NOAA’s Southeast Regional Office announced Friday afternoon that there would be no red snapper season for commercial and recreational fishermen in 2015 because the total number of red snapper removed from the population in 2014 exceeded the allowable level.
Red snapper fishing remains open year-round in Florida waters, which are upto 3 miles out on the Atlantic side and out to 9 miles on the Gulf Coast.
The move is a contentious one for anglers along the Space Coast, where it is nearly impossible to go bottom fishing without landing multiple fish that would meet Florida’s 20-inch minimum size limit.
In 2013, the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council developed and NOAA Fisheries implemented, a standardized process that specifies harvest may only occur in a given year if total removals (landings plus dead discards) in the previous year were less than the number allowed for population rebuilding under The Magnuson–Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. The total removals allowable for 2014 were 106,000 fish. After evaluating landings and discard information for 2014, NOAA Fisheries has determined the estimates of total removals were 205,859 fish; therefore, the fishery remains closed in 2015.
The process will be repeated in 2016 to determine if there will be a season in South Atlantic Federal waters in 2016. The next assessment of the South Atlantic red snapper population is scheduled to be completed in 2016 and allowable harvest may change as a result of the population assessment.