County commission wants longer red snapper season

Votes unanimously to send letter to feds

By Cliff McCollum
Posted 5/18/17

The Baldwin County Commission recently unanimously passed a resolution asking federal officials to consider extending what they called a “ridiculously short” red snapper season.

Commission …

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County commission wants longer red snapper season

Votes unanimously to send letter to feds

Posted

The Baldwin County Commission recently unanimously passed a resolution asking federal officials to consider extending what they called a “ridiculously short” red snapper season.

Commission Chairman Chris Elliott said the resolution favored an additional 13 three-day weekend allocation for additional time to allow recreational fishermen to catch red snapper, similar to the requests sent by letter from Orange Beach city officials and Congressman Bradley Byrne. Federal officials recently came down with a decision that granted a three day season for recreational fishermen.

Elliott said the decision was not only frustrating for fishermen but it also called into question the area’s continued investment in building the reefs the fish call home.

“We’ve spent large amounts of money developing artificial reefs in the Gulf,” Elliott said. “When we limit the season like this, not only do we discourage fishermen, we discourage private investment in continuing to grow habitats out there for these fish.”

Commissioner Tucker Dorsey said he and Elliott were recently part of a delegation that travelled to Washington DC to speak with the acting NOAA administrator on the issue, but said he felt the federal government was continuing to ignore overwhelming evidence that the shorter seasons were not actually necessary.

“I don’t think anyone in Baldwin County thinks a three day season is good,” Dorsey said. “You can’t land a hook without catching a snapper in the Gulf in Alabama, so clearly something is off with their data. It’s nothing but asinine that we have a three day season.”

Dorsey said he was concerned about possible overpopulation because of the decision.

“My opinion is there certainly aren’t enough hooks out there catching fish,” Dorsey said. “If we continue to let the snapper population go unmanaged, it’s going to be harmful to other species that live on those reef systems as well.”

Commissioner Skip Gruber took issue with the way federal data was being gathered.

“They’re going to where there are no reefs,” Gruber said. “That’s where you catch the fish at, so it’s crazy they don’t look at that. They’re letting hooks in areas where you aren’t going to catch them.”