By CAROLINE BECK, Alabama Daily News
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) published a new rule to increase the annual catch limits and annual catch targets for the Red Snapper fishery in the Gulf of Mexico, which will mean a prosperous fishing season for Alabama anglers.
Under this new NOAA rule, the total catch limit for recreational Red Snapper fishing in the Gulf of Mexico would increase from 6.7 million pounds to 7.4 million pounds, a 10.45 percent increase.
Congressman Bradley Byrne, who represents Alabama’s gulf coast in Congress, said celebrated the new ruling and said it shows that coastal states are doing a good job managing the growth of Red Snapper.
“This increase from NOAA shows exactly what those of us on the Gulf Coast have known for years: the health of the Red Snapper fishery is incredibly strong,” Byrne said.
In April of this year, the National Marine Fisheries Service approved Alabama’s application for an extended fishing permit for the state to manage its own Red Snapper Fishing season.
Sen. Richard Shelby played a key role in winning that flexibility for the state through language in the Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations bill while he chaired that subcommittee. He said at the time he was “confident that Alabama’s state-led pilot program will provide our recreational fisherman with much-needed, long-overdue relief and result in more days on the water.”
Byrne said that has proven to be true, Byrne said.
“These latest numbers will further drive us to continue fighting for greater state control over the Red Snapper fishery and a full and adequate Red Snapper fishing season,” Byrne said.
The extended time period for fishing established this summer also applies to 2019. That means fishermen can not only fish from June 1 through September 3 and the entire week of the Fourth of July, but they can keep more of what they catch due to increased limits.
Red Snapper is one of the most popular species for deep sea fishing off the coast of Alabama. They have a solid red body color and have sharp armored gills and can bite those who try to lip them, hence the “snapper” part of the name.
They can weigh anywhere from 1 to 30 pounds and their average size is about 18 to 20 inches. Alabama’s artificial reefs have enabled them to grow in the Gulf, but Red Snapper have also been rebounding in natural reefs in depths of 200 to 300 feet.
Caroline Beck is a reporter based in Montgomery, Ala. You can reach her at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @CarolineBeckADN.