26 days... That's how long local fishermen will be able to catch red snapper in federal waters this year.
Anderson Seafood Market worker Robert Anderson says, "It's a real touchy subject with them. They don't like to talk about it a lot."
Fishing in state waters is approved for 44 days, but charter boat operators aren't included in that. A federal Red Snapper Fishery Management Plan Amendment prohibits them from fishing for snapper in state waters when the federal season is closed.
Charterboat Fisherman David Bright says, "It affects us as far as the economy. These people not wanting to go charter fishing, you know, like they used to because everything 's based around the fish."
Anderson says, "They're struggling to make boat payments and whatnot just like everyone else and when you shorten their season like that, they make the bulk of their money during snapper season for the whole year so it is going to affect them quite a bit."
There's still controversy over just how many red snapper there is in the gulf, but now that the fishing industry is facing a much shorter season, they're just trying to keep their head above water.
Anderson says, "Last year our average size was ranging from 12 to 15 pounds. Now we're limited to just a few fish this year so we really don't know what to expect."
Bright says, "It's in your blood, you know, you get fishing in your blood and you get up every day and that's who you are and that's what you do even if uncle sam tells us we can't catch everything that we used to catch. We still go out there and abide by the laws and catch what we can."
There have been years in the past when snapper season has gone from march to October. This year, Federal waters will close their fishing season on July 14th.