The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) last week proposed to change the recreational harvest season for red snapper in Gulf of Mexico state waters. This action is in response to new data that indicates the Gulf red snapper fishing season needs to be shortened to compensate for overharvests in 2008.
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has estimated that recreational fishers in the Gulf exceeded last year's annual red snapper catch limit by approximately 1.2 million pounds. A federal law requires that harvest levels must be reduced in the year following a previous year's overharvest.
Consequently, the NMFS has indicated that it will shorten the recreational red snapper harvest season in Gulf federal waters (beyond 9 nautical miles from shore) from June 1 through Sept. 30 to June 1 through Aug. 14. The FWC is proposing the same season change in state waters.
Red snapper are considered to be overfished and undergoing overfishing in the Gulf. Shortening the fishing season will reduce the harvest of Gulf red snapper and help rebuild the fishery's population.
A final public hearing on this proposed action will take place during the FWC's June meeting in Crystal River.