Fishermen better be good and quick if they want to catch themselves a red snapper dinner this year. NOAA Fisheries announced last Friday that South Atlantic States will get a 3-day recreational season for red snapper Aug. 23-25, with a one-fish daily creel limit.

The commercial red snapper season is marginally better, but not much. It will open at 12:01 a.m. on Aug. 26 and will close when fishery managers project that the annual catch limit will be filled. The daily commercial trip limit is 75 pounds (gutted weight), and as is the case with recreational fishermen, there will be no minimum size limit.


The 2013 commercial and recreational annual catch limits for red snapper are 21,447 pounds gutted weight (commercial) and 9,585 fish (recreational). The sector annual catch limits are based upon allocations previously decided by the SAFMC.


The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council had originally proposed a series of 3-day (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) recreational seasons beginning July 12, but the National Marine Fisheries Service announced June 30 they were delaying the opening of those seasons until August.


Many fishermen are already writing this off as the typical “Much ado about nothing” that has been a trademark of NOAA Fisheries, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) for the past few years. The red snapper seasons were set by provisions included in Amendment 28 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic.


Two charterboat operators, who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisal, said bookings for the previously announced July weekends were cancelled when fishermen backed out because the red snapper fishing was postponed, and that with the Aug. 23-25 dates have already booked by others, they may lose the original fishermen who wanted to target red snapper.

NOAA fisheries also said it could change the commercial and recreational season dates if severe weather conditions exist.