BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Mississippi's Red Snapper season opens Friday, May 25, for private recreational anglers and state for-hire vessels in state and federal waters.
Private recreational anglers can fish out to 200 nautical miles. Vessels with state for-hire permits can fish in state territorial waters, which is nine nautical miles from the barrier islands.
The season will be open seven days a week and is scheduled to run from May 25 through Sept. 3. There's a possibility for a closure from July 9-22 in order to ensure the state's annual quota is not met before Labor Day. But that decision will depend on the number of pounds caught before July 4.
The season will close if the assigned quota for recreational fishermen or state for-hire fishermen is reached at any point after the season opens. It also will close if the Gulf-wide quota is reached.
Mississippi's quota is 137,949 pounds, with the quota for recreational fishermen set at 135,149 pounds and the state for-hire quota set at 2,800 pounds. MDMR will manage each group's allotment individually.
In April, NOAA announced that for-hire vessels with federal permits can fish for Red Snapper from June 1 through July 22. The federal season begins at 12:01 a.m. Friday, June 1, and runs through 12:01 a.m. Sunday, June 22. Vessels with a federal permit can fish out to 200 nautical miles.
All anglers must register their trips through MDMR's Tails n' Scales program, which is available through a smartphone app, a website and a call center. Anglers must create a profile and start a trip before going fishing for Red Snapper. They must have a trip number when they are out on the water. They also must report their catch within 24 hours and close out one trip before creating a new one.
"The data that we collect through the Tails n' Scales program allows us to closely monitor the harvest," said Matt Hill, director of MDMR's Finfish Bureau.
"This provides a season that gives Mississippi anglers more opportunity and greater flexibility to harvest Red Snapper."
Marine Patrol Chief Keith Davis said anglers who are caught fishing without registering their trip will not receive a warning.
"Anyone harvesting Red Snapper who doesn't have an authorization number will be fined, and our officers will confiscate their fish," he said.
The Tails n' Scales app is available in iTunes and Google Play, and the website is tailsnscales.org. Fishermen also can call 228-697-5762 to register a trip or if they need to report any issues with the app. Anyone using the app must download the latest update before creating a trip this year.