PANAMA CITY BEACH– Red snapper season will be open for recreational harvest in state and federal waters come fall.
The National Marine Fisheries Service announced Friday plans for a 14-day supplemental snapper season, which will begin Oct. 1 and run through midnight Oct. 15.
The News Herald reports the federal season will be one week shorter than the 21-day state season, which was approved by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission last week. In Florida, federal waters begin nine nautical miles offshore.
The season was shortened after catch estimates for June came in higher than expected, said Roy Crabtree, the agency’s Southeast Regional administrator.
“Those catch estimates indicate that there was a substantially higher portion of trips that occurred in offshore waters than we’ve seen in past years,” he said.
Stock is still healthy, he said, and catch limits for snapper are the highest they have been since quotas were set in 1991.
There was also an increase in the allowable catch for Gulf red snapper, from 8.46 million pounds to 11 million pounds. The recreational quota increased from 4.145 to 5.39 million pounds.
Still, the agency is not sure just what the turnout come October will be.
“It’s very difficult for us to know how many people will go fishing for red snapper in October,” Crabtree said. “We’ve heard from fishermen and they don’t want us to put next year’s season at risk. It’s all a balancing act.”