From: Andy Soos, ENN
Published September 23, 2010 04:56 PM

Red Snapper in the Gulf

NOAA’s Fisheries Service announced today that recreational red snapper fishing in the Gulf of Mexico will reopen for an added season to allow fishermen to catch the quota they did not reach because a portion of the Gulf was closed due to the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill. Recreational fishing will be allowed on Fridays through Sundays for eight weeks, from October 1 through November 21.

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The red snapper is a fish found in the Gulf of Mexico and the southeastern Atlantic coast of the United States.

The red snapper commonly inhabits waters from 30 to 200 feet, but can be caught as deep as 300 feet or more on occasion. They stay relatively close to the bottom, and inhabit rocky bottom, ledges, ridges, and artificial reefs, including offshore oil rigs and shipwrecks.

Coloration of the red snapper is light red, with more intense pigment on the back. Juvenile fish can also have a dark spot on their side which fades with age.

A large portion of the recreational red snapper catch comes from federal waters off Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and the Florida panhandle. When much of this area was closed for the initial June 1 through July 23 recreational red snapper season due to the oil spill, fishermen caught only one third of their 3.4 million pound quota from areas outside the closure.

"We worked closely with the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, fishermen, and the charter and sport fishing industries on this reopening to provide recreational fishermen an opportunity to harvest their full quota this year," said Eric Schwaab, assistant administrator for NOAA’s Fisheries Service. "This new season will be a boost to recreational fishing and tourism following this unprecedented oil spill event."

The fishery management council asked NOAA’s Fisheries Service to reopen the recreational red snapper season for the Friday through Sunday schedule after listening to extensive public testimony from fishermen. The Friday through Sunday schedule will allow recreational red snapper fishing to occur later in the year, increasing the opportunity for fishermen to participate.

Since July 22, NOAA has reopened more than 52,000 square miles of Gulf federal waters previously closed due to the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill. Among the next reopening priorities are federal waters located off eastern Louisiana, just west of the Mississippi River delta, which encompass popular recreational red snapper fishing grounds.

For further information: http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2010/20100921_gulfsnapper.html

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