Federal fisheries managers have decided to remove the annual Nov. 1-March 31 closure of recreational fishing for vermilion snapper because of the latest population assessment.
Fishermen in the South Atlantic area will still operate with a daily creel limit of five fish and a 12-inch size minimum under regulations that became effective on Sept. 5.
The annual catch limit for vermilion snapper will increase from 1.06 milion to 1,37 million pounds. Commercial fishermen will get slightly more than two-thirds of the catch, while recreational fishermen getting 439,040 pounds. The commercial trip limit will be reduced from 1,000 to 500 pounds when fisheries managers project that 75 percent of the annual catch limit has been caught.
But it’s not all good news. The red porgy (pink snapper) numbers are not as promising, and while the creel limit and size minimum will remain at three per day and 14 inches, the overall catch limit will decrease.
The assessment for red porgy led to a reduction of 22.5 percent in the annual catch limit. This lowered the annual catch limit from 395,304 pounds whole weight to 306,000 pounds whole weight. This poundage will be split evenly between commercial and recreational fishermen, with each group receiving 153,000 pounds whole weight. The recreational bag limit will remain at 3 red porgy per person per day and the minimum size will remain at 14 inches.
More information on Regulatory Amendment 18 to the Snapper Grouper Fishery may be found at the NOAA Fisheries Southeast Region Web Site (http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov) or at the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council web site (www.safmc.net).