 9 at its meeting in St. Augustine. Commissioners will consider adopting a closing date consistent with the federal date of July 18. More details are available in the meeting agenda, at MyFWC.com/Commission.
Gulf gag grouper are considered to be overfished and undergoing overfishing, and federal fisheries managers are preparing a plan to help rebuild populations of these fish in Gulf waters. In the meantime, interim federal rules are in effect that prohibit the recreational harvest of gag grouper in Gulf federal waters (beyond nine nautical miles from shore). This federal prohibition is in effect through the end of 2011, except for a Sept. 16 – Nov. 15 open recreational harvest season for gag grouper in the Gulf.
The FWC’s rule for Gulf state waters, except Monroe County waters, closes gag grouper recreational harvest from June 1 through the end of 2011, except for an open gag grouper recreational harvest season of Sept. 16 – Nov. 15. These seasons apply this year only.
The newly implemented annual June 1 – July 31 closed recreational harvest season for greater amberjack in Gulf of Mexico state waters is also consistent with new rules in Gulf federal waters.
The FWC believes that applying the same closed recreational harvest seasons for gag grouper and greater amberjack in Gulf state waters (inside nine nautical miles from shore) as in federal offshore waters will maximize fishing opportunities for anglers and charter boat operators along Florida’s Gulf coast and provide economic benefits to this region.