The United States Department of Commerce announced the federal red snapper season in the Gulf of Mexico will be reopened for recreational anglers.
The new season will conclude Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 4. This announcement comes after the original three-day federal season for the popular species closed two weeks ago.
The plan will include 39 additional days of red snapper fishing in Gulf federal waters for recreational anglers. The announcement is a result of an agreement between the Department of Commerce and the five Gulf states — Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas — which hoped to improve access for the species.
These changes only apply to recreational anglers, not commercial or charter fishing.
The announcement is a huge victory for recreational anglers and advocacy groups such as the American Sportfishing Association. The group’s conservation director, Mike Leonard, said the announcement “is a welcome relief for the thousands of tackle shops, marinas, equipment manufacturers and other business who have suffered from decreasing public access to Gulf red snapper in recent years.” Keep Florida Fishing also issued a statement praising the decision.
“An extended federal Gulf red snapper season will have a tremendous positive economic impact on Florida’s coastal communities, which depend on our state’s $9.6 billion sportfishing industry,” said Gary Jennings, the group’s director. “We appreciate efforts to expand access to our fisheries, and we will continue to push for improvements to federal management of recreational fishing.”
The original Gulf season in federal waters was June 1-3, the shortest ever. All Gulf states had longer seasons, with Florida enacting a 78-day season. It also will end Labor Day.
The extended federal season will consist of three-day weekends (Friday-Sunday) from Friday, June 16 through Monday, September 4. Fishing also will be allowed on Monday and Tuesday, July 3-4 and Monday, September 4. The compromise to reach the agreement is that each state’s season also will be closed Monday through Thursday during the season, with the exception of holidays. Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas might gain additional fishing days in state waters in the fall depending on harvest estimates from the summer season.
The Department of Commerce’s announcement on its website added that the agreement between the federal government and the Gulf states “is a significant step forward in building a new Federal-State partnership in managing the Gulf of Mexico red snapper stock.”