Harvesting red snapper in federal waters off the south Atlantic coast has been strictly regulated since 2010.
Some fishing guides in Florida’s Jacksonville area say that the restrictions need to be lifted some.
“There are places I don’t even fish anymore,” says Capt. Robert Johnson, a fishing guide in St. Augustine. “Why go there? You won’t catch anything but red snapper.”
Government restrictions went into place after years of overfishing the species. Anglers can catch and release red snapper, and over the past three summers, limited harvests were allowed.
However, the government says that too many red snapper were taken in 2014 to allow anglers to keep any this year.
Commercial and recreational anglers see things differently. They say that the red snapper is having a “banner year.”
Those who back the current management plan say that the numbers of red snapper around the Jacksonville area is in the species’ habitat range.
In addition, while commercial anglers must follow strict reporting guidelines, recreational anglers do not.
NOAA Fisheries will hold a workshop in November to decide how it will calculate its assessment of the red snapper population.
Editor’s note: A previous version of this post included a quote from Trip Aukeman, who reached out to clear the misinterpretation of the Florida CCA’s stance depicted by the Florida Times Union.