At its December meeting last week in North Carolina, the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council approved Snapper Grouper Amendment 28, which provides limited harvest of red snapper in federal waters off the southeast Atlantic coast beginning next year. Red snapper fishing had been closed in the region since Jan. 4, 2010, until a short mini-season was allowed this past September.
According to the council’s press release: "The amendment addresses methods for specifying an ACL (annual catch limit) for red snapper and establishes criteria for commercial and recreational red snapper fishing seasons based on the available ACL.
"Beginning in 2013, and continuing until modified, the amendment specifies a commercial season beginning on the second Monday in July, with the length to be determined by the ACL. The recreational season would begin on the second Friday in July and consist of consecutive weekends only (Friday, Saturday and Sunday).
"NOAA Fisheries will complete an analysis each year, estimating the length of the recreational red-snapper-fishing season and announce the recreational ACL and opening of the fishing season.
"The end of the recreational season will be pre-determined and announced before the start of the recreational season. The recreational season will not open if the projected season length is three days or less.
"The amendment establishes a commercial trip limit of 75 pounds (gutted weight), eliminates the minimum size limit for both commercial and recreational sectors, and sets a bag limit of one red snapper per person per day in the recreational fishery."
The amendment has been submitted to the Secretary of Commerce for final approval.