Local anglers will soon be able to target the popular — and tasty — reef-dwelling red snapper again but they will have to do it quickly. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission announced that the recreational season for 2012 in state waters in the Gulf of Mexico will run from June 1 to July 10 — eight days shorter than the 2011 season.
Red snapper are a favorite among Florida fishermen because of their reputation as excellent table fare. The population has been subject to increased management because of pressure from both recreational and commercial fishermen.
Red snapper are estimated to live more than 50 years, but most fish in the current stock are only a few years old. Older fish are the key to rebuilding the population because older female red snapper produce more eggs than younger females, according to the FWC.
The new regulations are the same as federal rules regarding the harvest of the species outside of state waters located nine miles from shore.
“I think consistency is important,” Commissioner Ron Bergeron said. “The positive part is, looking at the recovery, we are going in the right direction in having long-term benefits for fishermen.”
The daily bag limit will remain at two per person.