NOAA Fisheries Increases Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper Quota and Sets 2013 Federal Recreational Season

NOAA Fisheries announces a final rule for Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper. The rule sets the 2013 quotas for commercial and recreational red snapper harvest. The agency is increasing the quota because the population is growing. The red snapper overall quota will increase from the 2012 8.080 million pounds whole weight to 8.460 pounds whole weight for 2013.

The red snapper political football season is on! Despite admitting that the snapper population is, to put it mildly, in a rebound, NMFS is sticking with it’s decision as voiced by Dr. Roy Crabtree, to “punish” the states of Texas, Louisiana, and Florida for having the audacity to try to properly manage red snapper in their state waters, instead of helping NMFS and it’s various supporting groups in their quest to end salt water fishing as we once knew it. The NMFS justification is that by allowing fishing for red snapper in their state waters when the feds have closed fishing in federal waters, the quota balance gets all messed up, and more red snapper are caught than were allowed in the annual quota. Of course, officials of the state of Texas realize that there just aren’t that many red snapper living within 9 miles of the Texas shoreline, since they are a reef fish that prefers , well, reefs – which are found in deeper water.

It is important to note both that Texas and Louisiana are in the process of filing a lawsuit against NMFS – AND ROY CRABTREE – for this action, and that there is a bill before Congress to do much the same thing as the proposed court action. Letters, emails, and even phone calls to elected representatives are need more than ever at this point.

It is also important to remember that the reason red snapper have rebounded is because fishermen have patiently and obediently gone along with extremely harsh restrictions for red snapper for many years – largely for the promise of more liberal limits when the stock was rebuilt – a promise that NMFS now obviously has no intention to honor.

For the crime of leading the other two “rebel” states by example, Texas will get the shortest snapper season of all – and this will be in federal waters off our coast.

Recreational Season
The federal recreational season for Gulf of Mexico red snapper begins June 1, 2013, with a 2-fish bag limit. During development of this final rule, NOAA Fisheries re-calculated the projected 2013 red snapper recreational season lengths off each Gulf state using updated recreational landings data as well as new information from Louisiana and Texas. The method for calculating the dates for the federal season for each state are available online at

2013 Season Lengths
Mississippi and Alabama: In federal and state waters off Mississippi and Alabama due to consistent regulations, the season will be 34 days and close on July 5, 2013, at 12:01 a.m., local time.
Texas: In federal waters off Texas due to inconsistent regulations, the season will be 17 days, and close on June 18, 2013, at 12:01 a.m., local time. Texas state waters are open all year for recreational red snapper fishing with a four-fish bag limit.
Louisiana: In federal waters off Louisiana due to inconsistent regulations, the season will be 24 days, and close on June 25, 2013, at 12:01 a.m., local time. Louisiana state waters are open weekends only (Friday, Saturday, Sunday), March 23 – September 30, 2013, with a three-fish bag limit.
Florida: In federal waters off Florida due to inconsistent regulations, the season will be 26 days and close on June 27, 2013, at 12:01 a.m., local time. Florida state waters are open June 1 – July 14, 2013, with a two-fish bag limit.
The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council will review the 2013 red snapper population assessment during their June meeting in Pensacola, FL. The council may request an emergency rule to increase the quota again based on the new scientific information and request NOAA Fisheries to reopen the recreational season for red snapper later in the year.

Electronic copies of the documents are available.

(Editor’s Note: Anyone who believes the feds have accurate catch and population data for red snapper – or any other species – has not had much experience dealing with these people.)

About MikeH

Texas hunter and fisherman for 50 years, published outdoor writer since 1979, licensed charter boat operator from 1982 to 2013. Past Member, Board of Directors, National Association of Charterboat Operators, current member Environmental Advisory Committee to the DOE and the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Married to Dorothy since 2000, one son, Michael who is recently married and living in Nederland, Texas. My wife and I live in Oyster Creek, Texas, near Freeport, and have a hunting property outside of Brazoria, Texas.
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  1. Frank T says:

    Crabtree needs to be gotten rid of, he is grabbing numbers out of the air.

  2. Oscar Herdocia says:

    This regulations are ridiculous. It is time for us to organize and remove the individuals responsibles from this infringement to our rights out of their offices.
    I wander, what is their motivation.
    Please identify these individuals so that we vote them or their bosses out of office.

  3. MikeH says:

    Obviously, I agree. Having been involved in the fight over red snapper regulations for a long, long time, I appreciate your feelings. The main “culprit” – although he could be a scapegoat – is Dr. Roy Crabtree, the National Marine Fisheries Services representative to the Gulf Council. My best suggestion would be to contact your representative in Congress about the situation.

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