It’s time to grab your gear and hit the coast, Alabama anglers. Red Snapper season is officially here.
As the Red Snapper Capital of the World, Alabama provides some of the best Red Snapper fishing you’ll ever find. This summer, Red Snapper season will open June 1 and run through 12:01am on July 29. A daily limit of two fish (16 inches or longer) will be in place as well.
Despite anglers and charter boat captains along Alabama’s coast claiming that they’re seeing more Red Snapper now than they have in years, federal restrictions are put in place to maintain the population. Stipulations in the Magnuson-Stevens Act, a federal law that governs fisheries management in coastal states, have caused Alabama’s Red Snapper season to be limited to just under five weeks.
According to Chris Blankenship, director of Alabama Marine Resources and program administrator for the Alabama Seafood Marketing Commission, the NMFS quota is a poundage measurement. Recent population recovery efforts have allowed Red Snapper on Alabama’s coast to grow from a three-pound average to an eight-pound average.
“The larger the fish, the less of them it takes to meet the annual quota,” said Blankenship. “The recovery has been remarkable. Now it’s time for the quota to be increased to account for this rapidly recovering stock.”
According to Blankenship, Alabama is currently working with other Gulf states and the Gulf Council to lengthen future seasons by making substantial changes to the management of the species.
While this year’s season is shorter than usual, there is good news for Alabama’s anglers. The latest stock assessment won’t be available until the first week of June, but Red Snapper was recently removed from the “overfishing” category.
This could lead to an extension of or an addition to the current season.
Last year’s Red Snapper season, which also began on June 1, was originally scheduled to end at midnight on July 10 before being extended an additional six days due to bad weather and lower than expected fishing numbers.
NMFS Southeast Regional Office Director Roy Crabtree recently said in an AL.com article that, if the stock assessment is a positive one—and if recreational anglers don’t exceed their seasonal quota—a shorter, second Red Snapper season could open as early as mid-July.
“It would be great to possibly have a supplemental season after the stock assessment is completed,” said Blankenship. “Any day we have Red Snapper season open in Alabama, it adds millions of dollars to the local economy.”
This article was updated June 6, 2013. The ASMC has confirmed that Red Snapper Season was shortened to the original seasonal length of 28 days. The new season will end at 12:01 a.m. on June 29. This article posted on May 31, 2013 and previously stated that the season would end at 12:01 a.m. on July 5.