Alexandria, VA – Last week, NOAA Fisheries announced anglers will have four days to harvest red snapper in the South Atlantic. Anglers will be allowed to harvest one fish per day on July 10, 11, 12 and 17.
“The red snapper fishery is incredibly important to the sportfishing industry and coastal communities throughout the South Atlantic region,” said Kellie Ralston, Southeast Fisheries Policy director for the American Sportfishing Association. “We look forward to working with the Department of Commerce and the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council to expand on this four-day season to provide additional opportunities for anglers as afforded by the best available science.”
Limited South Atlantic red snapper seasons have been allowed in recent years, with nine days in 2017, six days in 2018 and five days in 2019. However, data uncertainty has clouded the most recent stock assessment and complicated management decisions. An updated assessment that incorporates new stock information is expected in the spring of 2021. In the meantime, fishery-independent abundance estimates show substantial increases in the number of red snapper over the last several years, despite allowing harvest.
In addition, NOAA Fisheries has yet to implement the South Atlantic descending device rule (Amendment 29), which was unanimously approved by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council in September 2019.
“While a four-day season is better than the zero or three day season that was initially proposed, we quickly need to develop better management and data collection approaches that will allow anglers more reasonable access to South Atlantic red snapper,” said Ralston. “Anglers are doing their part to reduce discard mortality and are willing to participate in better catch reporting systems. We cannot allow a lack of data to continue to stifle the tremendous economic opportunities that a healthy red snapper fishery can provide to the region.”