MAYPORT, Fla. — Red snapper season has officially begun in Northeast Florida. The clock is ticking for anglers looking to reel ‘em in.
This year, anglers have from July 8 to July 9, 2022 to catch one fish per person, per day. The limitations were put in place back in 2010 due to overharvesting, according to theNational Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The season came back in 2012, 2013 and 2014 before being closed again in 2015 and 2016. It reopened in 2017.
This year fishermen have 48 hours to catch a red snapper. Last year, it was three days. The year before, people were given four days, and in 2018 the season was six days long.
Some believe the red snapper population is fully recovered and these limitations need to go.
“The bottom line is that rebuilding red snapper has been a success. We have more fish than we’ve had for a very long time,” Martha Guyas with the American Sport Fishing Association, said. “Unfortunately, the management has not adjusted.”
Action News Jax’s Meghan Moriarty spoke with some people out on the water on Friday at the Mayport dock. Many fishermen said there are so many red snapper, it’s almost impossible not to reel in more than their limit.
“There’s more of those things than you know what to do with,” Lance Gray said.
“We catch so many we get bored,” Robert Ochoa said “We don’t even pull the rod out of the rod holder.”
Adam Sugalski is the executive director of One Protest, an animal advocacy group. He said restrictions are in place for a reason.
“Important job to have these regulations versus just having an open season,” Sugalski said. “Next thing you know, there are no red snappers.”
Right now, there is bipartisan funding for a study to determine the stock in red snapper fisheries from North Carolina to Florida. Republican Rep., John Rutherford, and Democratic Orlando Rep. Stephanie Murphy, are funding the study, which is expected to take five years. It began in 2021.
Moriarty spoke with Congressman Rutherford on the phone on Friday. He said the results from the study could be ready as early as next year. He believes it will expand the fishing season.
“Look. There was a 10-year moratorium. And, during that time, we rebuilt the stock, and I think the stock is back,” said Rutherford.
“We want NOAA to have some good numbers and so Stephanie Murphy and I got together, and we started through the funding appropriations of a three-year period. The entire Florida delegation supports this. Me and Stephanie, particularly, we are pushing hard to get some good data so that these fishermen can get the kind of season they deserve.”
A NOAA spokesperson sent us this statement in response to the limitations in place:
“There are fishing regulations in place for red snapper including a season, recreational bag limits, and commercial trip limits. The regulations are necessary in order to sustainably manage the red snapper population. The catch limits are based on an assessment of the health of the population. The goal is for catch to not exceed the catch limits that are in place each year. In order to achieve this goal, NOAA Fisheries annually announces the length of the open season for recreational fishermen and has specified a one fish per person bag limit during the open season. NOAA Fisheries used catch from previous years to determine the season length for 2022.”
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