The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is asking anglers to help gather important information about the Atlantic red snapper fishery. The recreational red snapper season in Atlantic federal waters (beyond 3 nautical miles in the Atlantic) is open for 8 days this year: July 11, 12, 13; July 18, 19, 20; and July 25 and 26.
Researchers at the FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI) will be out along Florida’s east coast during each day of the season, asking recreational fishers about their red snapper trips and their catch. This special survey is needed to gather more precise information on the numbers of red snapper caught by recreational anglers and spearfishers during the harvest season. Researchers will also collect biological samples of harvested fish (which will not affect the fillets) to help determine the age of each red snapper.
Last year researchers collected 1,701 samples from red snapper harvested during the three-day recreational season.
“Information shared by recreational fishers during this cooperative research effort is an important opportunity for fisheries scientists to obtain valuable data that can be used to assess the health of the stock and sustainability of the fishery,” explained FWRI researcher Beverly Sauls. “Data provided by recreational anglers during the 2013 season helped to make the 2014 season possible—these data are integral to understanding the Atlantic red snapper fishery.”
While the federal opening will have no minimum size limit and a bag limit of one fish per person per day, in Florida state waters (from shore to 3 nautical miles) there is a 20-inch total length minimum size limit, and a bag limit of two fish per person, per day. Vessels with red snapper smaller than the state’s minimum size limit must travel through state waters without stopping and have fishing gear stowed.
When anglers catch a tagged red snapper, FWC researchers ask that they report it to the Angler Tag Return Hotline: 800-367-4461. When calling the hotline, anglers should indicate the species, tag number, date and time of capture, catch location, fish length, type of bait used and whether the fish was kept or released. If the fish is released, the angler is asked to leave the tag in place to help with future data collection.
For more information about red snapper sampling efforts, and for a list of carcass drop-off locations, visit MyFWC.com/Research, then click “Saltwater,” “Commercial and Recreational Fisheries,” and then “Recreational Fisheries.” For information on red snapper regulations, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing, and click on “Saltwater Fishing” under “Recreational Regulations” and then select “Atlantic Snappers.”