Recreational fishermen across the Gulf of Mexico and the East Coast, rejoice — the days of federal mismanagement of red snapper fishing may soon be over.
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources on Wednesday announced the Gulf States — Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas — have banded together to submit proposals for an alternative style of red snapper management for private and state charter vessel anglers during 2018 and 2019. If approved by NOAA Fisheries, each state would have the ability to establish fishing season start and end dates in federal waters off their respective state’s coast.
Under the proposals, each state has requested a portion of the total allowable catch for private recreational anglers in the Gulf and they would each be responsible for monitoring landings so they do not exceed their portion.
Alabama will use Snapper Check to monitor its landings and determine if:
- the season will close as anticipated;
- the season will close earlier than anticipated due to daily landings exceeding forecasted totals; or
- the original season length should be increased if daily landings do not meet anticipated levels (i.e. due to smaller fish size or inclement weather).
Alabama’s proposal has state and federal waters opening for weekends only (Friday–Sunday) from June 1 through September 3 (Labor Day). The season would also include the entire week of Independence Day, June 30- July 8.
These specific proposals are referred to as Exempted Fishing Permits. They will be reviewed by NOAA Fisheries and state representatives on Wednesday, Jan. 31 during the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council meeting in New Orleans.
“While we are not quite there yet, this plan is light years better than the short seasons we suffered. My ultimate goal is to end federal regulation and allow Alabama to regulate our own fisheries,” said Zeigler, an angler himself, living in Mobile, Ala.
The season for anglers planning on fishing from a federally-permitted charter vessel this year will begin June 1 and end sometime in late July. The season will be announced by NOAA Fisheries in the coming months.