Friday, June 16, began the first weekend of an additional 39-day season for recreational red snapper fishing in Gulf federal waters and changes to the state season.
The U.S. Department of Commerce announced these expanded fishing opportunities last week, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) followed with an executive order setting the updated season in state waters.
The 39-day season is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from June 16, through Monday, Sept. 4. Also included are Monday and Tuesday, July 3 and 4, and Monday, Sept. 4.
“Recreational red snapper fishing is highly important to Florida’s Gulf coast communities,” said FWC Executive Director Nick Wiley. “We are thankful for the leadership of Gov. Rick Scott, U. S. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Florida’s Congressional delegation as well as the partnership across all five Gulf states in providing more sustainable fishing opportunities and sound fisheries management.”
This is the longest Gulf federal red snapper season since 2013. Beginning last Monday, state waters closed Mondays through Thursdays through Sept. 4, except July 3 and 4.
On June 9, FWC 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. These changes would apply only to recreational anglers fishing from private vessels. No changes to the commercial or recreational for-hire seasons were considered.
The original 2017 federal red snapper season for private recreational anglers in Florida federal waters was June 1-3.
The red snapper season in state waters will now be reduced from their original 78 days, which had been Saturdays and Sundays starting May 6, daily opening May 27 through July 9, and Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in September and October, and on Labor Day
Recent discussions between the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Gulf states indicated there could be a way to add substantial number of additional red snapper fishing days in federal waters this summer, but Florida would have to give days to get days.
Gulf states, including Florida, will be required to align open days for fishing state waters with days that would be open for fishing in federal waters.
“Though we had to reduce state waters fishing days in the summer and fall, we are pleased to be able to offer more fishing access this summer to anglers across Florida,” Wiley said.
“This is great news, especially for anglers on the central and southwest Gulf coast, where red snapper are not commonly found in state waters,” said FWC Vice Chairman Liesa Priddy.