In a proclamation dated April 1, Dr. Louis B. Daniel III, Director of the Division of Marine Fisheries, announced the commercial harvest of red drum for the 2007-2008 fishing year will end at 12:00 Noon on April 3.

The reason for closing the season is the annual limit of 250,000 pounds has been caught.  The season for red drum runs from September 1 to August 31 and will remain closed through August 31.  It will be illegal for fishermen to buy, sell, or offer red drum for sale while the season is closed.  Seafood dealers will have until April 15 to sell, offer for sale, transport, or have in possession unfrozen red drum taken prior to the closure.

While the season is closed, it will be unlawful for any commercial fishing operation to possess red drum except that one red drum per person per day may be kept for personal consumption.  Red drum kept for personal consumption must meet the size requirement of being greater than 18 inches and less than 27 inches in length.

Under the guidelines of the Red Drum Fishery Management Plan, the commercial harvest of red drum is a "bycatch fishery" and requires a greater weight of fish harvested in the primary fishery to retain red drum.  When the season is open, commercial fishermen are allowed to possess up to 7 red drum per day, so long as their directed catch is heavier in weight.  When the total harvest for the year reaches 250,000 pounds, as has happened here, the season is closed. 

State law requires fishery management plans to be reviewed after 5 years.  The Red Drum Fishery Management Plan is currently under review and has just wrapped up the last of several public meetings.  The Finfish Advisory Committee is the last advisory committee to discuss the Red Drum Fishery Management Plan and they meet on April 2.  The Red Drum Advisory Committee will then meet on April 15 to discuss the input from the other advisory committees and the public meeting and plans to have their revised plan for the Marine Fisheries Commission to review at their April 22 and 23 meeting.