The U.S. Department of Commerce said an agreement was reached among NOAA, members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the five Gulf Coast states to extend the 2017 recreational red snapper season by 39 weekend days in the Gulf of Mexico for private recreational anglers.
This action, lauded by recreational fishermen across the country, reverses the recent trend of shortening the federal red snapper season.
Under the jurisdiction of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council and the National Marine Fisheries Service within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, what was once a six-month red snapper season with a four-fish bag limit for recreational anglers was reduced to a historically low three-day season with a two-fish bag limit in 2017.
That three-day federal season ran from June 1 to June 3.
As a result of Wednesday’s action, red snapper season will reopen for private recreational anglers in the Gulf this summer out to 200 miles every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, plus Monday and Tuesday of the Fourth of July holiday and the Monday of Labor Day.
The 39-day season will begin on Friday and end on Labor Day (Sept. 4). State seasons will run congruently with the federal season.
“[Wednesday’s] announcement is a fix — albeit a short-term fix — that will allow millions to enjoy one of America’s greatest pastimes and boost economies far beyond the Gulf of Mexico, including in the manufacturing and retail sectors in non-coastal states,” Center for Sportfishing Policy president Jeff Angers said in a statement.
“While private recreational anglers — those who purchased a boat, fishing gear, fishing license, fuel, ice, etc. — were limited to a three-day red snapper season in federal waters this year, charter boat operators were granted a 49-day season and commercial fishermen were granted a 365-day season,” Angers said.
“People profiting from our public resources were gifted more access than the American public,” he said. “By setting the three-day season, federal fisheries managers essentially told the public the only way they could access this public resource would be to hire a charter boat captain to take them fishing for red snapper in federal waters or to purchase red snapper at the grocery store.”