The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

May 24, 2013

Gulf anglers get longer red snapper season

(Continued)

Off of Florida, where state waters are open for 44 days starting June 1 with a two-fish bag limit, the season in federal waters will be 26 days instead of 21.

Louisiana has an 88-day weekends-only season, with a three-fish limit. The season started March 23 and runs through September.

The state may cut some of those weekends to allow more time in federal waters, said Pausina, assistant secretary of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

When the Wildlife and Fisheries Commission meets on June 6, he said, he will give them several options that will also include keeping the current state season.

"Obviously the maximum is what Alabama and Mississippi got — 34 days. We could never get 34 days because we've already been harvesting," he said.

Tomeny, who is also a commercial fisherman, said ever-shorter red snapper recreational seasons have forced him to sell three of the four 65-foot charter boats he owned when the recreational red snapper season was six months long.

"But I will say that if they had left it like it was years ago, with the six-month fishing season and four-fish limit, the overfishing would have continued," he said. "A lot of people don't remember what it was like 10 or 15 years ago when we didn't always know if we would catch our limit. It was very tough fishing."

A number of other changes, including individual quotas for commercial fishing boats and reduced shrimping because of high fuel prices, have also helped the species recover, he said.

"All these combine to have this really good comeback in the fishery," Tomeny said. "If they hadn't done it I don't think we'd be worried about how many days, because nobody's interested in going red snapper fishing if it's really poor."

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