According to a news release this month from the state’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, preliminary numbers from the Alabama Red Snapper Reporting System — also known as Snapper Check — seem to shoot down the belief that anglers would exceed the 2017 quota.
“Using the Alabama Snapper Check numbers, we’re going to be well within the historic allocation for Alabama, so the 39-day season did not put us over, which was a concern for the commercial fishing community and part of the charter fishing community,” said Scott Bannon, acting director of the Alabama Marine Resources Division (MRD). “Now the concern we have is what the MRIP [Marine Recreational Information Program] numbers will show, and those numbers are not out yet.”
According to MRD officials, the federally produced MRIP numbers for red snapper caught by private recreational anglers have consistently overestimated the harvest. The federal survey harvest numbers were off by 81 percent in 2014, 68 percent in 2015 and 79 percent in 2016 when compared to Snapper Check numbers.
The 2017 total catch according to Snapper Check showed the charter industry — not including head boats, which take recreational fishermen out for a fee per person — and private recreational anglers landed 1,649,242 pounds of red snapper. Kevin Anson, MRD’s chief biologist, said the total breaks down to 790,382 pounds for the charter-for-hire industry and 858,860 pounds for private recreational anglers.
The Gulfwide red snapper quota for 2017 for the recreational sector was 6,603,094 pounds. Past records show Alabama lands 30 percent to 35 percent of the Gulf’s total snapper catch. The artificial reef program that began off the Alabama coast in the 1950s is given credit for this output.
Anson, a proxy member of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, said Alabama has worked closely with NOAA Fisheries staff and their consultants in the development of the Snapper Check system. They are hoping the program will be approved for use in the management process.
NOAA Fisheries extended the federal season from June 1-3 to an additional 39 weekend and holiday days when states agreed to limit or eliminate state season days. Although the 2017 federal season was more than three times longer than in 2016, the number of fishing trips with red snapper did not increase by the same amount. Private recreational anglers took an estimated 79,176 snapper trips during the 2017 federal season, according to Anson. During the 2016 federal season, the total number of private recreational trips was estimated at 35,191.
“Yes, there were more angler trips in 2017, but these trips did not have the same level of angler harvest rates or the same size of fish,” Anson said. “We had smaller fish landed in 2017 versus 2016. This year’s numbers showed an average of 1.7 harvested fish [two-fish limit] per angler. We felt a lot of that was people were going the shortest distance from shore where they felt they could get fish they wanted to keep. If they didn’t want to get the maximum limit and were fine with a 5-pound fish, they went eight to 10 miles. They just went fishing instead of catching. We think that’s the way the fishery has morphed in the last few years.”
• Three University of South Alabama (USA) football players have been honored this season. Gus Nave earned the Sun Belt Conference’s Special Teams Player of the Week after the freshman returned a blocked punt 83 yards for a touchdown in the Jaguars’ win over Alabama A&M.
Meanwhile, Jeremy Reaves is one of 30 NCAA student-athletes named a candidate for the 2017 Senior CLASS Award. To be eligible, the student-athlete must be classified as a senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition.
Finally, offensive lineman Harrison Louden is among the semifinalists for The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame’s William V. Campbell Trophy. The NFF will announce finalists for the award — which recognizes an individual as the absolute best football scholar-athlete in the nation — on Nov. 1, with each receiving an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship.
• Spring Hill College’s volleyball team has received several individual honors from the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Sarah Senft was named Co-Offensive Player of the Week while Cassidi Sterrett earned the defensive player award. Allison Weimer was Newcomer of the Week while Emmarose Neibert was Setter of the Week.
• The Southern States Athletic Conference has recognized several members of the University of Mobile volleyball team. Annie Kate Hudson has been named Setter of the Week five times this year while Jocelyn Mahayag has twice been selected for defensive honors. Hannah Wentland received her first Attacker of the Week honor, and teammate Alex Karcher was picked for the Faulkner University All-Tournament team.
• The University of Mobile (UM) has been named a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Five-Star Institution for the fourth consecutive school year. After earning bronze-star honors the past two years, the Rams elevated themselves to one of the 76 silver-star recipients in 2016-17.
• Three USA soccer players have claimed SBC Offensive Player of the Week honors this season. The trio includes senior Tiina Trutsi, sophomore Kory Dixon and senior Rio Hardy.
• The USA baseball team has opened fall practice. The Jaguars will conclude drills with a Red-Blue series on Friday, Nov. 10, that will include three games starting at 3:30 p.m. USA returns eight position starters from last year’s SBC Tournament champion.
• The sixth annual Ram Run 5K and Fun Run will be Saturday, Oct. 28, on the UM campus. The certified 5K begins at 8 a.m., followed by the .75-mile Fun Run at 9 a.m. To register in advance, visit umobile.edu/ramrun. Registration will also be available before the race.
Entry fees prior to race day are $20 for adults, $15 for youth ages 10 and under, $15 for UM faculty and staff, and $10 for UM students. Day-of registration is $25 for adults, $20 for youth ages 10 and under, $20 for UM faculty and staff, and $15 for UM students. For more information, contact Lauren McCaghren at 251-442-2226 or firstname.lastname@example.org.