Snapper Rules and Regulations

 

Snapper are managed differently in the Gulf versus the Atlantic and in state versus federal waters.

Gulf state waters are from shore to 9 nautical miles.

Atlantic state waters are from shore to 3 nautical miles.

Have you signed up for the Gulf Reef Fish Survey yet? Learn more.

 

Updates

Federal Regulations

Gulf red snapper: The recreational season in Gulf federal waters for private recreational anglers was open June 1-3 and will be open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays June 16 through Sept. 4, including Monday, July 3, Tuesday, July 4, and Monday, Sept. 4.

The season for federally permitted for-hire vessels is June 1-July 19. 

Federally-permitted for-hire vessels can only fish for red snapper in Gulf state waters when both the state waters season and federally-permitted for-hire season overlaps. 


State Regulations

Gulf red snapper: The recreational season is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from June 16 through Sept. 4, including July 3, 4, and Sept. 4. The season also remains open June 15 in state waters only. 

State-permitted for-hire vessels can only fish for red snapper in state waters and only when the state waters season is open. 

See chart below for Atlantic regulations.

Gulf Recreational Red Snapper 2017 Calendar Adobe PDF

RedSnapperCalendar2017.jpg

Gulf Red Snapper News

Statement:

On June 14, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced an expanded 39-day recreational red snapper season for private anglers fishing in Gulf federal waters. 

The FWC followed with an executive order setting the state waters recreational red snapper season.

The 39-day season in Gulf state and federal waters is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from Friday, June 16, through Monday, Sept. 4. Also included are Monday and Tuesday, July 3 and 4, and Monday, Sept. 4.

This is the longest Gulf federal red snapper season since 2013. State waters will also remain open June 15 and beginning Monday, June 19, will close Mondays through Thursdays through Sept. 3, except July 3 and 4 and Sept. 4. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Background:

  • June 9: Commissioners held a call to discuss and hear public input on aligning the state waters red snapper season with a possible expanded federal waters season for private recreational anglers. Commissioners expressed general support for the FWC's Executive Director Nick Wiley to continue to negotiate with the U.S. Department of Commerce and the four other Gulf states for a longer federal red snapper season that would provide as many sustainable fishing opportunities as possible.
  • These changes apply only to Gulf recreational anglers fishing from private vessels and to state-permitted for-hire vessels. No changes to the commercial or federally-permitted recreational for-hire seasons were considered.

Gulf of Mexico Regulations

(state and federal waters unless specified)


SnappersMin. Size LimitDaily Bag LimitOpen Season

Red

 

16" TL 

 

2 per person

(included in the 10 per harvester per day state snapper aggregate bag limit)

Charter captain and crew: zero 

2017

State waters:

  • Open Sats & Suns starting May 6.
  • Daily May 27 through June 18.
  • Open Fris, Sats & Suns June 23 through Sept. 4. Also open July 3, 4 and Sept. 4.

Federal waters: 

Private Recreational

June 1-3 AND

Open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays ONLY June 16-Sept. 4 (also open June 3, 4, and Sept. 4)

Federally permitted for-hire: June 1-July 19

Vermilion

 

10" TL

 

  

State: 10 per person (not included in the 10 snapper aggregate bag limit)                 

Federal: 10/person within 20 reef fish aggregate

 

 Open year-round      

Schoolmaster

10" TL

Up to 10 per person within the 10 snapper aggregate bag limit Open year-round

Gray (Mangrove)

State: 10" TL

Federal: 12" TL

State: 5 per person within the 10 snapper aggregate bag limit 

Federal: 10 per person within the 10 snapper aggregate bag limit 

Open year-round

Mutton

State: 18" TL

Federal: 16" TL 

State: 5 per person within the 10 snapper aggregate bag limit 

Federal: Up to 10 per person within the 10 snapper aggregate bag limit

Open year-round

Cubera

State: 12" TL

May possess no more than 2 over 30" per harvester or vessel per day, whichever is less. 30" or larger cubera are not included within the 10 snapper aggregate bag limit       

Federal: 12" TL

Up to 10 per person within the 10 snapper aggregate bag limit

Open year-round

Lane

8" TL

State: None 

Federal: 20 under their 20-reef fish aggregate

Open year-round

Other (includes Yellowtail, Queen, Blackfin, Silk, Wenchman)

State: 12" TL           

Federal: 12" TL for Yellowtail only; others have no minimum size

Up to 10 per person within the 10 snapper aggregate bag limit Open year-round

Note: Gear rules require circle hooks and dehooking to be used in Gulf state waters reef fish fisheries. The requirement to use venting tools in state and federal waters was eliminated in 2014. 

 


Atlantic Regulations

(state and federal waters unless specified)

 

SnappersMin. Size LimitDaily Bag LimitOpen Season
Red

State: 20" TL

Federal: None

State: 2 per person

Federal: 1 per person

State: Open year-round                               

Federal: Closed

Gray/Mangrove

State: 10" TL

Federal: 12" TL 

State: 5 per person within the 10 snapper aggregate bag limit

Federal: 10 per person within the 10 snapper aggregate bag limit

 Open year-round
Schoolmaster

State: 10" TL

Federal: None

State: Up to 10 per person within the 10 snapper aggregate bag limit                     Federal: None Open year-round
Mutton

State: 18" TL

Federal: 16" TL 

State: 5 per person within the 10 snapper aggregate bag limit 

Federal: Up to 10 per person within the 10 snapper aggregate bag limit

Open year-round

Cubera

12" TL

May possess no more than 2 over 30" per harvester or vessel per day, whichever is less

30" or larger cubera are not included within the 10 snapper aggregate bag limit

Up to 10 per person within the 10 snapper aggregate bag limit

Open year-round

Lane  8" TL

10 per person within the 10 snapper aggregate bag limit

Open year-round

Vermilion 12" TL 5 per person (not included in the 10 snapper aggregate bag limit)    Open year-round
Other (Includes Yellowtail, Queen, Blackfin, Silk, Dog, Mahogany) 12" TL

Up to 10 per person within the 10 snapper aggregate bag limit

Open year-round

Note:

Gear rules require dehooking tools to be used in the Atlantic reef fish fishery.

Captain and crew can keep recreational bag limits of all in-season snapper grouper species.

 

 


Gulf Red Snapper

Red snapper are long-lived, early-maturing reef fish that are broadly distributed in the Gulf of Mexico. They can live to be 57. Older, larger females contribute far more eggs than younger, smaller females. To have a sustainable red snapper stock, there should be an abundance of older/larger fish to maximize the number of young fish coming into the fishery.

Red_snapper_comparison_image.jpg

One 24-inch female red snapper (about an 8 year old fish) produces as many eggs as 212 17-inch females (about 5 years old).

Image Credit: Diane Rome Peebles

 

Gulf Red Snapper Research

The FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute is seeking recreational anglers to volunteer to take catch cards on their next offshore fishing trip to record the numbers of red snapper harvested and a tally of red snapper released by size and hook location.


Additional Snapper Resources

Snapper Descriptions and Species Accounts

Gray Snapper Not a Mobile-Enabled Link        Gray Snapper Species Account Not a Mobile-Enabled Link

Lane Snapper Not a Mobile-Enabled Link        Lane Snapper Species Account Not a Mobile-Enabled Link

Red Snapper Not a Mobile-Enabled Link         Red Snapper Species Account Not a Mobile-Enabled Link

Vermilion Snapper Not a Mobile-Enabled Link  Vermilion Snapper Species Account Not a Mobile-Enabled Link

 

 

Links for more information

Reef Fish Gear Rules

State Reef Fish Rule, 68B-14, F.A.C.

Federal Code of Regulations External Website

NOAA Fisheries Service Red Snapper page External Website

NMFS Southeast Regional Office External Website

Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council External Website

South Atlantic Fishery Management Council website icon_external.png

Stock Assessments (SEDAR) External Website

 



FWC Facts:
In order to stick to plants, larval spotted gar have suction snouts that later become the long, teeth-filled snout.

Learn More at AskFWC