Shortened red snapper season frustrates fishermen

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - This year's fishing season for red snapper will last just 11 days. And that decision has a lot of recreational fishermen upset about the limited opportunity they'll have to catch the popular game fish.

That's why the DMR is holding its first red snapper summit next week, to hear from those recreational anglers.

Recreational and charter boat fishermen enjoyed more than 40 days of red snapper fishing in 2013 and were anticipating this year's season would be about the same. But commercial fishermen won a lawsuit claiming the recreational side isn't accountable enough with its red snapper catch.

That prompted this year's 11 day season and the DMR red snapper summit.

"We've got to look long term at management practices. How we want to manage this fishery? Who do we want to put in charge of that? We feel like the states probably have the best options of managing it. So we'll be inviting all those ideas and discussing them next Tuesday," said DMR Executive Director Jamie Miller.

Fishing data collected by the DMR helps determine the annual quota of red snapper allowed by the federal management program.

"Also some states in the gulf, Texas, Louisiana, Florida have went non-compliant with state seasons, which further reduces the days that our anglers can go fish. So it's a complicated matter," said Director Miller.

"I had a lot of trips booked after the 11 days that I can't run. I'm going to lose between $4,000 and $5,000 on trips that I had, not counting possible trips that I could have booked," said charter boat captain Jay Trochesset.

He said there are plenty of snapper in the gulf to justify a season longer than 11 days.

"It's real frustrating. Because there's more snapper out there than there ever were and the gulf council has no clue. It's just, it's a bad deal for recreational charter fishermen off Mississippi," said Captain Trochesset.

Recreational fishermen and charter boat captains are invited to the DMR's red snapper summit this coming Tuesday, May 6th at 6pm at the Biloxi Civic Center on Howard Avenue.

The length of red snapper season has varied greatly in recent years. In 2007, the season was 180 days long.

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