Red Snapper Season in Jeopardy

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BAY COUNTY - Local fisherman are worried there may not be a snapper season this year or next.

The concerns come after a federal court ruled the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has the authorities to close off federal waters.

"Recreational angling in Florida is a billion dollar industry with over 3 million participants," said Pam Anderson, Captain Anderson's Marina Manager.

However, commercial and recreational fisherman have been facing increasingly tougher catch limits for years.

Two of the more popular species, snapper and grouper, are also two of the most heavily restricted.

Fisherman are often caught between conflicting state and federal regulations.

Now a federal judge is giving the NOAA the authority to prohibit snapper catches in federal water for the 2014 season and possibly 2015 season.

"I personally think it will shut down the charter industry or put a huge dent in it," said Brandon Postle, Local Charter Fisherman.

Now commercial fishermen are joining the Environmental Defense Fund to challenge the National Marine Fisheries Service, which originally gave NOAA that authority.

"They are saying the NOAA fisheries are managing the fisheries incorrectly. They want that to change, but they also want to get payback for what they believe that that they've lost in this mismanagement," Anderson said.

The fishing industry also claims the feds are underestimating the snapper population, which is how they set catch limits.

They're urging everyone to contact the Gulf Council to prevent the cancellation of snapper season.

Anderson admits fishermen will have the loudest voice.

"If they fish in the gulf even if they catch one fish a year they are a stakeholder in this so they do have a say and they should have a say. So we want them to step up and let folks know what they think of all this," she said.

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council will meet next week to discuss the length of the fishing season.

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