Florida Senators Join Call for Snapper Season Extension

Stretch of bad weather impacts already short Gulf red snapper season

Posted on June 29, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – A stubborn tropical system that impacted the eastern Gulf of Mexico for more than a week in late June put a significant dent in the shortest red snapper season on record and prompted Florida’s two U.S. Senators to write a letter to the administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) requesting an extension to the season.

“We’ve spoken at length about the red snapper fishery and its economic impact in the state of Florida. Fishing is more than a job in the Gulf of Mexico – it is a way of life,” wrote Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio. “Shortened seasons, decreased bag limits, and closures severely impact these coastal communities. We urge you to ensure that fishermen aren’t unfairly disadvantaged by weather that is out of their control, and extend the red snapper season accordingly.”

The request by Nelson and Rubio is accompanied by a similar letter from 17 members of the U.S. House of Representatives also seeking an extension of the season.

“You can’t do anything about the weather and even without a tropical system stirring things up, you can lose a lot of days out on the water just because of high wind and waves,” said Jeff Miller, chairman of CCA Florida and owner of Miller’s Boating Center in Ocala, Florida. “A 40-day season does not leave much margin for error, and to be kept off the water for a week or more really impacts this region economically. I am glad that our elected officials are keeping an eye on this and thank them for going to bat for us. Hopefully NOAA Fisheries is listening.”

Compounding anglers’ frustration is mounting evidence that the snapper population is the healthiest it is been in recent history, with fishermen finding snapper in places they have never appeared before and catching the two-fish limit literally in minutes.

“You can’t get a bait past them if you can get out there,” said Miller. “Beyond the impact of this recent spate of bad weather, someone really needs to look at how we are managing this fishery. I’m all for rebuilding the fishery and proceeding with caution, but the current regulations seem way behind the curve. This is a success story for fisheries management, but they are still clamping down on it like it’s a collapsed stock. It just doesn’t make sense.”

The 2012 red snapper season opened on June 1 and is scheduled to close around July 11. To see a copy of the Nelson/Rubio letter, click HERE.