Keep Florida Fishing Praises Announcement by National Marine Fisheries Service to Open Limited South Atlantic 2017 Red Snapper Season for Harvest

(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.)Keep Florida Fishing, an advocacy arm of the American Sportfishing Association, praised the final decision made public today by NOAA Fisheries to open the 2017 Atlantic Red Snapper Season for limited harvest in November.

The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) had requested an emergency action from NOAA Fisheries at its September meeting in Charleston, South Carolina to open a limited 2017 red snapper season in South Atlantic federal waters. The request was driven by new information on recent increases in the east coast red snapper stock.

“After years of limited to zero days of recreational red snapper fishing in the South Atlantic, the decision to open the fishery for harvest in 2017 is a victory for Florida anglers. We are thrilled with today’s decision by the Secretary of Commerce and appreciate the hard work of the SAFMC to provide this opportunity. The sportfishing community must also continue pushing for improvements to federal recreational fisheries management in order to improve access to our public resources,” said Kellie Ralston, Florida Fishery Policy Director of the American Sportfishing Association.

“Red snapper is one of the most popular sport fish in Florida, and the reopening of this fishery in South Atlantic waters will greatly benefit our coastal communities that rely on the economic activity driven by recreational fishing. We will continue to work with the federal government toward long-term solution to the issues that have plagued our state’s red snapper fisheries,” said Gary Jennings, Director of Keep Florida Fishing.

The recreational season will open for two consecutive 3-day weekends beginning November 3rd. Anglers may harvest one red snapper per day November 3rd through the 5th and November 10th through the 12th. There is no minimum size limit. Anglers are encouraged to use the following best fishing practices during the season:

• Avoid areas likely to have red snapper if you already have met your recreational bag limit. If you are approaching your commercial vessel limit, move to a different area.
• When red snapper are out of season, avoid areas where they are common.
• Use single hook rigs since the recreational bag limit for red snapper during the limited fishing season is one per person per day. This will potentially reduce the number of red snapper that are caught on one drop.
• Use a dehooking device to remove the hook. Keep fish in the water if you plan to release them or return them as quickly as possible.
• Use descending devices when releasing fish with signs of barotrauma.

In order to help provide much needed information on recreational harvest, anglers are strongly encouraged to record their catch at www.myfishcount.com. This information is critical to accurately assessing the health of the South Atlantic red snapper stock and improving future access to the fishery.

Florida is the “Fishing Capital of the World,” with more than 3 million anglers who generate $9.6 billion in economic impact, support more than 128,000 jobs and contribute $53.3 million to state conservation efforts through license fees and special taxes on motor boat fuel and equipment.