Snapper Season Extended, But is it What it Seems?
By GDO Staff
A massive push to change the federal season from a historically short three days has paid off – at least for 2017. On Wednesday, June 14, 2017, The Gulf State Fisheries Directors and the Department of Commerce announced the agreement to extend the federal recreational red snapper season through Labor Day.
Anglers may fish in federal waters on Friday, Saturday and Sunday each week until Labor Day, Sept. 4, 2017. State waters will also be open during the same days. The news was welcomed by local and state officials.
In a news release from Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, she wrote: “I am proud to report that President Trump and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross have granted my request to extend the federal red snapper season. The announcement comes after twice last week, once through a letter and once in person while at the White House, I asked President Trump to add to the season. Many thanks are due to the president, Secretary Ross, Congressman Bradley Byrne, Alabama’s congressional delegation and the local Gulf Coast government entities for their fight to increase the length of the red snapper season.”
On June 2, 2017, Governor Ivey sent a letter to President Trump asking him to review the data collected by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and to consider lengthening the red snapper season this year. Governor Ivey specifically requested that the 2017 Gulf of Mexico red snapper private recreational season in federal waters be open for 39 more days than originally provided by the federal agency. She also spoke to the president about her request while attending a summit at the White House on June 8.
Today, the Department of Commerce announced that the federal red snapper season has been extended for a cumulative additional 39 days. Alabama state and federal waters will be open for red snapper harvest every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from June 16 through Sept. 3. The waters will also be open July 3 and 4 and on Labor Day. The announced dates closely mirror those requested by Governor Ivey.
“The red snapper fishery provides a major impact to Alabama’s economy,” she said. “Every day the federal season is open helps businesses in Coastal Alabama. 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.”
“This is an historic collaboration with the Department of Commerce and the five Gulf States to reset the framework of federal red snapper management,” said Chris Blankenship, acting commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. “Secretary Ross and his staff have been very open. This accord is only for the 2017 season, but we are diligently working with our congressional delegation and the Department of Commerce for a long-term fix.”
Although the red snapper season in federal waters has been extended, many anglers believe this extension has created a problem for the future. Many believe that the opening of Federal waters will lead to the annual allowable quota being exceeded, causing a full closure of all Red Snapper fishing in 2018.
Only time will tell how the latest round of legislation changes will affect the Gulf Red Snapper fishery. For now though, the 2017 Snapper Season is saved. We can only wait and see how this affects the Red Snapper season in 2018.
Fishermen are reminded that they are still required to report their red snapper harvest through the Alabama Snapper Check Program. The data collected through the Alabama Snapper Check Program the past three years were critical in securing the additional red snapper fishing days. Only one report is required per vessel trip, and anglers can provide details via a smartphone app available under “Outdoor Alabama” in the iTunes or Google Play app stores, online at www.outdooralabama.com, or by paper forms available at select coastal public boat launches.