This is from a NOAA representative on the SSC, in regards to a longer red snapper season being possible, IF the bag limit is reduced from 2 fish per day to 1.
“We predicted ~30+ days in A40. If catch rates are similar this year compared to last year than you could be looking at 45+ days with a 1 fish bag limit. If fishermen compensate for the lower bag limit by harvesting larger fish then the season lengthen will obviously not be as long. I expect that would be the case for many trips.”
If the limit stays at 2 fish, the season could run 25 days – which is still a lot longer than last year’s 9 day season, but remember, this is for a fish that just about everyone admits is fully recovered, and more.
Since red snapper are primarily a “food fish”, and the survival rate for released snapper is dismal – how many of us will be spending the money in this economy to either charter a boat or put fuel in our private boat to catch 1 snapper per person per trip? Unless you consider a couple of snapper just a bonus catch while primarily after king mackerel or some other species (not triggerfish, since they will be off limits). Many years ago NOAA/NMFS had the bright idea to impose an 18″ MINIMUM size limit on red snapper, which resulted in dead 14 – 17″ snapper floating all over the Gulf! Fortunately, the fact that this policy killed many more snapper than having a 14″ limit was seen, but a one fish limit could have much the same result, as anglers cull their catch to keep only the largest snapper of the day.
Hey, why don’t we just have a zero snapper per day limit? Or, if we just use computers to do our figuring, maybe even a minus fish limit? If all red snapper anglers were required to take a set number of live snapper with them on each trip to be released, I bet there would soon be a computer model that calculated a huge increase in red snapper in the Gulf?