Fishermen in the Carolinas and other South Atlantic states will have eight days to catch red snapper this month, it was announced in early June.
Federal fisheries managers said the recreational season will be made up of two 3-day weekends and one 2-day weekend: July 11-13, 18-20 and 25-26. Fishing will open at 12:01 a.m. the first day and close at midnight the last day.
The recreational catch limit for 2014 is 22,576 fish. The bag limit is one fish per person per day, and there is no minimum size limit for red snapper.
The 2014 commercial red snapper season will open at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, July 14, with no projected closing date. The commercial catch limit is set at 50,994 pounds gutted weight; the season will close when this limit is estimated to be approached. The commercial daily trip limit is 75 pounds, gutted weight, and there is no minimum size limit.
NOAA Fisheries may change the dates if tropical storm or more severe weather is forecast, or if severe weather conditions exist.
Limited snapper seasons the past several years have been allowed because federal fishery managers found lower-than-expected effort in snapper-grouper fisheries and discard mortality lower than projected. That projects a faster recovery for red snapper and a higher population.
Recreational fishermen didn’t reach their quota in the 2012 and 2013 mini-seasons, so the catch limit for 2014 is more than twice the 2013 allowance.
“I am sure there are some fishermen who will plan trips for the weekends red snapper season will be open, but there aren’t enough we see a noticeable increase on the boat,” said Capt. Dave Tilley of the Continental Shelf head boat in Morehead City, N.C. “I’m sure the weather, which was nasty last year, and the short notice before the seasons open affect this some, too. We know there are some areas that hold more red snapper than others, and we avoid them when the season is closed, but if the weather allows, we’ll include them in the trips on the weekends the season is open.”
Randy Gregory, a fisheries biologist with the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries, said his agency will be collecting red snapper carcasses for research at eight collection centers along the coast. The agency requests that fishermen clean their red snapper, leaving the head and tail intact on the carcass, and deposit them in freezers that will be provided at the sites.
Gregory said the carcass-collection program will operate as it has in the past, with a citation and rewards for bringing a red snapper carcass and filling out the information card. DMF will have carcass collection centers with freezers at eight locations along the coast:
* Hurricane Fleet – 9975 Nance St. – Calabash;
* Ocean Isle Fishing Center – 65 Beach Causeway – Ocean Isle Beach;
* Carolina Beach Fishing Center – 313 Canal Drive – Carolina Beach;
* Tex’s Tackle – 215 Old Eastwood Road – Wilmington;
* Dudley’s Marina – 106 Cedar Point Blvd. – Swansboro;
* Capt. Stacy Fishing Center – 415 Atlantic Beach Causeway – Atlantic Beach;
* Carolina Princess Fishing Center – 604 Evans St. – Morehead City;
* Oden’s Dock – 57878 N.C. Hwy 12 – Hatteras.