A New Year's red snapper party in Destin

Special to The Log
Deuce Hardy of Louisiana was proud of his red snapper he caught aboard the First Light with Capt. Steve Haeusler.

The party will continue into the new year for some anglers who want to catch the signature red snapper in Destin.

The Gulf of Mexico Headboat Collaborative Pilot program, which will allow specified boats to land red snapper and gag grouper, begins Jan. 1, 2014.

A total of 17 vessels are participating in the first year of the pilot program. These vessels are located in Texas, Alabama, and Florida.

Included in the 17 are Destin's party boats Sweet Jody, Destiny and Destin Princess — all located at Fishing Fleet Marina.

NOAA Fisheries authorized the two-year pilot program through issuance of an Exempted Fishing Permit (EFP). The purpose of the pilot program is to assess the viability of an allocation-based management strategy for achieving conservation and economic goals more effectively than current management.

The Headboat Collaborative was allocated a portion of the red snapper and gag recreational quotas based on historical landings data. Participating headboats may use the allotted quota to harvest red snapper and gag outside the normal recreational fishing seasons.

The pilot program will use both an online data collection system for tracking and transferring quota, as well as the existing Southeast Headboat Survey's electronic logbook (e-Log) system for tracking landings.