Red snapper season begins this weekend
MIAMI — The 2013 Gulf of Mexico recreational red snapper season begins this weekend in state and federal waters. The 44-day state season begins Saturday and runs through July 14, but the federal season off Florida runs for only 26 days. State waters are from shore to 9 nautical miles in Gulf waters, and federal waters extend beyond that line to 200 nautical miles. State and federal regulations require all commercial fishers and recreational anglers fishing for any reef fish species in the Gulf of Mexico to use circle hooks, venting tools and dehooking devices. In Gulf state and federal waters, the minimum size limit is 16 inches total length and the bag limit is two fish per person, per day, within a 10-fish snapper aggregate limit. While the yearly quota for how many pounds of red snapper can be harvested has increased in recent years, the federal season length has gotten shorter over the past few years because of more fishing effort and larger fish, according to federal fishery managers.Closing this Saturday will be greater amberjack in the Gulf of Mexico, but it will reopen Aug. 1. Also closing Saturday will be snook in Atlantic state and federal waters. Snook will reopen for harvest in Atlantic federal, state and inland waters, including Lake Okeechobee and the Kissimmee River, on Sept. 1. Snook remains closed for harvest in Gulf of Mexico state waters, including Everglades National Park and Monroe County. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will decide at its June meeting in Lakeland whether to allow the Gulf snook harvest to reopen Sept. 1.