This video was taken at an oil and gas platform off Freeport, Texas on May 18, 2012. If you know what a red snapper looks like, you know you are looking at a massive school of them! And there are also multiple year classes visible, with a nice school of 10-15 pounders in view at the end of the clip. Both rigs I dove at that day were loaded with red snapper. In fact, they’ve been loaded with red snapper for years!
This year, the season for red snapper in federal waters is a ridiculously short 40 days, and you can only keep 2 over 16 inches. This is the shortest season ever! I hope there will be a grassroots effort soon demanding better sport fish regulations for red snapper. I don’t mind having a season, but a 40 day, 2 fish minimum is foolish. The season should be extended, and I think the limit should be increased to 5 snapper of any size, with the stipulation that you have to keep the first 5 you catch and then stop snapper fishing. Everybody who has any experience snapper fishing knows that if you send a squid-baited hook to the bottom next to an oil platform in federal waters off Texas, you will have a snapper biting before you can engage the gears on your level wind. It has been that way as long as I can remember, and I am sick of catching 99% red snapper when I bottom fish near an oil platform, and only being allowed to keep certain sizes over an ever-shortening season! Plus, it is just common sense that a red snapper that has been hauled up from 75+ feet deep has a much lower chance of survival upon release than say, a largemouth bass from Lake Conroe. When people go snapper fishing, they are not normally going for a catch and release excursion, it is catch, keep and eat! The current rules are not designed to benefit either the fish,the angler, or coastal economies, and that needs to change.
There are plenty of snapper out there, let’s get the rules changed, now! The majority of fishermen are responsible enough to comply with the foolish regulations we have now; there’s no reason to expect we would have a massive decline in snapper if we had a June 1-Sep. 30 season, with a “keep the first five, any size” limit. If you agree that the rules need changing, share this video with others and spread the word! Here is contact information for the Gulf Council: 2203 N Lois Avenue, Suite 1100, Tampa, Florida 33607 USA. Phone:813-348-1630; Toll Free: 888-833-1844; Fax: 813-348-1711; Email: email@example.com.
Kindly but clearly let them know you want to see improved fishery management strategies for red snapper. Let them know overprotection is not a good management plan!
Annual commerical and recreational harvest quotas are set by the NOAA Fisheries Service. Their Southeast regional office in St. Petersburg, Florida, is responsible for the Gulf of Mexico red snapper quotas. Call them at (727) 824-5301 and let your voice be heard. Their website is http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/
In America, we have a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, so if folks at NOAA and the Gulf Council are mismanaging an entire fishery, we can motivate them to do better! Please don’t hesitate to contact these folks with some new ideas and let them know their current plan is no good, either for the red snapper, or for the anglers who enjoy them.
To learn more about the foolish methods currently used to determine the red snapper sport fishing season, read these articles by Houston Chronicle outdoor writer Shannon Tompkins:
Also, it should not go unnoticed that the state of Texas, whose waters extend out to 9 nautical miles, has maintained a 4-fish daily limit and 360-day season every year since the federal agencies have been overregulating their waters. The more relaxed Texas limits have obviously not hampered red snapper populations in federal waters!