From FWC: Red snapper is one of the most important recreational and commercial fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico and has been for over a century, particularly in the Florida Panhandle. In Florida, red snapper are primarily caught by recreational anglers fishing from charter boats. However, there is a substantial commercial fishery.
Due to their popularity as table fare and as a sport fish, red snapper populations in the Gulf of Mexico have been overfished since the early 1980s. Efforts are in place to rebuild the populations throughout the Gulf of Mexico.
Red Snapper Regulations in the Gulf of Mexico
Regulations for red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico were changed for state and federal waters prior to the 2008 fishing season. These regulations reduced the recreational bag limit and substantially reduced the recreational harvest season. The red snapper commercial fishery implemented an Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) system in 2007 and operated under a lower overall quota in 2008. Also, new reef fish gear rules took effect June 1, 2008 for state and federal waters.
Currently the 2009 open recreational harvest season for red snapper in state waters of the Gulf of Mexico is June 1 through September 30. However, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) estimated that recreational fishers in the Gulf exceeded 2008’s annual red snapper catch limit by approximately 1.2 million pounds and federal law requires that harvest levels must be reduced in the year following a previous year’s overharvest. To offset last year’s overharvest, the NMFS shortened the 2009 recreational red snapper harvest season in Gulf federal waters (beyond 9 nautical miles from shore) from June 1 through September 30 to June 1 through August 14. Charter and head boats that hold federal permits for Gulf red snapper are required to abide by the federal season, even in state waters. The FWC is proposing the same season change in state waters and will hold a final public hearing on the proposed season change at its Commission Meeting on June 18 in Crystal River.
Recreational Bag Limits for Federal and State waters
• The recreational bag and possession limit is two (2) red snapper per person per day
• Possession of the recreational bag limit by captain and crew of for-hire vessels is prohibited
2009 Recreational Season
• State waters of the Gulf of Mexico: June 1 – September 30 (2009 season may change)
• Federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico: June 1 – August 14
• The commercial minimum size limit of harvested and imported fish is 13 inches total length
• The commercial daily bag and trip limit is 2 fish per person in state waters
• The commercial quota set at 2.55 million pounds
• Seasonal and area closures are in place for the commercial shrimping industry to reduce effort in order in minimize juvenile red snapper bycatch
Reef Fish Gear Regulations (Effective June 1, 2008)
Commercial and Recreational
• Require the use of non-stainless steel circle hooks when using natural bait (live or dead) when fishing for any of the reef fish species
• Require venting tools and dehooking devices to be onboard and used on all vessels harvesting any of the reef fish species