Contact: Chris Smith


NOAA Fisheries announces new management measures for the 2000 red snapper season. These measures include: 1) a 4-fish bag limit for all anglers including the captain and crew of for-hire vessels, 2) an increase in the minimum size limit in the recreational fishery to 16 inches, 3) a recreational season that will be open from April 21 through Oct. 31, and 4) a change in the duration of the commercial spring season from the first 15 calendar days of each month to the first 10 calendar days of each month. Commercial fishing during the spring season will begin at noon on the 1st of each month and cease at noon on the 10th of each month until the spring quota is reached. The spring commercial season will begin on Feb. 1.

This interim rule is needed to reduce overfishing while allowing the total allowable catch to be harvested by fair, equitable, and effective means. These changes would reduce overfishing by: (1) increasing the likelihood of compatible closures of state waters during federal closures, thereby improving enforcement of closures of the EEZ recreational red snapper fishery and reducing the harvest from state waters during federal closures; (2) improving compliance with federal regulations by opening the recreational fishery during the time of greatest demand and reducing confusion among anglers by achieving compatible state and federal regulations; and (3) reducing the rate of harvest in the commercial fishery, thus reducing the probability of the commercial fishery exceeding its quota. The reduction in commercial harvest rates should also help maintain price stability and provide economic benefits to the fishery.

These new red snapper measures are based on the recommendations to the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council of a stakeholder conference held in New Orleans, La, on Sept. 27, 1999. Stakeholders' recommendations for the 2000 recreational red snapper fishery included a 4-fish bag limit that would apply to all anglers including the captain and crew of for-hire vessels, a size limit not to exceed 16 inches, and a March 1 to Oct. 31 recreational season.

The Gulf Council attempted, to the extent possible, to implement the stakeholders' recommendations; however, based on the best available scientific information, the harvest from a March 1 to Oct. 31 season would exceed the current recreational quota. The stakeholders' recommendations and testimony presented to the Council indicate that a season from April 21 to Oct. 31 offers the greatest benefits to Gulf anglers and, based upon the best available scientific information, is compatible with the recreational quota.

This and other news releases are available on the SERO homepage. NOAA Fisheries is an agency of the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.