Some fishermen feel they are limited by regulations put in place when red snapper were determined over-fished.
CORPUS CHRISTI -
Fisheries directors from Texas and four other gulf states have been meeting with federal decision makers to decide whether or not to extend the 2017 red snapper fishing season for recreational anglers, which began June 1 and ended June 3. It lasted three days.
If extended, the longer federal season would open up more weekends this summer for recreational fishermen to pursue red snapper in the deeper, often more plentiful federal waters – which begin nine miles from the shoreline. On the other hand, it may also threaten year-round access to fishing for red snapper in state waters off Texas.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration allotted only three days this year for recreational anglers to fish in federal waters within the Gulf of Mexico. According to Captain Scott Hickman, who operates a charter boat in the Texas gulf, the short season is the result of high harvesting in Florida, which impacts the regulations placed on anglers in other states.
Hickman - who is currently attending the Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council meeting in Naples, Florida - said the directors have been discussing several options for extending the season.
But there’s a catch...
Each proposal, if adopted, would reduce or eliminate fishing for red snapper in state waters. Hickman said his understanding of the proposals under discussion are as follows:
- A 27-day season in federal and state waters starting June 17 and ending on Sept. 4 with fishing allowed on Saturdays and Sundays, as well as Monday, July 3 and Tuesday, July 4. Recreational red snapper fishing in both state and federal waters would be closed under this scenario Monday through Friday each week this summer.
- A 39-day season in federal and state waters starting Friday, June 16 and ending on Sept. 4, with fishing allowed on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, as well as Monday, July 3 and Tuesday, July 4. Under this scenario, recreational red snapper fishing in both state and federal waters would be closed this summer Monday through Thursday of each week.
With a 27-day season this summer, fall fishing in state waters could potentially happen. However, if the 39-day option is ultimately selected, there would be no state red snapper season in the fall.
Currently, Texans can fish for red snapper in state waters 365 days per year. Hickman said he expects the directors to reach a decision by the end of the week.