Recreational Gulf anglers could soon get their wish of an expanded 2017 red snapper season in federal waters.
The original three-day season announced in May was criticized by the recreational sector as being far too short.
While federal scientists believe snapper numbers are too low to support an extended season, recreational fishermen have believed that the federal numbers were off.
Now after talks with the U.S. Department of Commerce, which oversees the National Marine Fisheries Service, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) believes there is an opportunity for an expanded federal red snapper season this summer.
“Red snapper is a popular and economically important species in Florida, and the FWC is committed to providing as much sustainable recreational fishing opportunity as possible,” said Nick Wiley, FWC executive director, in a press release.
On June 9, the Florida FWC held a special meeting to discuss the possible changes and invited public comment during the week and also during the meeting through electronic means.
During the meeting the majority of commissioners voiced approval for the changes, and also stated that the majority of public input that they have received was favorable towards the proposal of a day swap strategy.
If a deal is reached between federal and state official there will be a straight day swap between state and federal waters.
For each day the federal season is extended, the state would lose a day of their 78-day season within state waters.
According to an FWC release, days added to the federal season will be on weekends and holidays, with days subtracted from the state’s tally falling during the week.
“We are excited to be working toward the potential expansion of recreational red snapper fishing opportunities off Florida and across the Gulf,” said Brian Yablonski, the chairman of the FWC Commission.
Florida official will go back to the negotiating table with other Gulf states and the federal government to further explore additional federal red snapper days.
A final decision is expected by Wednesday.
If a change is made it would come in the form of an executive order from Wylie and could go into effect as soon as the weekend.
Changes would also only apply to recreational anglers fishing off of privately owned vessels. There will be no change to the commercial and for-hire seasons.
The three-day 2017 season was the shortest in history following a nine-day 2016 season.
Federal officials announced on Wednesday an additional 39 days of federal red snapper fishing available to private anglers.
The added days will fall on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from June 16 through September 4.
Additionally Monday, July 3 and Tuesday, July 4 will be open along with Monday, September 4.
The addition will remove those days from the state red snapper season.