The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Marine Resources Division (MRD) announced Wednesday that Alabama’s waters will open for the recreational harvest of red snapper from Friday, May 27 – Sunday, July 31, 2016. For 2016, the state waters were extended in federal legislation that was passed in December 2015. This extension allows the State of Alabama to manage reef fish out to 9 miles from shore. The daily bag limit will be two red snapper per person. The minimum size for red snapper will be 16 inches total length. A list of public artificial and natural reefs located in Alabama state waters can be found at www.outdooralabama.com/artificial-reefs. Federal waters outside 9 miles will also be open for red snapper harvest during the nine-day federal season June 1-9.
Fishermen are reminded that they are still required to report their red snapper harvest through Snapper Check to the Marine Resources Division during this period as well as any other time red snapper are allowed to be landed in Alabama. Only one report is required per vessel trip, and anglers can provide details via a smartphone app available under “Outdoor Alabama” in the iTunes or Google Play app stores; online atoutdooralabama.com; by phone at 1-844-REDSNAP (1-844-733-7627); or by paper forms available at select coastal public boat launches. Additional information can be found at www.outdooralabama.com/red-snapper-data-and-mandatory-reporting-faqs.
“The federal red snapper season this year will be the shortest ever for private vessels. MRD biologists have assessed the resource in our waters, and we feel that there are enough red snapper in Alabama waters to open an additional season to give our citizens the ability to catch more red snapper this year,” said Chris Blankenship, director of the Marine Resources Division.
“MRD has also funded research that was conducted by Dr. Sean Powers’ lab at the University of South Alabama. Dr. Powers currently estimates that there are approximately 20 million pounds of red snapper off the coast of Alabama. During the 2015 fishing season, a little over 1 million pounds was landed during the federal and state red snapper seasons as determined through the Snapper Check program. That leaves plenty of red snapper in the water to allow for additional sustainable harvest from Alabama waters,” Blankenship said.
“The state red snapper season will be open during Memorial Day weekend and during the best months for family fishing in Alabama,” said Conservation Commissioner N. Gunter Guy, Jr. “The June and July season will include great family events such as the Flora-Bama Fishing Rodeo, the Fourth of July weekend, the Roy Martin Dauphin Island Young Anglers Tournament, and the Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo.
“It is important for the people of Alabama to be able to enjoy red snapper fishing for more than a few days a year. We are pleased that the federal government will recognize the nine-mile jurisdiction this year. That is a much better situation for our fishermen and for law enforcement,” he said.
“We will continue to work with the federal government and the other Gulf states to responsibly manage this great fishery in federal waters while also allowing proper management in Alabama waters. However, the incredibly short federal red snapper season is uncalled for. The sooner the Gulf states, including Alabama, can manage this fishery, instead of the federal government, the better for those who enjoy this resource and for those in our coastal communities who depend on this resource to earn a living. We will continue to work diligently with our Congressional delegation to make sure that happens,” Guy said.