Recreational fishermen will have 39 more days to fish the federal waters of the Gulf Coast for red snapper. But some say that could come at the expense of the snapper population and next year's season.
Gulf Coast wildlife officials praised the decision to reopen the federal season for red snapper in Alabama and the rest of the gulf coast for three-day weekends beginning this weekend and continuing through Labor Day, along with three holiday days -- July 3 and 4, and Labor Day itself.
A charter captains’ association and an environmental group have had a more muted response. They estimate anglers will catch nearly triple their allocated quota of red snapper and panfish under the new plan. That could potentially cancel next year’s recreational snapper season altogether.
The U.S. Commerce Department closely monitors the health of the red snapper fishery due to a past of nearly disastrous overfishing. This year’s three-day season had been set because anglers went over last year’s allocated quota. Gulf Coast officials believe the federal government’s data collection is flawed, and the fishery is far healthier than what federal officials suggest.