Thirty-nine days. That’s how long the red snapper fishing season was extended … which, if you don’t know much about fishing seasons might not sound like a lot. BUT. The season was supposed to be three days. Yea, three!
Why the extension, and why should you care?
The U.S. Department of Commerce, along with the five gulf states, decided to extend the private angler red snapper fishing season to last a full 42 days because “the economic benefit is greater than the harm to the species.”
Two environmental groups—the Ocean Conservancy and the Environmental Defense Fund—have filed suit claiming the administration knew the extension would lead to substantial overfishing and that the decision to extend the season violated several laws by disregarding scientific assessments, promoting overfishing, and the failure to follow procedures.
“Back room deal on red snapper is bad for fishing and fishery recovery.” —Charter Fisherman’s Association and Environmental Defense Fund
“It (extending the season) would result in overfishing of the stock by six million pounds (40%), which will draw criticism from environmental groups and commercial fishermen,” Director of Policy and Strategic Planning for Commerce Earl Comstock, said in a memo intended for his boss, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.
The memo also says that the National Marine Fisheries Service “agrees that this stock could handle this level on a temporary basis.”
In accordance with the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch, most snapper caught in Hawaii, the U.S. Southeast Atlantic and the U.S. Gulf of Mexico is “Best Choice” or “Good Alternative.” So enjoy your snapper this year, but keep an eye out for potential changes to the recommendations should the species not recover as fast as the NMFS suggests.
Featured photo by Geeklikepi [CC BY-SA 3.0 creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]