Alabama’s red snapper anglers allotted nearly 50 days of fishing under new permit
The state of Alabama announced last week that it received federal approval for an Exempted Fishing Permit to manage recreational red snapper.
As a result, anglers in the state will have nearly 50 days of fishing starting 1 June. The state also will manage the recreational season for next year as well.
“I am very pleased that the U.S. Department of Commerce, through the National Marine Fisheries Service, has granted Alabama an Exempted Fishing Permit for the next two red snapper seasons,” Gov. Kay Ivey said in a news release. “Following the directives from President Trump to cut down on federal regulations, this decision empowers Alabama to manage our resources instead of bureaucrats in Washington. Due to this exemption, I have instructed the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to set the 2018 season to 47 days. This season will allow recreational anglers five more days to fish for red snapper compared to last year. I am proud we have been able to expand the red snapper season, which is a critical part of Alabama’s recreation and tourism industry.”
State and federal waters will be open Fridays through Sundays beginning in June. Additional days were added around the 4 July holiday. The season is set to conclude on Labor Day, 2 September.
Each angler will be allowed to catch two fish, with each fish needing to be at least 16 inches in length.
The recreational charter season was not included in Ivey’s announcement. State officials expect NOAA Fisheries to announce that season later this month.
The expanded season comes as officials in the state have seen a rise in the number of red snapper landings by charter vessels and private anglers. Those officials cite artificial reefs as a major reason for the uptick. There are reefs currently across more than 1,060 square miles of both state and federal waters off the Alabama coasts.
In 2014, the state recorded 439,620 pounds of red snapper harvested during the federal and state seasons. By 2016, that total jumped to nearly 1.6 million.
Ivey said the red snapper fishery is important to the state’s economy. She also credited U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) for getting language in a fiscal year 2017 spending bill to include a fishery management pilot program that allows states to manage reef fish activities.
“The red snapper management granted by the EFP will allow Alabama to use the information from the Alabama Snapper Check Program, as well as the terabytes of fisheries data we have collected on the red snapper population in the Alabama Artificial Reef Zones, to show we can sustainably manage this fishery,” said Chris Blankenship, Commissioner of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. “I would like to thank Marine Resources Division Director Scott Bannon and Chief Biologist Kevin Anson for shepherding the permit request through the regulatory process.”