During a conference meeting today, the Mobile County Commission adopted a resolution in support of extending the federal season for recreational red snapper fishing, which at just three days this year, will be the shortest season in recorded history.
In federal waters, which begin nine miles from the coastline, the length of red snapper season is set annually by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) through the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council based on assessments of the population.In early May, the council announced the 2017 recreational season would run for just three days starting June 1 and ending June 4. The charter-for-hire season will run 49 days from the same date, and daily limits will remain the same — two fish per person, at a minimum size of 16 inches in length.
However, the continuing trend of shorter seasons has already prompted impassioned responses from Gulf Coast officials in Washington, Montgomery and locally. On Thursday, Mobile County commissioners added their names to that growing list through a resolution sent to U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne as well as U.S. Sens. Richard Shelby and Luther Strange.
Commissioner Jerry Carl, whose District 3 includes Dauphin Island and Bayou la Batre, noted that extending the season is supported not only by recreational anglers but also environmental experts and state data as well. During the meeting, he criticized the local control he feels the Gulf Coast has lost to Washington.“Again we see another branch of our government that is totally out of touch with ‘We the People,’” Carl said. “These fisheries are ours, not some group of bureaucrats that wants to show their control.”
The resolution described red snapper fishing as a “major tourism attraction for the Alabama Gulf Coast” — one that has an economic benefit to coastal communities and counties “in the hundreds of millions of dollars.” Commissioners wrote that having such a drastically shortened season would negatively impact these areas.”
In addition to the financial impact, District 2 Commissioner Connie Hudson said if people from around the state rush to take advantage of such a short season, the influx of traffic could strain infrastructure and cause more dangerous conditions on local roadways.
“A longer season increases the leisure time and lessens the danger,” she added. “This will be especially important if any of the allowed days is a bad weather day.”
While the snapper season in federal waters has been shortened yet again, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) is extending the harvest of red snapper in state waters (out to nine miles) by one day compared to last year.
In March, ADCNR Commissioner Gunter Guy announced the 2017 season in state waters would run from Friday, May 26, through Monday, July 31.