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Red Snapper Regulation News



SEPTEMBER UPDATE - COMMERCIAL RED SNAPPER PRELIMINARY 2003 SPRING SEASON LANDINGS

Updated September 5, 2003 - NOAA Fisheries has announced the preliminary landings estimates for the spring Gulf of Mexico red snapper commercial fishery for the Spring 2003 commercial fishing season (February through August).  Preliminary landings data total 3,007,843 pounds of red snapper landed. A total of 92,157 pounds remain in the spring quota.  This remaining poundage from the Spring quota will be applied to the Fall quota. Therefore, a total of 1,642,157 pounds of red snapper will be available when the Fall commercial red snapper season opens.  The commercial fishery was closed at noon, local time. August 7, 2003, and will reopen at noon, local time, October 1, 2003.  

The following preliminary landings to date have been provided by the NMFS Southeast Fisheries Science Center. All landings have been converted to whole weight.

2003 Spring Commercial Red Snapper Season
Reporting Period Texas AL/MS/LA Florida Total
Spring Total to Date
- February 1-10
- March 1-10
- April 1-10
- May 1-10
- June 1-10
- July 1-10
- August 1-7
1,279,252 1,266,970 461,621 3,007,843

The commercial red snapper fishery has a 4.65 million pound annual quota (unchanged since 1996).  This quota is divided into two seasons.  The Spring season opens on February 1, from noon on the 1st until noon on 10th of each month until the Spring sub-quota of 3.10 million pounds has been harvested.  The Fall commercial season opens on October 1, under the same rules, with the remainder of the annual quota (1.55 million pounds, which is adjusted for any over or under harvest in the Spring).  

Vessels must have both a Reef Fish Vessel Permit (issuance of new permits is currently under a moratorium) and a limited access Red Snapper License to commercially harvest red snapper.  Vessels with a Class 1 Red Snapper License are allowed a trip limit of 2,000 pounds per trip, vessels with a Class 2 Red Snapper License are allowed a trip limit of 200 pounds per trip.  No more than one trip limit can be landed per day.   

The recreational red snapper fishery operates under a 4.47 million pound quota (unchanged since 1996).  The recreational red snapper season is open continuously from April 21 through October 31, based on NMFS projections that this is the amount of time in which the recreational quota will be filled under a 4-fish bag limit and 16 inch total length minimum size limit.


REMINDER: RED SNAPPER RECREATIONAL SEASON CLOSES AT END OF OCTOBER

Posted October 23, 2002 - This is to remind interested parties that the Gulf of Mexico red snapper recreational season closes at 12:01 a.m., local time, November 1, 2002, when the recreational quota of 4.47 million pounds is projected to be caught.  The recreational fishery will reopen at 12:01 a.m., local time, April 21, 2003, with a 4.47 million pound quota, a 16-inch total length minimum size limit, and a 4-fish bag limit.  During the closed season (November 1, 2002 - April 22, 2003), the bag and possession limit for red snapper in or from Gulf of Mexico federal waters is zero. 

COMMERCIAL RED SNAPPER FALL SEASON LANDINGS THROUGH OCTOBER

Updated October 23, 2002 - NOAA Fisheries has announced the preliminary landings estimates for the spring Gulf of Mexico red snapper commercial fishery for the Spring season (February 1 through August 7, 2002), and for the first monthly opening of the Fall season (October 1-10, 2002).  Total commercial landings for the year through October 10, 2002 are estimated to be 3,608,556 pounds, of which 3,240,274 pounds were landed in the Spring season and 368,282 pounds have been landed in the Fall season to date.  There are 1,041,444 pounds remaining in the quota.  Therefore, the Fall commercial red snapper season will reopen at noon, local time, on November 1, 2002, and will close at noon, local time, on November 10, 2002.  

The following preliminary landings to date have been provided by the NMFS Southeast Fisheries Science Center.  All landings have been converted to whole weight.

2002 Spring Commercial Red Snapper Season
Reporting Period Texas AL/MS/LA Florida Total
February 1-10 214,506 336,393 98,595 649,494
March 1-10 162,956 287,128 78,432 528,516
April 1-10 187,538 257,766 95,424 540,728
May 1-10 177,841 252,075 95,442 525,358
June 1-10 138,962 246,361 103,731 489,054
July 1-7  64,253 129,042 37,647 230,942
August 1-7 81,252 148,543 46,385 276,182
Spring Sub-Total 1,027,310 1,657,308 555,656 3,240,274
2002 Fall Commercial Red Snapper Season
Reporting Period Texas AL/MS/LA Florida Total
October 1-10 98,160 196,351 73,771 368,282
Fall Sub-Total 98,160 196,351 73,771 368,282
      2002 Total      1,125,470 1,853,659 629,427 3,608,556

The commercial red snapper fishery has a 4.65 million pound annual quota (unchanged since 1996).  This quota is divided into two seasons.  The Spring season opens on February 1, from noon on the 1st until noon on 10th of each month until the Spring sub-quota of 3.10 million pounds has been harvested.  The Fall commercial season opens on October 1, under the same rules, with a sub-quota of 1.55 million pounds (adjusted for any over or under harvest in the Spring).  For the 2002 Fall season, the adjusted sub-quota is 1,409,726 pounds.

Vessels must have both a Reef Fish Vessel Permit (issuance of new permits is currently under a moratorium) and a limited access Red Snapper License to commercially harvest red snapper.  Vessels with a Class 1 Red Snapper License are allowed a trip limit of 2,000 pounds per trip, vessels with a Class 2 Red Snapper License are allowed a trip limit of 200 pounds per trip.  No more than one trip limit can be landed per day.   

COMMERCIAL RED SNAPPER FALL SEASON TO OPEN OCTOBER 1 ON AN ADJUSTED QUOTA

Posted September 20, 2002 - The National Marine Fisheries Service announces that the commercial fishery for red snapper in Gulf of Mexico Federal waters will open at noon, local time, on October 1, 2002, and close at noon, local time, on October 10, 2002. The 2002 Gulf of Mexico commercial red snapper quota is 4.65-million pounds. The commercial fishing season is divided into spring and fall seasons. The spring season began at noon, local time, on February 1, under a 3.10 million pound sub-quota, and the fall season begins at noon, local time, on October 1, with the remainder of the annual quota (1.55 million pounds), adjusted by any over or under harvest of the spring sub-quota.  During the spring and fall seasons fishing will be allowed from noon on the 1st until noon on the 10th of each month until the quota is caught. Preliminary landings for the 2002 spring season indicated that 3,240,274 pounds of red snapper were landed, which was 140,274 pounds above the spring sub-quota. Therefore, the 2002 fall sub-quota has been adjusted to 1,409,726 pounds.

The operator of a vessel with a valid reef fish permit and a Class 1 or Class 2 red snapper license having red snapper aboard must have landed and sold his catch of red snapper before noon, local time, on October 10, 2002. The minimum size limit for the commercial fishery is 15 inches total length.  Vessels without either a Class 1 or Class 2 red snapper permit are restricted to the recreational bag limit (4 fish per person)  and minimum size limit (16 inches total length), and are not allowed to sell their red snapper catch.

COMMERCIAL RED SNAPPER SEASON TO REOPEN IN AUGUST FOR 7 DAYS 

Updated July 17, 2002 - NOAA Fisheries had previously announced the closure of the commercial red snapper fishery as of noon July 7, 2002, until noon October 1, 2002, based on the projection that the spring quota would be reached as of July 7, 2002.

However, due to severe weather in the western Gulf of Mexico and the 4th of July holiday, the quota was not reached.  Through July, an estimated 2,825,212 pound of red snapper were landed, leaving 274,788 pounds remaining in the 3.10 million pound spring sub-quota.  Therefore, the fishery will reopen at noon, local time, August 1, 2002, and close at noon, local time, August 7, 2002. The commercial fishery will then remain closed until noon October 1, 2002.  This will be the first time since 1991 that the commercial red snapper fishery has been open in August.

The commercial red snapper is divided into two seasons.  The Spring fishery is open, beginning in February, from noon on the 1st until noon on 10th of each month until the Spring sub-quota of 3.10 million pounds has been harvested.  The Fall commercial season opens on October 1, under the same rules, with a sub-quota of 1.55 million pounds (adjusted for any over or under harvest in the Spring).

The following preliminary landings to date have been provided by the NMFS Southeast Fisheries Science Center.  All landings have been converted to whole weight.

Reporting Period Texas AL/MS/LA Florida Total
February 1-10 214,506 336,393 98,595 649,494
March 1-10 162,956 287,128 78,432 528,516
April 1-10 187,538 257,766 95,424 540,728
May 1-10 177,841 252,075 95,442 525,358
June 1-10 138,962 246,361 103,731 489,054
July 1-7 2,171 52,244 37,647 92,062
Total 883,974 1,431,967 509,271 2,825,212

Total commercial landings through July 7, 2002 are estimated to be 2,825,212 pounds, which is about 6% less (186,400 pounds less) than landings during the same period in 2001. (In 2001, the Spring season ran until July 6.)

The total commercial quota for 2002 (Spring and Fall seasons combined) is 4.65 million pounds. This quota has remained unchanged since 1996.  Vessels must have both a Reef Fish Vessel Permit (issuance of new permits is currently under a moratorium) and a limited access Red Snapper License to commercially harvest red snapper.  Vessels with a Class 1 Red Snapper License are allowed a trip limit of 2,000 pounds per trip, vessels with a Class 2 Red Snapper License are allowed a trip limit of 200 pounds per trip.  No more than one trip limit can be landed per day.   


COMMERCIAL RED SNAPPER LANDINGS DATA FOR 2002 SPRING QUOTA

February 25, 2002 - The commercial red snapper Spring fishery opened at noon on February 1 and had its first monthly closure at noon on February 10.  The commercial season will continue to open from noon on the first until noon on the tenth of each month until the Spring sub-quota of 3.10 million pounds has been harvested.  At that point it will close until October 1, when it will reopen under a sub-quota of 1.55 million pounds (adjusted for any over or under harvest in the Spring).

The following preliminary landings to date have been provided by the NMFS Southeast Fisheries Science Center.  All landings have been converted to whole weight.

Reporting Period Texas AL/MS/LA Florida Total
February 1-10 214,506 336,393 98,595 649,494
Total 214,506 336,393 98,595 649,494

Total commercial landings through February 10, 2002 are estimated to be 649,494 pounds, which is about 12% less than landings during the same period in 2001.

The total commercial quota for 2002 (Spring and Fall seasons combined) is 4.65 million pounds. This quota has remained unchanged since 1996.  Vessels must have both a Reef Fish Vessel Permit (issuance of new permits is currently under a moratorium) and a limited access Red Snapper License to commercially harvest red snapper.  Vessels with a Class 1 Red Snapper License are allowed a trip limit of 2,000 pounds per trip, vessels with a Class 2 Red Snapper License are allowed a trip limit of 200 pounds per trip.  No more than one trip limit can be landed per day.   

REMINDER ABOUT RED SNAPPER SEASON OPENINGS AND GROUPER SEASON CLOSING

(posted January 29, 2002) - The commercial red snapper Spring season opens at noon, local time, February 1, 2002, and will be open from noon on the first until noon on the tenth of each month until the commercial Spring quota of 3.10 million pounds has been reached.  At that point the commercial red snapper season will close until noon on October 1, 2002, when it will reopen under the same monthly open periods until the Fall quota of 1.55 million pounds (adjusted for any over or under-harvest of the Spring quota) is reached. The minimum size limit for commercial harvest is 15 inches total length.  Vessels with a Class 1 red snapper license and a commercial reef fish vessel permit are allowed a 2,000 trip limit of red snapper, and vessels with a Class 2 red snapper license and a commercial reef fish vessel are allowed a 200 pound trip limit.  No more than one trip limit per day per vessel is allowed.  Vessels without both a red snapper license and a commercial reef fish vessel permit may only harvest red snapper under the recreational bag and size limits (and only when the recreational season is open) and may not sell their red snapper catch.

The recreational red snapper season will open at 12:01 a.m. on April 21, 2002 and will remain open through October 31, 2002, when the recreational quota of 4.47 million pounds is projected to be caught.  The minimum size limit for recreational harvest is 16 inches total length, and the bag and possession limit on federal waters is 4 red snapper per person, except that persons aboard Coast Guard qualified charter vessels that are out over 24 hours are allowed a 2-day bag limit.

The commercial harvest of red grouper, black grouper and gag closes from 12:01 a.m. on February 15, 2002 until 12:01 a.m. on March 15, 2002.  During this one-month closed season, vessels with a commercial reef fish vessel permit are prohibited from selling or possessing any quantity of these three grouper species (including a prohibition on recreational bag limits).  Commercial vessels may continue to fish for other grouper species during this period.

These rules are unchanged from last year.


TEXAS SHRIMP ASSOCIATION PETITIONS FOR EMERGENCY RULE TO REDUCE OF RED SNAPPER TAC TO 3 MILLION POUNDS

(NMFS Bulletin - April 24, 2001) -The Texas Shrimp Association (TSA) has petitioned the U.S. Department of Commerce to promulgate an emergency rule to reduce the 2001 total allowable catch (TAC) in the directed commercial and recreational fisheries for red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico from 9.12 million pounds to no more than 3 million pounds. The petition filed by TSA maintains that overfishing has been occurring in the Gulf of Mexico red snapper fishery and will occur again in 2001, thereby necessitating emergency rulemaking to reduce the 2001 TAC for the directed fishery. Included in the requested emergency action for TAC reduction is a request to shorten the recreational fishing season (currently April 21-October 31, 2001). The petition was published in the Federal Register on April 19, 2001 (Vol. 66, No. 76).

NMFS will consider public comments and other relevant information in determining whether to grant the petition filed by TSA. Written comments (no e-mail) will be accepted through May 21, 2001. Copies of the petition are available, and written comments on the need for such a regulation, its objectives, alternative approaches, and any other comments may be addressed to Phil Steele, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 9721 Executive Center Drive N., St. Petersburg, Fl 33702.

Click here for more information...


PRELIMINARY RED SNAPPER COMMERCIAL LANDINGS DATA FOR 2001 SPRING QUOTA

(updated April 24, 2001) - The National Marine Fisheries Service has provided the following preliminary landings estimates for the spring Gulf red snapper commercial fishery for the period February 1, 2001 through April 10, 2001, and has announced that the commercial fishery for May will open at noon, May 1, 2001, and will close at noon, May 10, 2001. All landings have been converted to whole weight.

 

Reporting Period Texas AL/MS/LA Florida Total
February 1-10 178,346 493,028 68,261 739,635
March 1-10 232,127 398,871 26,027 657,025
April 1-10 199,687 336,923 75,961 612,571
Total Spring 610,160 1,228,822 170,249 2,009,231

During the same period in 2000, 2,588,759 pounds of red snapper were landed. The 2001 commercial red snapper commercial remains unchanged at 4.65 million pounds, subdivided into 3.10 million pounds under a February 1 opening, and 1.65 million pounds (or the remaining quota) under an October 1 opening. The commercial fishery is open the first 10 days of each month (noon on the 1st to noon on the 10th) until each sub-quota is reached. Commercial red snapper vessels must have landed and sold their red snapper catch prior to each monthly close.


PRELIMINARY RED SNAPPER COMMERCIAL LANDINGS DATA FOR 2001 SPRING QUOTA

(posted March 1, 2001) - The National Marine Fisheries Service has provided the following preliminary landings estimates for the spring Gulf red snapper commercial fishery for the period February 1, 2001 through February 10, 2001. All landings have been converted to whole weight.

 

Reporting Period Texas AL/MS/LA Florida Total
February 1-10 178,346 493,028 68,261 739,635
Total Spring 178,346 493,038 68,261 739,365

During the same period in 2000, 1,070,917 pounds of red snapper were landed. The 2001 commercial red snapper commercial remains unchanged at 4.65 million pounds, subdivided into 3.10 million pounds under a February 1 opening, and 1.65 million pounds (or the remaining quota) under an October 1 opening. The commercial fishery is open the first 10 days of each month (noon on the 1st to noon on the 10th) until each sub-quota is reached. Commercial red snapper vessels must have landed and sold their red snapper catch prior to each monthly close.

FALL 2000 COMMERCIAL RED SNAPPER LANDINGS - NOVEMBER UPDATE

(updated November 21, 2000) - The commercial red snapper Fall fishery is open from noon on the 1st to noon on the 10th of each month beginning in October, until the date that the quota is reached. The NMFS Southeast Fisheries Science Center has provided the following preliminary landings estimates for the Fall fishery for the October and November periods. All landings are prliminary, and have been converted to whole weight pounds.

Reporting Period Texas AL/MS/LA Florida Total
October 1-10 129,077 395,858 52,470 577,405
November 1-10 179,188 362,145 54,046 595,309
Total Fall 308,195 758,003 106,516 1,172,714

The total commercial quota for 2000 (Spring and Fall seasons combined) is 4.65 million pounds. During Spring season, an estimated 3.01 million pounds were hrvested, leaving a Fall sub-quota of 1.64 million pounds. The amount harvested to date during the Fall season represents 72% of the Fall sub-quota.

Total commercial landings (including Spring season catches) through November 10, 2000 are estimated to be 4.19 million pounds (90% of total quota). This leaves 463,487 pounds for the remainder of the Fall commercial season. The season will reopen at noon on December 1 and remain open through noon on December 8 (not the 10th), 2000. This is the date when NMFS projects that the commercial quota will be reached. The commercial red snapper seaon will then remain closed until noon on February 1, 2001. The operator of a vessel with a valid reef fish permit having red snapper aboard must have landed and sold such red snapper prior to noon, local time, December 8, 2000.


REMINDER - RED SNAPPER RECREATIONAL SEASON CLOSES AFTER OCTOBER 31, 2000

(posted October 27, 2000) - This is to remind interested parties that the Gulf of Mexico red snapper recreational season closes after October 31, 2000 (12:01 am on November 1, 2000). NMFS has projected that, with the April 21, 2000 opening date, 16-inch recreational minimum size limit, and 4-fish bag limit, the 4.47 million pound recreational quota will have been taken by this date. The recreational fishery will reopen on April 21, 2001. During the closure, the recreational bag and possession limit for red snapper in or from federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico is zero.

Under Section 407(d) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, NMFS is required to establish separate quotas for recreational and commercial fishing for Gulf of Mexico red snapper that, when reached, result in a prohibition on the retentian of red snapper caught during recreational and commercial fishing, respecitvely, for the remainder of the fishing year. To facilitate the recreational quota mandate, the Gulf Council and NMFS established a single annual recreational red snapper season that runs from April 21 through October 31, based on projected harvest rates during that period. The commercial red snapper quota is managed under a split season, with two thirds of the commercial quota allocated to a February 1 opening, and the remaining quota allocated to an October 1 opening. In addition, the commercial fishery operates under a limited entry system, and the season is only open from noon on the 1st to noon on the 10th of each month until each seasonal allocation is met.

 

PRELIMINARY FALL 2000 COMMERCIAL RED SNAPPER LANDINGS

(posted October 27, 2000) - The commercial red snapper Fall fishery opened on October 1, and will be open from noon on the 1st to noon on the 10th of each month until the quota is reached. The NMFS Southeast Fisheries Science Center has provided the following preliminary landings estimates for the Fall fishery for the October period. All landings have been converted to whole weight pounds.

Reporting Period Texas AL/MS/LA Florida Total
October 1-10 129,007 395,858 52,470 577,405
Total Fall 129,007 395,858 52,470 577,405

The total commercial quota for 2000 (Spring and Fall seasons combined) is 4.65 million pounds. During Spring season, an estimated 3.01 million pounds were hrvested, leaving a Fall sub-quota of 1.64 million pounds. The amount harvested to date during the Fall season represents 35% of the Fall sub-quota.

Total commercial landings (including Spring season catches) through October 10, 2000 are estimated to be 3.59 million pounds (77% of total quota). This leaves 1.06 million pounds for the remainder of the Fall commercial season. The season will reopen at noon on November 1 and remain open through noon on November 10, 2000. NMFS will inform fishermen about the remaining quota for December as soon as information becomes available.



COMMERCIAL RED SNAPPER 2000 LANDINGS TO DATE
(updated April 17, 2000) - The Southeast Fisheries Science Center of the National Marine Fisheries Service has provided the following preliminary commercial landings estimates for Gulf of Mexico red snapper for the season that started February 1, 2000 under a 3.06 million pound Spring sub-quota (out of a total 4.65 million pound annual commercial quota). The commercial red snapper season is open from noon on the first until noon on the tenth of each month or until the Spring sub-quota is filled. All landings have been converted to whole weight. The period covered is February 1 through April 10, 2000.
Red Snapper 2000 Commercial Landings
Time Period Texas LA, MS & AL Florida Weekly
Total
Feb. 1 - Feb. 10 284,636 710,422 75,859 1,070,917
Mar. 1 - Mar. 10 230,310 617,276 64,772 912,358
April 1 - April 10 181,312 359,303 64,869 605,484

Total

696,258

1,687,001

205,500

2,588,759

There are 471,241 pounds left in the spring sub-quota. Based on the remaining sub-quota available for harvest, the commercial red snapper season will reopen at noon on May 1, 2000 and will close at noon on May 8, 2000. All fish should be landed at that time.

After May 8, 2000, the commercial red snapper fishery will remain closed until the Fall sub-season opens on September 1, 2000 (or October 1, 2000 if a change proposed by the Council is approved by NMFS). The Fall sub-quota is 1.59 million pounds, adjusted for any over or under harvest of the Spring sub-quota.


NEW RED SNAPPER FISHING REGULATIONS APPROVED FOR 2000
(posted - December 15, 1999) - An interim rule requested by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council has been approved by NMFS to modify the red snapper recreational and commercial fishing regulations for the 2000 fishing year. The measures which will be in effect for the 2000 red snapper season include: retain the status quo 9.12 million pound total allowable catch (with a 4.47 million pound recreational quota and a 4.65 million pound commercial quota) a 4-fish bag limit for all anglers including the captain and crew of recreational for-hire vessels an increase in the recreational minimum size limit from 15 to 16 inches total length (the commercial minimum size limit will remain at 15 inches, but see below for changes to the commercial regulations) the 2000 recreational season will be open from April 21 through October 31 monthly openings for the commercial red snapper fishery during the sub-season that opens on February 1 will be shortened to last from noon on the 1st to noon on the 10th (instead of the 15th) The April 21 through October 31 recreational season is the time projected by NMFS that it will take for the recreational fishery to catch its 4.47 million pound quota. An interim rule can remain in effect for 180 days, with a possible 180-day extension. The Gulf Council is preparing a Regulatory Amendment tocontinue implementing the above changes once the interim rule expires. The Regulatory Amendment will also contain an additional proposal to change the opening date of the Fall commercial red snapper season from September 1 to October 1. As an additional potential measure to help promote price stability and eliminate an unfair competitive disadvantage against foreign imports, the Council has asked NMFS legal counsel to evaluate the legal ramifications of requiring that foreign red snapper catches imported to the Gulf states be consistent with the minimum size limits for U.S. fishermen. The Council also encourages recreational and commercial fishermen to use circle hooks when fishing for red snapper, in order to reduce hooking mortality. The use of circle hooks is not currently required, but may be considered as a management tool in the future. For more information about circle hooks, visit these links:
  • Circle Hooks Ready to Boom - American Sportfishing Association
  • Circle Hooks: A Catch & Release Phenomenon - Catch and Release Foundation

    REMAINDER OF COMMERCIAL RED SNAPPER SEASON WILL OPEN NOVEMBER 1-5, 1999

    (posted October 19, 1999) - The Southeast Fisheries Science Center has provided the following preliminary landings estimates for the fall Gulf red snapper commercial fishery for the periods, noon September 1 through noon September 10 and noon October 1 through noon October 10, 1999. All landings have been converted to whole weight. These estimates have been provided by port agents, and are subject to minor revision as more complete data become available.

    Period Texas Central Gulf Florida Total
    Sept. 1-10 182,466 509,032 59,792 751,290
    Oct. 1-10 239,696 312,297 36,521 588,514
    Total 422,162 821,329 96,313 1,339,804

    The 1999 commercial quota for Gulf red snapper is 4.65 million pounds. Approximately 3.07 million pounds of red snapper were caught in the 1999 spring commercial season (February 1, 1999 to April 15, 1999). With the 1.34 million pounds caught to date in the fall season that began September 1, total 1999 commercial Gulf red snapper landings through October 10, 1999, are estimated to be 4.41 million pounds (95% of quota). The next segment of the fall commercial red snapper season opens at noon on November 1, 1999. The fall commercial Gulf red snapper fishery will be closed at noon on November 5, 1999 when the quota is projected to be met. For the remainder of calendar year 1999 commercial and recreational fishermen will not be able to harvest or possess red snapper in Federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico.


    NEW FISHING REGULATIONS APPROVED BY NMFS

    (posted September 3, 1999) - The National Marine Fisheries Service has recently approved and implemented new fishing regulations affecting red snapper and king mackerel in the Gulf of Mexico.

    • red snapper - zero bag limit for the captain and crew of for-hire vessels (effective with next opening of recreational season)
    • red snapper - commercial Fall season (September 1 opening) is open from noon on the 1st to noon on the 10th of each month until the Fall sub-quota is filled. he Spring season (February 1 opening) will continue to be open from noon on the 1st to noon on the 15th of each month until the Spring sub-quota is filled.
    • king mackerel - zero bag limit for the captain and crew of for-hire vessels (effective 9/20/99)
    • king mackerel - 24" fork length minimum size limit (effective 9/20/99)

    A Council proposal to delay the opening of the recreational red snapper season until March 1 was rejected by NMFS (the season will open on January 1). A Council proposal to lower the red napper minimum size limit to 14 inches total length was also rejected by NMFS. (The red snapper recreational minimum size limit reverted back to from 18" to the original 15" total length upon the August 29, 1999 closure of the 1999 recreational red snapper season.) However, red snapper regulatory measures for 2000 will be reconsidered by the Council after review of a new stock assessment at its November 8-11, 1999 meeting.

    The following changes proposed by the Council to NMFS have been tentatively approved but not yet implemented. Implementation is expected in October:

    • a slot limit of 14" to 22" total length for banded rudderfish and lesser amberjack
    • a 5-fish recreational bag limit for banded rudderfish and lesser amberjack combined
    • a 16" total length minimum size limit for the following species - scamp and mutton snapper
    • a 12" total length minimum size limit for the following species - cubera snapper, dog snapper, mahogany snapper, schoolmaster, and gray triggerfish
    • a 12" fork length minimum size limit and 5-fish recreational bag limit for hogfish
    • a 1-fish per vessel recreatiuonal bag limit for speckled hind
    • a 1-fish per vessel recreational bag limit for warsaw grouper.
    • banded rudderfish, lesser amberjack, and hogfish will be removed from the 20 reef fish aggregate recreational bag limit (since they will have their own individual bag limits)
    • removal of Queen triggerfish from federal management (species will then be subject to state regulations in federal waters)



    RED SNAPPER RECREATIONAL MINIMUM SIZE LIMIT IN GULF OF MEXICO FEDERAL WATERS INCREASED TO 18 INCHES EFFECTIVE 12:01 AM ON JUNE 4, 1999 - RECREATIONAL SEASON TO CLOSE AT 12:01 AM ON AUGUST 29, 1999

    (posted June 3, 1999) - The recreational fishery's minimum size limit for red snapper in Gulf of Mexico Federal waters will increase to 18 inches total length effective at 12:01 a.m. on June 4, 1999, and the recreational season will close at 12:01 a.m. on August 29, 1999, announced Dr. William T. Hogarth, Regional Administrator, Southeast Region, National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).

    The Gulf of Mexico red snapper recreational quota for 1999 is 4.47 million pounds. NMFS is required to close the recreational fishery for red snapper when the quota is reached, by publishing a notification to that effect in the Federal Register. Under the existing regulations of a four-fish bag limit and a 15-inch minimum size limit, the fishery would close at 12:01 a.m. on August 5, 1999.

    NMFS has approved an emergency rule to implement an 18-inch minimum size limit effective at 12:01 a.m. on June 4, 1999. This rule will be in effect until the season closes on August 29, then the minimum size limit will revert to 15 inches. The purpose of this emergency action is to reduce catch rates and thus extend the recreational season. NMFS and the Council believe that the 24-day extension of the season will relieve economic hardship in the for-hire sector that would result from an August 5 closure.

    The recreational fishery will remain closed until January 1, 2000, unless the start date for the 2000 season is changed by regulatory action. The Council has submitted a red snapper regulatory amendment, now under NMFS review, that would delay the start of the 2000 recreational season until March 1, 2000.

    The recreational bag limit remains at 4 fish per person.



    RED SNAPPER COMMERCIAL SPRING QUOTA FILLED, COMMERCIAL SEASON CLOSED UNTIL SEPTEMBER 1, 1999

    (updated April 23, 1999) - The National Marine Fisheries Service, Southeast Fisheries Science Center has provided the following preliminary landings estimates for Gulf of Mexico red snapper for the commercial season that started February 1, 1999. All landings have been converted to whole weight. These estimates have been provided by port agents, and are subject to minor revision as more complete data become available.

    The 1999 red snapper commercial quota is 4.65 million pounds (pending NMFS approval), subdivided into 3.06 million pounds under a February 1 opening, and 1.59 million pounds (or the remaining quota) under a September 1 opening. The commercial fishery is open from noon on the 1st to noon on the 15th of each month until the sub-quota is reached. Because of the "derby" nature of this fishery, landings are monitored weekly through port agent reports. The table below shows the commercial red snapper landings data to date, as provided by the NMFS Southeast Regional Office.

    Pounds Landed
    Reporting Period Texas Central Gulf Florida Total Landings
    February 1-7, 1999 163,996 560,803 32,729 757,528
    February 8-15, 1999 185,888 398,772 61,159 645,819
    March 1-7, 1999 104,913 339,620 25,408 469,941
    March 8-15, 1999 79,140 200,885 23,256 303,281
    April 1-5, 1999 84,578 142,098 43,748 270,424
    April 6-15, 1999 118,799 378,617 50,195 547,611
    Total 737,314 2,020,795 236,495 2,994,604

    In 1998, the spring commercial red snapper season closed on April 12th. In 1999, preliminary estimates indicate that 98% of the 3.06 million pound spring sub-quota was taken through April 15th. Since the preliminary estimates are slight underestimates (about 2 to 3% under), the NMFS has determined that the spring quaota was reached on April 15, 1999. The spring commercial season is closed. The fall commercial season will begin at noon on September 1, 1999, with approximately 1.59 million pounds, adjusted for any over or under harvest during the spring season.