Posted on April 6, 2018 | governor.alabama.gov
MONTGOMERY – Governor Kay Ivey on Friday announced that the National Marine Fisheries Service has granted Alabama’s request for an Exempted Fishing Permit, thereby allowing the state of Alabama to manage the recreational red snapper fishing dates for 2018 and 2019.
“I am very pleased that the U.S. Department of Commerce, through the National Marine Fisheries Service, has granted Alabama an Exempted Fishing Permit for the next two red snapper seasons,” Governor Ivey commented. “Following the directives from President Trump to cut down on federal regulations, this decision empowers Alabama to manage our resources instead of bureaucrats in Washington. Due to this exemption, I have instructed the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to set the 2018 season to 47 days. This season will allow recreational anglers five more days to fish for red snapper compared to last year. I am proud we have been able to expand the red snapper season, which is a critical part of Alabama’s recreation and tourism industry.”
Alabama and federal waters will be open for red snapper fishing every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from June 1st through September 2nd. Red snapper landings will also be allowed July 2-5 and Labor Day. The bag limit will remain two per person with a 16-inch minimum length.
The Exempted Fishing Permits (EFPs) were made possible through language authored by U.S. Senator Richard Shelby in the FY2017 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill that directed the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Marine Fisheries Service to develop the fishery management pilot program allowing states to direct reef fish management activities.
“The red snapper fishery means so much to the coastal culture and economy of Alabama,” Governor Ivey added. “I appreciate the work of Senator Shelby and Congressman Byrne on this vital issue. The entire state of Alabama is also indebted to Conservation and Natural Resources Commissioner Chris Blankenship, as this exemption would not have happened without his leadership and his tireless advocacy for Alabama. I am proud of the work Commissioner Blankenship is doing, and I am honored to have him as a part of my cabinet.”
“The red snapper management granted by the EFP will allow Alabama to use the information from the Alabama Snapper Check Program, as well as the terabytes of fisheries data we have collected on the red snapper population in the Alabama Artificial Reef Zones, to show we can sustainably manage this fishery,” said Chris Blankenship, Commissioner of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. “I would like to thank Marine Resources Division Director Scott Bannon and Chief Biologist Kevin Anson for shepherding the permit request through the regulatory process.”
The federal charter season for red snapper is not included in Alabama’s new permit and is expected to be announced by NOAA Fisheries sometime in April 2018. The federal charter season for red snapper is expected to be longer than the federal charter season in 2017.
Fishermen are reminded that they are still required to report their red snapper harvest through the Alabama Snapper Check Program. The data collected through the Alabama Snapper Check Program the past four years was critical in securing the additional red snapper fishing days. Only one report is required per vessel trip, and anglers can provide details via a smartphone app available under “Outdoor Alabama” in the iTunes or Google Play app stores; online at www.outdooralabama.com; or by paper forms available at select coastal public boat launches.