Fishery Council approves exempted fishing pilot program for red snapper

Red Snapper

Alabama anglers have moved one step closer to being allowed to participate in an experiment involving state control of red snapper season lengths and the collection of harvest data.

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council approved an exempted fishing permit pilot program for the 2018 and 2019 Red Snapper seasons in the Gulf of Mexico at meeting in New Orleans on Thursday.

All five Gulf States — Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas — had requested the council allow them to try an alternative style of red snapper management last month. Under the experiment, each state has requested a portion of the total allowable catch for private recreational anglers in the Gulf and they will each be responsible for monitoring landings so they do not exceed their portion.

Sen. Richard Shelby tweeted the decision was “critical in providing private anglers more days to fish on the water.”

“Pleased that the Gulf Council has approved state-led fishery management pilot programs for red snapper, established through my work on Senate Appropriations Committee. This is a critical step in providing private anglers more days to fish on the water,” he posted Thursday afternoon.

Alabama 1st District Rep. Bradley Byrne said the decision is good news for businesses along the coast.

“I want to thank the Gulf Council for their support of the exempted fishing permit pilot program to ensure local fishermen have an adequate Red Snapper season for the next two years,” Bryne said in a statement. “As I have always said, this issue is about so much for than just our fishermen. A full Red Snapper season is good news for the hotels, restaurants, gas stations, and other small businesses in our coastal communities.

Byrne continued, “I also want to thank Senator Richard Shelby, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Commissioner Chris Blankenship, and our other Gulf Coast colleagues for working together to ensure our fishermen and coastal communities have a full and adequate Red Snapper season.”

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.

There will now be a 30 day comment period before the exempted fishing permits are actually issued.

This story is still developing and will updated soon.