By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Thursday, June 26 Alabama Governor Robert Bentley and the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Marine Resources Division announced in a written statement that Alabama State waters will open for the harvest of red snapper and gray triggerfish on all Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in July.
Governor Bentley said, “The state red snapper season will be open during three of the biggest weekends for fishing: The Fourth of July weekend, the Roy Martin Dauphin Island Young Anglers Tournament and the Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo. Red snapper fishing is popular along the Alabama Gulf Coast, and the extra fishing days are good for the Gulf Coast economy. I welcome fishermen to take advantage of the additional opportunities for red snapper fishing in our waters.”
Each fisherman will be limited to just two red snapper per person per day and two gray triggerfish per person per day. The minimum size for red snapper will be 16” total length and the minimum size for gray triggerfish will be 14” fork length. Federal waters remain closed to red snapper and gray triggerfish harvest so pay careful attention to how far out you take the boat.
Fishermen must report all red snapper that are harvested to Alabama’s the Marine Resources Division. Only one report is required per vessel trip, and fishermen can provide details via a smartphone app available under “Outdoor Alabama” in the iTunes or Google Play app stores; online at outdooralabama.com; by telephone at 1-844-REDSNAP (1-844-733-7627), or by paper forms available at select coastal public boat launches.
The Director of the Marine Resources Division, Chris Blankenship said, “The federal red snapper season this year was only nine days. Our biologists have assessed the resource in our waters, and we feel that there are still enough red snapper in Alabama waters to open an additional season in order to give our citizens the ability to catch more red snapper this year. The red snapper reporting compliance from the recreational and charter fishermen during the federal season was very good. The information obtained from the red snapper reporting program gives us confidence that we can open this season in state waters for sustainable harvest.”
During the 2014 legislative session, the Alabama Legislature passed a bill extending Alabama waters to nine miles for fisheries management. The Obama Administration has refused to recognize the new distance. Persons possessing red snapper or gray triggerfish farther than three miles from shore could receive citations from federal or state law enforcement officers. During this extended season, the Marine Resources Division will recognize the Legislative nine-mile limit for the harvest of red snapper and gray triggerfish. However, anglers should be aware that federal enforcement officers could issue citations outside the three-mile limit and should understand that possession of red snapper and gray triggerfish between three and nine miles in Alabama state waters is at your own risk.
Department of Conservation Commissioner N. Gunter Guy Jr. 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. Governor Bentley and the Department of Conservation appreciate the participation of our fishermen in the Marine Resources Division Red Snapper Reporting Program. The information from this program is vital to improving the access of our citizens to red snapper fishery.”
Recreational fishing is a huge tourist attraction in Alabama. One of the most popular saltwater fish species is red snapper. The federal government regulates how many red snapper that can be legally put on a boat. Commercial fisherman successfully argued to federal fisheries officials that recreational fisherman have exceeded their collective quota. The federal government punished recreational fishermen by limiting the amount of days that a recreational fisherman can fish for and keep a red snapper to just 9 days this year. Outside of that nine day season any red snapper caught by a recreational fisherman must be released back to the ocean in federal waters.