Feds announce 40 day snapper season

William Hatfield

Federal regulators say the 2014 Gulf of Mexico red snapper recreational season will be 40 days, opening at 12:01 a.m., June 1, 2014, and closing at 12:01 a.m., July 11, 2014. The proposal is better news for local anglers as the 2013 season was only 27 days.

“Overall we’re gonna increase in days so that’s a good thing,” said Pam Dana, who sits on the Gulf Council and is owner of the charter boat Sure Lure.

Dana said the move indicates that regulators are trying to help struggling fishermen, who maintain that red snapper are beyond plentiful in local waters.

The proposal will now go to federal register who will solicit public opinion on the matter prior to it being finalized.

“This is a first step, but it’s a really big step,” Dana said.

Still up in the air is whether state regulators will go along with the federal guidelines. In 2013, the feds and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) came to loggerheads after the FWC proposed a 44-day season for state waters, which end nine miles out from the shoreline.

The dispute didn’t benefit Destin’s charter fleet as federally permitted for-hire vessels can’t harvest and retain recreationally caught red snapper even if state waters remain open beyond the federal season.

For information about how the federal season was projected, please see the NOAA Fisheries 2014 Red Snapper Recreational Season Length Report.