The SAFMC said the National Marine Fisheries Service had delayed the opening of the season, which had been part of an amendment to the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper Grouper Fishery. Once new dates are set, a bulletin will be sent to give fishermen a 30-day notice of the opening of the season.
The original plan gave fishermen Friday-through-Sunday seasons beginning July 12, with a one-fish daily creel limit for recreational fishermen. The proposed season was part of Amendment 28 to the Snapper Grouper Fishery's FMP, and filed in late April, it set in motion a series of events that could make the short seasons annual events.
Scientists at NOAA Fisheries determined in 2012 that the predicted recovery of red snapper was progressing faster than anticipated because of lower release mortality, and that a limited season would not slow the species' recovering.
The guidelines in Amendment 28 would open the season the second Friday in July, and that an end date would be announced with the opening date was announced. The 20-inch total minimum size limit would be elimintated, and commercial fishermen could begin fishing the second Monday in July with a trip limit of 75 pounds gutted weight.
While the announcement on June 28 did not elaborate, expectations are the remaining guidelines will remain the same when the season is established.
For more information visit the SAFMC website at www.safmc.net or www.nmfs.noaa.gov or contact Rick DeVictor at Rick.DeVictor@noaa.gov or 727-824-5305.