Florida congressmen want more than a 3-day Red Snapper fishing season

Red Snapper fishing

There are 365 days in calendar year 2017, but for 362 of those days, it will be illegal for individuals to fish in federal waters for Red Snapper. For two Panhandle congressmen, that is insufficient.

Shalimar Republican Matt Gaetz and Panama City Republican Neal Dunn are urging the U.S. Department of Commerce to allow more days for private recreational fishing. The lawmakers are seeking greater than 10 times more allowable days than the federal government is providing.

The governing authority over the fishing seasons is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which is a part of the Commerce Department. NOAA set the season for private anglers to begin Thursday, June 1 at 12:01 a.m. The season closes at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, June 4.

Along with several of their colleagues from Gulf states, Gaetz and Dunn wrote to Earl Comstock, Director of the department’s Office of Policy of Strategic Planning.

“We strongly urge you to use any authority at your disposal to expand the 2017 private recreational Red Snapper season in federal waters to include Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in June, July and August, as well as July 3 and July 4, consistent with the current health and overall sustainability of the stock,” they wrote.

NOAA described the need for the brief season is a result of the private angling quota for 2016 being “exceeded by 129,906 pounds.” To rectify, according to NOAA, the excess “must be paid back by the private angling component because that component exceeded its quota.”

Recreational fishing has a 49-day season, running from June 1 until July 20. That component also exceeded its quota last year.

Private angling represents more than half of the total annual catch. Combined, the 2017 quota is 5.28 million pounds.

The elected officials are certainly aware that with the season less than a week away, time is of the essence.

“As you consider this solution,” they wrote, “we ask that you act as quickly as possible to ensure greater access to the private recreational angling community.”

Update: This story includes corrected information on the recreational fishing season. The for-hire boat component underfished their component in 2016 and have received increased fishing days for 2017 from NOAA.

Bob Sparks

Bob Sparks is a former political consultant who previously served as spokesman for the Republican Party of Florida, Department of Environmental Protection and the Florida Attorney General. He was a senior adviser to former Gov. Charlie Crist. Before entering politics, he spent nearly two decades in professional baseball administration. He can be reached at [email protected] and Twitter @BobSparksFL.


  • Candy Hansard

    May 28, 2017 at 10:52 am

    Why doesn’t NOAA/NMFS have performance standards? Well, because the bigger their failures, the more money congress throws at the problem! NOAA’s annual budget is $6 BILLION. NMFS’s annual budget is just shy of $1 BILLION. So, how many reefs did they build to grow the fishery? ZERO! So, what do they do with all that money? They have multiple meetings at high-end resorts all over the country to talk about problems but, they never discuss solutions. They just pick winners and losers. Recreational fishermen are the losers year after year and they force the commercial and charter guys to grovel for access. The whole process is a waste of our tax dollars because nothing ever gets better, every year they claim the fishery is in worse shape and they further restrict access. What else do they do with our tax dollars? NOAA/NMFS pay scientists to do the same research over and over, getting the same answers year after year even though their own scientists admit their data is flawed, NMFS makes management decisions based on flawed science. How can we improve access for ALL sectors? Abolish NMFS and send the responsibility back to the states and split the NMFS budget amongst the coastal states to spend on building artificial reefs to build a sustainable fishery. NMFS has FAILED consistently to properly manage our fishery, let’s STOP funding failure!

  • Alex Robertson

    May 28, 2017 at 11:39 am

    Thanks for addressing this, been a long running issue for the recreational angler and for the business that supply us for our trips. The red snapper are prolific, yet NOAA continues to base their decisions on base science, we can’t allow this continue

  • Tom

    May 28, 2017 at 4:27 pm

    The CFH component did not overfish its quota last year. They also not fish in state waters when the federal season is closed.

  • Gary Jarvis

    May 28, 2017 at 9:42 pm

    The article has a gross error in it reporting. The Charter for Hire component did not over fish it’s annual allocation for the second year in a row. we have underfished it. In 2016 the first year the CFH had its own allocation it under fished that allocation by 17% add a built in 20% buffer to address scientic uncertainty so they left 37% of their allocation in the Gulf . Last year in 2016 the Charter sector under fished their annual allocation by 13% again add the 20% buffer. This is why the charter sector has a increase in fishing days in 2017. If you don’t over fish you do not have to payback last years overage The other sector overfished both the ACT and ACL so they have a pay back in play and with Louisiana , Florida , Mississippi and Alabàma increased their state water seasons that has led to reduced thier harvest access from 11 days last year to 3 this year. No mention of that in this article either.

  • Bob Sparks

    May 29, 2017 at 7:57 am

    Mr. Jarvis, see updated version.

  • Bill Tucker

    May 30, 2017 at 9:13 am

    The States have raided the red snapper cookie jar, and left only 3 days worth of red snapper for us to catch in Federal waters. It’s not NOAA’s fault, it is the result of the States’ actions. Blame the States for the short federal season, as they take most of the quota before the federal season even opens.
    The States have caused the short Federal seasons, and now they blame the Feds. Shameless.

Comments are closed.


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