Federal Gulf Red Snapper Season Set for Three Days

NOAA announces season begins June 1, blames short season on exceeding 2016 quota

red snapper caught fishing Gulf of Mexico season
NOAA announced a three-day Gulf red snapper season in federal waters for recreational anglers fishing from privately owned boats.Doug Olander / Sport Fishing

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced a three-day Gulf of Mexico federal red snapper season for recreational anglers from privately owned boats. The season begins June 1 and concludes June 3, and a report on AL.com calls it the shortest ever for Gulf red snapper in federal waters.

Federally permitted charter operations, which NOAA defined as "for-hire components," will have a 49-day season starting June 1 and ending July 19. The catch quota for private angling is set at 3,004,075 pounds whole weight. For charter boats, the catch quota is 2,278,000 pounds whole weight for the 2017 season. In 2016, the total recreational quota was exceeded by 129,906 pounds, according to NOAA. By law, the next year's quota needs to make up the difference.

Another big reason for shorter seasons is increases in state seasons. NOAA calculates the catch quota using catches from both state and federal waters. Therefore, NOAA stated in its release, "if states establish a longer season for state waters than allowed in federal waters, the federal season must be adjusted to account for the additional harvest expected in state waters." State seasons for Gulf red snapper vary between 67 and 365 days. In Florida, it'll last 78 days and started May 1. NOAA said it expects 81 percent of the quota to be caught the state waters of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

Many Gulf Coast lawmakers are against the short season. United States Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) said in a statement, according to Mobile, Alabama news station Fox 10's website, "I am deeply troubled and disappointed with NOAA's decision to considerably shorten the federal recreational fishing season for red snapper in the Gulf. ... NOAA's rule is a significant step backward in our progress to increase limits for private anglers in federal waters."

NOAA Fisheries said another problem — and reason for a shorter federal season and lower catch quota — is anglers are catching red snapper at two and a half times the rate they did 10 years ago.

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council's website still lists the daily recreational bag limit of red snapper for federal waters of the region at two per person and the minimum total length allowed as 16 inches.