Although 68 was the prediction, it appears that 62 is the magic number of red snapper days for vessels with federal for-hire reef fish permits in the Gulf of Mexico.
According to the Gulf of Mexico Marine Fishery Council, the red snapper season for federally permitted for-hire vessels, which is the majority of Destin’s charter boat fleet, will begin at 12:01 a.m. on June 1 and close at 12:01 on Aug. 2.
frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen>
RELATED: 10 years ago, local fishermen marched on D.C. for change
Last year, the for-hire vessels had 61 days, starting June 1. So this year they get one more day.
"For our fleet and the rest of the for-hire fleet in the Gulf, the consistency in the red snapper season is great," said Jim Green, captain of the New Florida Girl’s American Spirit and chairman of the Destin Charter Boat Association. "It has brought stability to our industry. The for-hire fleet has consistently stayed within our quota since sector separation.
RELATED: DESTIN’S MAGNOLIA TREE: Gone, but not forgotten
"We now have a season that is beneficial to angler access, conducive to our business needs, but most importantly it benefits the stock of fish as a whole where none of us have to live through another rebuilding of the red snapper," he added.
Fishermen for the past seven or eight years have dealt with shorter snapper seasons in order to help the stock rebuild.
RELATED: Destin charter fleet looks forward to extra red snapper days
In 2014, the for-hire industry got their biggest blow with their season reduced to only nine days. But since that all-time low, the number of days have increased. In 2015 the for-hire industry got 44 days, 46 in 2016, 49 in 2017, 51 in 2018 and 61 days last year.
The reasoning behind the slight increase in the number of days this year is due to the reduction in buffer, from 20 percent to 9 percent. Because the federal for-hire component didn’t exceed its annual catch target, the council determined that the buffer between the annual catch limit and the annual catch target could be reduced from 20 to 9 percent.
The bag limit for red snapper is two per angler and must be 16 inches to keep.
As for the recreational or private boat angler, their snapper days are June 11 through July 25.