Fishery council seeks approval for South Atlantic red snapper season

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The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council has requested an emergency action from the National Marine Fisheries Service to open a 2017 red snapper season in South Atlantic federal waters.

The request was driven by new information on recent increases in East Coast red snapper stock. A final decision from the fisheries service is expected shortly. If approved, a conservative season, estimated to be six to 12 days, could open in late October or early November.

Recreational fishermen would be able to keep one fish a day with no minimum size limit.

The council also took final action to open a limited 2018 red snapper season. If Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross approves, the estimated four- to seven-day season would be open for anglers on weekend days, beginning July 13, 2018.

As with the 2017 proposal, anglers would be able to keep one fish per day with no minimum size limit.

The council’s moves drew support from Keep Florida Fishing and the American Sportfishing Association.

“After years of limited to zero days of recreational red snapper fishing in the South Atlantic, the council’s support to open the fishery for harvest in 2017 and 2018 is a victory for Florida anglers,” Kellie Ralston, Florida fishery policy director of the American Sportfishing Association, said in a statement. “The sportfishing community must also continue pushing for improvements to federal recreational fisheries management in order to improve access to our public resources.”

“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,” Gary Jennings, director of Keep Florida Fishing, said in a statement. “We are optimistic that the federal government will continue to work toward a long-term solution to the issues that have plagued our state’s red snapper fisheries.”

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