Red snapper days for Florida state waters and the private recreational fisherman have been set.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at a recent meeting in Gainesville set the season for the much sought after red snapper for June 11 through July 12, with a possible fall reopening if quota is available.
“This season will apply to those fishing from private recreational vessels in state and federal waters and to charter vessels that do not have a federal reef fish permit and are limited to fishing in state waters only,” according to a news release from the FWC.
State waters are from the shoreline out to nine nautical miles.
The red snapper season for the federally permitted charter boats fishing in federal waters, nine nautical miles out to 200 miles, has not yet been set.
But for the recreational fishermen wishing to fish for red snapper in state waters they need to acquire a Gulf Reef Fish Angler designation on their license, according to FWC. And for the charter for hire vessel that doesn’t have a federal permit and is limited to fishing in state water, they will need to get a State Gulf Reef Fish Charter designation on their license.
The designations are free, but are needed to account for who is fishing for red snapper or reef fish.
“We were pushing for more than that,” said Capt. Jim Green, president of the Destin Charter Boat Association.
He explained that they would like to see a charge for the permit, and for the fishermen to be more accountable by hailing in and out and reporting what they caught.
“But this doesn’t do that … but it’s a step in the right direction,” he said.
Last year, the recreational fisherman got 40 days to fish for red snapper, but because they overfished the fishery it’s been cut back to 32 days.
“If you want something better it’s going to take change,” Green said. “But you have to get involved and do your part.”
The decrease in days is what the charter boat captains experienced back in 2014, when they were cut down to nine days. But since then their days have increased and last year enjoyed 51 days of red snapper fishing.
“If you feel short changed … that should bring in a culture to want to do more,” Green said. “The reef permit is easy.”
Tim Broom of Half Hitch Tackle suggested an app to help with the process of accountability.
“We need an app that you sign into when you go fishing … sign out at end of the day and you record what you caught as a recreational fisherman,” Broom said. “And if we all counted our fish we might find out that we would get a lot more access.
“Everybody has a smart phone nowadays and an app would be the easiest way to do that.”