By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Wednesday, June 13, 2017, The United States Department of Commerce announced an extension of the Federal Red Snapper season. Governor Ivey was notified Tuesday night yesterday of the decision.
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (R) said in a statement, “I am proud to report that President Trump and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross have granted my request to extend the Federal Red Snapper season. The announcement comes after twice last week, once through a letter and once in person while at the White House, I asked President Trump to add to the season.”
Governor Kay Ivey said, “Many thanks are due to the President, Secretary Ross, Congressman Bradley Byrne, Alabama’s congressional delegation, and the local Gulf Coast government entities for their fight to increase the length of the Red Snapper season.”
On June 2, 2017, Governor Ivey sent a letter to President Trump asking him to review the data collected by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and to consider elongating this year’s Red Snapper season.
Wednesday, the Department of Commerce announced that the federal red snapper season has been extended for a cumulative additional 39 days. Alabama state and federal waters will be open for Red Snapper harvest every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from June 16 through September 3. The waters will also be open July 3 and 4 and Labor Day. The announced dates closely mirror those requested by Governor Ivey.
US Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) said, “I am pleased the Department of Commerce is listening to states and local anglers to provide immediate relief to this problem. Adding 39 days to the recreational fishing season for Red Snapper is great news. Ultimately, a long-term solution is needed that benefits all Gulf fishermen. I will continue to work with Secretary Ross and my Gulf State colleagues to allow further access to this abundant resource.”
As Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science, Senator Shelby has extended State fishery boundaries from 3 to 9 miles to allow increased access for recreational fishermen and has authored a provision to implement a State-led pilot program to allow states to take the lead in managing Red Snapper.
US Senator Luther Strange (R-Alabama) said, “Today’s extension is reassuring news for these Gulf Coast anglers and those of us fighting to let their voices be heard. It was important to take action when the three-day season was announced, and I remain committed to making sure that the Gulf’s abundance is accessible to recreational fishermen and the coastal communities they call home.”
US Representative Bradley Byrne (R-Montrose) said. “This is a huge victory for recreational fishermen and our Gulf Coast communities. As soon as the three day season was announced, my staff and I went to work with other Gulf Coast congressmen to fight for an emergency extension. Today’s announcement will provide some much needed relief to our fishermen and help benefit our economy in Coastal Alabama.”
Congressman Byrne continued, “I want to thank President Trump, Secretary Wilbur Ross and the staff at the Department of Commerce for their attention to this issue. I also cannot say enough about Chris Blankenship at the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources because he played a critical role in helping get all the Gulf states on board with this extension. This extension is huge for the 2017 season, but we must continue working for a long-term solution to the Red Snapper issues that gives more control to the individual Gulf states.”
In order to facilitate the emergency extension, state Red Snapper seasons have now been brought in line with the new Federal season for recreational anglers. The “for-hire” or charter boat season will remain 49 days, as it runs through July 19th. The Federal Red Snapper season has been extended for a cumulative additional 39 days. Alabama state and federal waters will be open for Red Snapper harvest every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from June 16 through September 3. The waters will also be open July 3 and 4 and Labor Day. The announced dates closely mirror those requested by Governor Ivey. Congressman Byrne and former Chief Justice Roy Moore (R)
Governor Ivey said, “The Red Snapper fishery provides a major impact to Alabama’s economy. Every day the Federal season is open helps businesses in Coastal Alabama. The people of Alabama are indebted to Acting Conservation Commissioner Chris Blankenship; without his efforts, this announcement would not have been made today. He and his staff have worked for many years to gather data and build coalitions to properly manage this fishery. This is an historic collaboration with the Department of Commerce and the five Gulf states to reset the framework of Federal Red Snapper management, Secretary Ross and his staff have been very open. This accord is only for the 2017 season, but we are diligently working with our Congressional delegation and the Department of Commerce for a long-term fix.”
Fishermen must still report their Red Snapper harvest through the Alabama Snapper Check Program. The data collected through the Alabama Snapper Check Program the past three years were critical in securing the additional Red Snapper fishing days. 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 at www.outdooralabama.com, or by paper forms available at select coastal public boat launches.
Both State and Federal waters will be closed to the taking of Red Snapper Monday-Thursday each week. A list of public artificial and natural reefs can be found at www.outdooralabama.com/artificial-reefs.