Alabama red snapper season closes Sunday, 6 weeks early

red snapper
Red snapper [Photo Credit: Pen Waggener via Flickr]

After its first season of self-managing red snapper fishing, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) is bringing the season to an end six weeks earlier than expected.

The Marine Resources Division (MRD) of the ADCNR made the announcement last week that the season to harvest red snapper by private anglers and state-licensed commercial party boats will come to an end on 11:59 p.m. Sunday, July 22, 2018 due to the fact the quota of 984,291 pounds issued under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Marine Fisheries’ Alabama Recreational Red Snapper Exempted Fishing Permit (EFP) is expected to be met by the closure date. The season was originally scheduled to run through Labor Day, September 3.

“Alabama anglers fished extremely hard on the good weather days during the season,” said Marine Resources Director Scott Bannon. “That level of effort, coupled with larger average-sized fish harvested this year as compared to last year, resulted in a daily harvest rate two times higher than 2017, which prompted an earlier than anticipated closure.

“The purpose of the EFP was to demonstrate Alabama’s ability to establish a season and monitor landings within a fixed quota and I think we have shown we can do that,” said Bannon.

The state-managed season was made possible through language authored by U.S. Senator Richard Shelby in the FY2017 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill that directed the NOAA Fisheries to develop the fishery management pilot program allowing states to direct reef fish management activities.

Anglers are reminded of the following:

  • Possession of red snapper in Alabama waters while state waters are closed is prohibited regardless of where the fish were harvested.
  • Alabama anglers may fish in federal waters off the coast of Alabama (outside of 9 nm) and land in a state that is open to the landing of red snapper, but they must adhere to the open state’s rules and not transit in Alabama state waters with red snapper on board.
  • The season for federally-permitted charter for-hire vessels will close at 12:01 a.m. July 22.

In-season landings estimates were calculated through the use of Snapper Check, the program established in 2014 to collect mandatory trip reports from anglers, and this monitoring tool was a key component of the EFP.

MRD staff will review the complete 2018 season effort and landings data to develop a plan for the 2019 season. Summary data from the season and information about the EFP can been found online here.