Recreational Anglers and Professional Fishers Assist with Red Snapper Research on the Atlantic Coast of Florida

Scientists gathered information about the Atlantic red snapper fishery with assistance from anglers during 2013 season opening in South Atlantic federal waters.

Scientist collecting data, caption belowAn FWC scientist in Port Canaveral collects biological samples from a
red snapper obtained from a
charter vessel’s catch.

In January 2010, the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) and NOAA Fisheries closed the red snapper fishery to protect the population from too much fishing pressure and to allow the population to increase in abundance. The two organizations approved opening the recreational and commercial fisheries in 2012 and again in 2013 after new scientific information projected the population will continue to improve, even with some allowable catch. The fishery reopened for a short period of time to prevent too many fish from being harvested (NOAA Fisheries Southeast Fishery Bulletin PDF icon with dates of opening).

Opening this fishery provided fishermen the opportunity to harvest the red snapper catch limit and enhanced the social and economic benefits to the fishery by supporting recreational and commercial fishing jobs and businesses.

The retention of red snapper created an opportunity to collect important life history information that fishery scientists could use in a future population assessment. Anglers were encouraged to participate in fish surveys during the recreational opening. During the three-day 2013 recreational season, FWC biologists interviewed more than 550 parties of anglers who targeted red snapper from private recreational boats to collect biological information from harvested red snapper and gauge how many were caught, on average, during a typical fishing trip. Operators of eligible charter vessels were also contacted by telephone the week after the season closed to collect similar information from for-hire recreational fishing trips. Also, while the season was open, anglers fishing from charter vessels and large party vessels allowed FWC biologists to collect biological samples from their harvested red snapper.

As a result of these efforts, biologists sampled more than 1,500 red snapper during the 2013 recreational season. Final estimates of red snapper harvest during the 2013 recreational season will be available later this year. Biologists continue to sample red snapper harvested by commercial fishers until the allowable catch is met and the commercial harvest season is closed. The SAFMC is working on a long-term plan to allow some annual catches of red snapper as the population continues to grow.

FWC researchers appreciate all the anglers and captains taking time to participate in surveys and for allowing biologists to sample their catch. The red snapper sampling effort on the east coast of Florida is a great example of scientists and fishermen working together to collect high-quality data needed to manage Florida’s fisheries.

Additional information:
Atlantic red snapper regulations

NOAA Fisheries – South Atlantic Red Snapper Regulations FAQ PDF icon 

NOAA Fisheries Southeast Fishery Bulletin – Announcement of the 2013 Season PDF icon

Fishing resource information, including fish identification guidance and catch-and-release tips

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