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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Anglers gear up for snapper season

Red snapper are perhaps the most favored and most controversial of all the fish in the Gulf. Every year there's a tug-of-war between conservation and recreation. This year is no different, as the season has been shortened by more than three weeks. It will begin on June 1st this year.
Most of Captiain Clay Blankenship’s charters are inshore, but at the start of red snapper season on June 1st, he’ll be headed for deeper water.
”Opening day, I’ll definitely be out there. Whether they get an inshore charter or not, I’m going to take them out there and pull on some,” Blakenship said.
While the start of season hasn't changed, the length has. This year’s season will end July 19, making it more than three weeks shorter than in years past.
”This year’s season - the 2011 season - will be the shortest season yet ... 48 days,” said Kevin Anson with Alabama Marine Resources.
Anson said the season is figured on an assessment taken every five years, which is fed into a model to determine how many snapper can be caught. He said the current system doesn’t allow for year-to-year fixes, and the next assessment isn’t scheduled until 2013.
”In that five year period, there may be some increases to the population that just won’t be picked up because the information is based on some previous data,” Anson said.
Anson added that research done by the Dauphin Island Sea Lab shows a healthy abundance of adult red snapper, but that won’t change what you can catch this year.
To be legal, the red snapper that are caught have to be a minimum of 16 inches long, and only two can be caught per day. There is also a possession limit of two, so if you go out on a multi-day trip, no matter how many days you’re out, you’re only allowed to come back with two red snapper.
If you decide to flaunt the law, be prepared. It could cost you as much as $500 per fish.

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