NOAA’s Fisheries Service announced today that recreational red snapper fishing in the Gulf of Mexico will reopen for an added season to allow fishermen to catch the quota they did not reach because a portion of the Gulf was closed due to the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill. Recreational fishing will be allowed on Fridays through Sundays for eight weeks, from Oct. 1 through Nov. 21.
A large portion of the recreational red snapper catch comes from federal waters off Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and the Florida panhandle. When much of this area was closed for the initial June 1 through July 23 recreational red snapper season due to the oil spill, fishermen caught only one third of their 3.4 million pound quota from areas outside the closure.
“We worked closely with the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, fishermen, and the charter and sportfishing industries on this reopening to provide recreational fishermen an opportunity to harvest their full quota this year,” said Eric Schwaab, assistant administrator for NOAA’s Fisheries Service. “This new season will be a boost to recreational fishing and tourism following this unprecedented oil spill event.”
The fishery management council asked NOAA’s Fisheries Service to reopen the recreational red snapper season for the Friday through Sunday schedule after listening to extensive public testimony from fishermen. The Friday through Sunday schedule will allow recreational red snapper fishing to occur later in the year, increasing the opportunity for fishermen to participate.
Since July 22, NOAA has reopened more than 52,000 square miles of Gulf federal waters previously closed due to the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill. Among the next reopening priorities are federal waters located off eastern Louisiana, just west of the Mississippi River delta, which encompass popular recreational red snapper fishing grounds.
This October 1 recreational red snapper reopening does not apply to the Gulf commercial red snapper fishery. It operates under a catch share program where participants in the fishery are assigned individual shares of the 3.5 million pound commercial quota, and they can fish for those shares whenever they want throughout the year.
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