The Department of Commerce announced Wednesday that Red Snapper fishing will be open in federal waters for recreational fishermen every weekend between now and Labor Day, resulting in a 39-day …
The Department of Commerce announced Wednesday that Red Snapper fishing will be open in federal waters for recreational fishermen every weekend between now and Labor Day, resulting in a 39-day season. This will include Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, as well as July 3 and 4 and Labor Day.
In order to facilitate the emergency extension, state Red Snapper seasons have now been brought in line with the new federal season for recreational anglers. The “for-hire” or charter boat season will remain 49 days, as it runs through July 19.
Congressman Bradley Byrne said Chris Blankenship at the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources was instrumental getting all the Gulf states on board with the extension.
“This extension is huge for the 2017 season, but we must continue working for a long-term solution to the Red Snapper issues that gives more control to the individual Gulf states,” Byrne said.
Not everyone was as thrilled about the extension as most islanders. The Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance said it supports increasing access and improving management for private anglers, but that it must be done in a sustainable and accountable manner.
“(The) decision by the U.S. Commerce Department admits that it ‘will necessarily mean that the private recreational sector will substantially exceed its annual catch limit’ and that ‘this approach may delay the ultimate rebuilding of the stock by as many as six years,’” the organization said in a prepared statement. “We have strong concerns about an action that will harm fish stocks, our fishing businesses and the millions of American seafood consumers we serve.”
While controversy still rages about the manner of collecting stock numbers and how this will effect the population of red snapper and other fish in Gulf waters, the decision has garnered praise from all over, including the governor’s office.
“The red snapper fishery provides a major impact to Alabama’s economy. Every day the federal season is open helps businesses in Coastal Alabama,” Governor Kay Ivey said. “The people of Alabama are indebted to Acting Conservation Commissioner Chris Blankenship; without his efforts, this announcement would not have been made today. He and his staff have worked for many years to gather data and build coalitions to properly manage this fishery.”