Anglers throughout the Gulf of Mexico share a common interest in the aggressive and delicious red snapper; but when the season opens June 1, not all Gulf States will share the same time frame in which to keep these crimson beauties.
Essentially, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) manages red snapper in federal waters, while states have sovereignty inside their marine boundaries. Some states have chosen to mirror the federal red snapper season, which concludes at midnight July 4, while others have taken other routes. At the request of its Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, NMFS implemented an emergency rule on March 25, 2013, which allowed for state‐specific closure authority of the federal exclusive economic zone off states not adopting consistent federal recreational red snapper regulations.
In federal waters, the daily red snapper limit is two and the minimum total length is 16 inches. Here’s a summary of regulations for Gulf States and their federal seasons:
Mississippi and Alabama: Consistent with 34-day federal season. State waters allow a 2-fish daily bag and a 16-inch minimum total length.
Texas: Texas state waters are open year-round for recreational red snapper fishing. A 17-day federal season closes on June 18, 2013, at 12:01 a.m., local time. State waters allow a 4-fish daily bag, and a 15-inch minimum total length.
Louisiana: Louisiana state waters are open weekends only (Friday, Saturday, Sunday), March 23 – September 30, 2013. A 24-day federal season closes on June 25, 2013, at 12:01 a.m., local time. State waters allow a 3-fish daily bag and a 16-inch minimum total length.
Florida: Florida state waters are open June 1 – July 14, 2013. A 26-day federal season closes on June 27, 2013, at 12:01 a.m., local time. State waters allow a 2-fish daily bag and a 16-inch minimum total length.
State and federal regulations require all commercial and recreational fishermen to use circle hooks, venting tools and dehooking devices when fishing for any reef fish species in the Gulf of Mexico.
The feds use a complex formula that crunches previous catch data and future fishing effort predictions to determine an annual quota for the total annual poundage of red snapper they consider allowable. Because the Gulf’s overall red snapper picture is looking up, the feds increased the 2013 quota to 8.460 pounds whole weight; up from 8.080 million in 2012. For more on red snapper management, visit http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_fisheries/gulf_fisheries/red_snapper/index.html/.