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Private anglers in Alabama will have extended red snapper season

Brandon Moseley

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The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources announced Wednesday that they have completed a review of the first 21 days of the proposed 27-day 2019 private angler red snapper season and will add five days to the private vessel recreational season.

The additional days will begin 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 1, 2019, and run until midnight on Monday, Aug. 5, 2019.

The additional days are provided as a result of lower than expected landings due to inclement weather.

Under the Exempted Fishing Permit issued to the ADCNR Marine Resources Division by the National Marine Fisheries Service, MRD staff monitors red snapper landings during the season and may adjust the season length to provide maximum access to the resource for Alabama’s anglers while staying within the EFP quota on the number of the fish that may be harvested.

Landing estimates are derived from mandatory angler reports submitted through Alabama’s Snapper Check Program. That data show that anglers from private and state-licensed charter vessels have landed only about half of the EFP quota of red snapper as of July 14, 2019.

“In 2018, we had a run of unusually great weather in coastal Alabama that provided almost ideal fishing conditions,” said MRD Director Scott Bannon. “The 2019 season has been more typical of past years including several days with higher winds. Additionally, a full weekend of windy weather from Hurricane Barry limited fishing opportunities for anglers.”

“The benefit of state management is that we have a quota allocated to Alabama and can quickly adjust to changes in the recreational fishery in order to maintain sustainable harvest levels and provide the maximum fishing opportunities for our anglers,” said ADCNR Commissioner Chris Blankenship. “Anglers have done a better job of reporting their snapper this year. The increase in reporting reduces uncertainty for fisheries managers when making decisions about season length. Anglers are to be commended for their increased level of participation in the Snapper Check Program. I hope we continue to see higher rates of reporting in the coming years.”

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The additional red snapper season days coincide with the beginning of greater amberjack season, which opens on Aug. 1. When greater amberjack season opens, anglers can voluntarily report their greater amberjack harvest through the Snapper Check Program.

“Anglers told us they would like to catch amberjack and red snapper at the same time,” Bannon said. “This year they will have that opportunity just before school begins. Anglers have also requested more weekdays, so we’ve added a Thursday and a Monday.”

The MRD staff will continue to monitor the red snapper landing after each weekend of the season to ensure the quota is not exceeded. If the red snapper quota isn’t met as of Aug. 5, MRD will provide additional red snapper fishing opportunities on the Labor Day holiday weekend.

Anglers are reminded that this only applies to private anglers. The federal charter season for red snapper is open seven days a week until 12:01 a.m. on Aug. 2, 2019. The federally permitted charter vessels are not under state management, and any season extension for charter vessels would have to be made by the National Marine Fisheries Service.

The purpose of ADCNR is to promote wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through four divisions — Marine Resources, State Lands, State Parks and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries.

Detailed red snapper landing information from the 2018 and 2019 seasons is available here.

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