A $3.3 million study to assess the South Atlantic red snapper fishery was ushered in by U.S. Reps. John Rutherford and Stephanie Murphy, according to a statement from the American Sportfishing Association.
Rutherford, a Republican and Murphy, a Democrat led a bipartisan effort that secured federal funding for the research.
“Improving our understanding of South Atlantic red snapper will lead to better management of this iconic species, which was limited to a four-day federal season in 2020 for recreational anglers,” said Kellie Ralston, Southeast fisheries policy director for the ASA.
Modeled after the previous “Great Red Snapper Count” in the Gulf of Mexico, the recently funded study is a group project among the University of Florida, North Carolina State University, Texas A&M Corpus Christi and NOAA Fisheries.
“As an avid angler, I know fishing is a key part of the Florida way of life and few times of the year are as exciting as red snapper season,” said Rep. Murphy. “As a kid nothing beat fishing weekends with my dad, so I’m hopeful this step will lead to a longer red snapper season for Florida families and boost economic activity in our state.”
Rep. Rutherford added: “Recreational fishing in the South Atlantic supports thousands of jobs in Northeast Florida and contributes millions of dollars each year to our local economy. Unfortunately, the red snapper season in the South Atlantic is too short and does not accurately reflect the abundance of fish currently in the ocean.”
Conducted over 30 months, the study will estimate the number of red snapper in the regional fishery, including in areas not traditionally targeted by fisheries surveys.
“We appreciate the efforts of Reps. Rutherford and Murphy who, recognizing the economic and cultural importance of the fishery in the region, secured this critical funding to improve the science used to make management decisions and will increase angler access to healthy fisheries in the future,” added Ralston.