Red snapper opens today

Anglers are snapping up spots to be among the first to reel in red snapper, as the highly anticipated for-hire season starts today.

“We’re filling up,” said Pam Anderson, the operations manager for Capt. Anderson’s Marina. “We have some openings left, mostly for the afternoon five-hour trips and eight-hour night trips.”

Red snapper, known for both their size and flavor, is perhaps the most sought after fish by anglers.

“We have people who will book trips just for red snapper,” Anderson said.

Red snapper have been under tight regulations as federal fishery managers were concerned about overfishing and the long term sustainability of the species. But ahead of this season, a new tone has been set, as NOAA has removed red snapper from its list of “overfished species” and loosened the reins a bit.

The federal for-hire season, which includes federally permitted charter and head boats, will last from June 1 to July 21, continuing the trend of adding a few more fishing days each year.

That’s good news, Anderson said, as “we need as many fishing days as we can get, and we know they are plentiful now.”

The bigger change this year will be for the private recreational season. After outrage at how last year’s season was handled, this year NOAA launched a pilot program where each of the five Gulf states will be able to regulate the red snapper fishery in both state and federal waters.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) set a 40-day season that will open June 11 and run through July 21.

With the red snapper season opening, the fisheries of two other popular species — greater amberjack and triggerfish — will close through July 31.

In a press release, FWC said the “seasonal harvest closures help conserve Florida’s valuable greater amberjack and gray triggerfish populations and improve these fisheries for the future.”

Both greater amberjack and triggerfish are anticipated to reopen Aug. 1, but it’s not a definite, as in recent years FWC has made modifications to the season if the spring catch exceeded the total catch allotment for the year.

Source:  Panama City News Herald


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