The U.S. Secretary of Commerce has approved a request by NOAA Fisheries to allow limited harvest of red snapper in the federal waters of the South Atlantic. Anglers can harvest red snapper August 23 through 25. Each angler is allowed one red snapper per day with no size restriction.

Georgia DNR is working with NOAA Fisheries in an effort to collect data on the South Atlantic red snapper population.  These data will be used to estimate harvest, discards, and fishing effort and to determine the age, size, and growth of red snapper in the population.  There are several ways that Georgia anglers can help.

Anglers can place filleted red snapper carcasses in chest freezers located at fishing access points along the Georgia coast (go to www.coastalgadnr.org to find a list of locations). One lucky angler who participates in this special effort will receive a $100 Bass Pro Shops gift card. Over the past decade, the Marine Sportfish Carcass Recovery Project has collected thousands of fish carcasses that help inform biologists of the size, age and sex of saltwater fish being harvested by anglers.  Each freezer has catch cards and plastic bags to be used by participating anglers.

Anglers can also provide information about their red snapper fishing trip by going to www.coastalgadnr.org and completing a short survey. The survey includes questions about the date of trip, length of trip and departure location, as well as depth fished and the number and size of fish harvested and released.

Finally, CRD staff will be conducting routine interviews at boating access points so they can intercept red snapper anglers to collect information on their fishing trip and catch. Anglers are encouraged to participate in these dockside surveys by answering questions and allowing their catch to be processed for biological data.

“Angler reports and our underwater observations during artificial reef monitoring indicate there are large numbers of red snapper at several locations offshore Georgia. So, anglers will probably not have difficulty catching their one fish limit. Studies show that post-release mortality for red snapper averages 40% (4 out of 10 released red snapper die) so we hope that anglers will cease fishing for red snapper once everyone onboard has their limit,” explains Spud Woodward, director of the Coastal Resources Division. “If anglers elect to stay in the area to fish for other bottom-dwelling species, they should be prepared to release any incidentally-caught red snapper as soon as possible. Recent research has shown that bottom-dwelling species like red snapper survive much better when returned to the bottom instead of released at the surface. Recompressing, as this technique is known, is better than venting, which has been the norm for many years.”  Information on recompression techniques and equipment can be found at www.fishsmart.org.

The recreational harvest of red snapper in federal waters will be allowed from 12:01 a.m., local time, on August 23, 2013 until midnight, August 26, 2013.  During the open recreational season, the bag limit is one fish per person per day and there is no minimum size limit.

The commercial harvest of red snapper in federal waters opens at 12:01 a.m., local time, on August 26, 2013. The commercial season will end when the annual catch limit is projected to be met; NOAA Fisheries will announce the closure in their publication “Southeast Fishery Bulletin.” During the open commercial season, the daily trip limit is 75 pounds gutted weight and there is no minimum size limit for red snapper.

More information on red snapper regulations in federal waters can be found at www.safmc.net.

Logo courtesy Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Coastal Resources Division

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