The State of Florida Gulf of Mexico red snapper (Lutjanus campechanus) season will be set today at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) meeting today in Havana, Florida. The proposed rule would modify the recreational harvest season for red snapper in all state waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Depending on the final decision, FWC action today could cause the highly controversial red snapper season in federal waters to be further reduced.
Last week, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries announced a year-round season on red snapper in state waters. The announcement was in response to the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council‘s vote to reduce the red snapper season in federal waters from a previously announced 40-day season to an 11-day season. The Council’s move was the result of a federal judge’s ruling in a case where commercial fishers argued federal fisheries managers must hold recreational anglers accountable. The Court found that the commercial red snapper fishery operates under individual quotas and complies, while the recreational fishery consistently exceeds its quota.
In a conference call Friday, Dr. Roy Crabtree, regional administrator for the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Southeast Region, announced the 11-day red snapper season in federal waters may be further reduced based on individual state’s actions. In addition to Louisiana, Texas also has elected to have a year-round red snapper season in state waters. The two other Gulf states, Alabama and Mississippi, have elected to comply with the federal red snapper season. The Florida red snapper season is tentatively set for 24 May through 14 July, but some expect FWC to extend the season today.