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Mississippi Opens Additional Red Snapper Season In State Waters In July

By Evelina Burnett | Published 27 Jun 2014 08:22am | comments
Red snapper. (Source: NOAA Fishwatch via Wikipedia)

Mississippi will open state waters for red snapper fishing during weekends in July. The decision by the Department of Marine Resources comes as new regulations are being considered gulf-wide. 

Red snapper is a popular fish, so many fishermen and charter boat captains were upset when the federal recreational season was cut to just nine days this year. On Thursday, Alabama and then Mississippi joined the three other gulf states in extending the snapper season in their state waters.

"Mississippi doesn't want to be playing catch up," said Mississippi Department of Marine Resources director Jamie Miller. "I value our resources and our economy and fishermen, and we're not going to be left behind."

Miller says the agency has to do what's right for Mississippi anglers. However, he thinks it's unlikely the change will affect the length of next year's federal season. 

"Mississippi's red snapper fishery plays such a small role in landings that we don't anticipate having a real impact," he says. "Alabama, Texas, Louisiana, Florida obviously play a bigger role in this fishery, so we don't anticipate any negative feedback."

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council this week discussed a change that could decrease the amount of red snapper available to commercial fishermen, who supply restaurants and stores.

Mike Cashion, director of the Mississippi Hospitality and Restaurant Association, says he's concerned this could push up the price of the popular fish.

"And as tight as the economy is right now and as much as all proteins have been going up in price, we're just concerened that reducing the availability of the commercial product could have an adverse effect on price, which would ultimately affect the restaurants and the consumer," he says. 

But Johnny Marquez, director of the Coastal Conservation Association Mississippi, says it makes sense to allocate more red snapper for recreational fishermen.

"And as the fishery continues to grow and the number of anglers that participate continues to grow, how we allocate that fishery should also change and take those factors into consideration," he says.

Yesterday, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery council decided to hold off on making a decison on the red snapper change until, at least, later this year.

 

Full press release from the Department of Marine Resources about the opening:

MS to open red snapper season in July

BILOXI, Miss. – MDMR Executive Director Jamie Miller said Thursday that Mississippi anglers will be allowed to harvest red snapper in state waters every weekend in July.

Miller announced his decision Thursday afternoon after the Commission on Marine Resources voted 3-0 to give him the authority to open a season in state waters.

"I value the relationship we have with our federal partners," Miller said, "but at the end of the day, our agency must do what is right for Mississippi anglers."

The nine miles of Mississippi waters will be open for red snapper fishing on July 4-6, 11-13, 18-20 and 25-27. The bag limit will be two red snapper per person with a minimum size of 16 inches.

The federal red snapper season lasted from June 1-9.

In 2012 the Mississippi Legislature approved extending state waters to nine miles for fisheries management, and the law went into effect July 1, 2013. However, fishermen are reminded that the federal government does not recognize this distance, and anyone possessing red snapper farther than three miles south of the barrier islands could receive citations from federal or state law enforcement officers. Fishing between three and nine miles in Mississippi waters is at the angler's own risk.

Officials with the Department of Marine Resources are asking fishermen to participate in the agency's voluntary red snapper reporting program during the July season. They can report their catch on the agency's website, dmr.ms.gov, or fill out an information card that is available at local bait shops. Those with iPhones can download a red snapper app on iTunes.

The response to the voluntary reporting program during the June season was excellent, said Joe Jewell, director of the Office of Fisheries for MDMR, and he wants to see that same level of participation in July.

"The continued participation of our anglers in the voluntary red snapper reporting program will provide essential data to the DMR," Jewell said, "which will allow informed and responsible decisions to be made in a timely manner to ensure the sustainability of Mississippi's red snapper resource."

 

Images

Red snapper. (Source: NOAA Fishwatch via Wikipedia)


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