FWC Approves 44 Day Recreational Red Snapper Season in State Waters

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission approved a 44-day recreational red snapper season for Gulf of Mexico state waters at its meeting Wednesday in Tallahassee. State waters are from shore to 9 nautical miles in Gulf waters.

This season will start June 1 and end July 14. It is inconsistent with the current proposed federal season.

Federal fishery managers recently passed a rule that grants NOAA Fisheries the authority to shorten the federal recreational red snapper season off states that adopt inconsistent red snapper regulations. The current estimate of the recreational red snapper season is 21 days in federal waters off the Gulf coast of Florida.

While the federal limit for how many pounds of red snapper can be caught has increased, the season length has gotten shorter over the past few years because of more fishing effort and larger fish, according to federal fishery managers.

The Commission chose to go inconsistent based on reports that the upcoming federal stock assessment would likely show red snapper populations are doing better than previously thought and reports from anglers that the fishery is improving.

Congressman Steve Southerland responded to the approval saying “I applaud Florida’s FWC for standing tall in defense of our fishermen. As federal red snapper seasons have gotten progressively shorter, more and more fishermen are being forced off the water and out of business. Today’s FWC decision proves that our state leaders have a better understanding of our fisheries’ challenges and opportunities than Washington ever will.”