Anglers can keep red snapper for two weekends in August
By Ed Killer, Treasure Coast Newspapers
Recreational anglers eager to hear from federal fishery managers when they can keep a red snapper for the dinner table got word late Monday from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service Southeast Regional Office.
For two consecutive weekends Aug. 10-12 and Aug. 17-19, recreational anglers fishing federal waters of the South Atlantic, extending from 3 to 200 miles off the U.S. coast, will be able to keep one red snapper per angler per day. There is no size limit.
Commercial fishers will be able to begin harvesting red snapper at 12:01 a.m. Thursday and will close at 11:59 p.m., local time, Dec. 31, unless the commercial annual catch limit is met or projected to be met before that date.
NOAA Fisheries determined limited harvest beginning in 2018 is neither expected to result in overfishing, nor prevent continued rebuilding of the red snapper population in waters of the Atlantic.
This news comes days after the Gulf of Mexico red snapper season ended July 20 after a 40-day fishing season.
Atlantic anglers were glad, but frustrated with what they believed to be an unnecessary delay in the announcement. Capt. Rick Marchetti, of Surf Rider charters out of Mulligan’s in Sebastian, wondered why Friday in a text to TCPalm.
“What are they (federal fishery managers) waiting for?” he asked. “A hurricane?”
His next text offered another theory.
“Oh, I know,” he texted, “cold water.”
Capt. Chris Cameron, of Fired Up Fishing Charters out of Port Canaveral, said his business began booking two charter trips a day and has nearly sold out. Capt. Jonathan Earhart, of Mayhem fishing charters out of Sailfish Marina in Stuart, said he began booking trips within minutes of the announcement going public.
One delay in the announcement expected as much as a month ago was NOAA Fisheries considering changes to the overall Fishery Management Plan for red snapper. Amendment 43 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region specifies new annual catch limits for recreational and commercial fishing sectors for red snapper beginning in 2018.
The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council approved Amendment 43 after recent scientific information indicated an increase in the red snapper population since 2010, according to a statement from NOAA Fisheries.
Charter skippers and weekend warriors who enjoy fishing for snapper from Stuart to North Carolina will be taking advantage of the situation.
Red snapper season
– The total annual catch limit will be 42,510 fish.
– The recreational annual catch limit will be 29,656 fish.
– The recreational bag limit will be one red snapper per person per day. This applies to private and charterboat/headboat vessels (the captain and crew on for-hire vessels may retain the recreational bag limit).
– The commercial annual catch limit will be 124,815 pounds whole weight (12,854 fish).
– The commercial trip limit will be 75 pounds gutted weight.
– There will be no minimum or maximum size limit for the recreational or commercial sectors.
– NOAA Fisheries expects that beginning in 2019, commercial and recreational harvest will begin in July, as per Amendment 43 and the final rule.