Recreational anglers regret short red Snapper Season

November 17, 2017 - Published in News Clippings

Article from Victoria Advocate, May 31, 2017

Recreational Anglers Regret Short Red Snapper Season

By Jessica Priest

 

Victoria Advocate

Recreational anglers of red snapper, act fast.

Thursday is the first day to catch red snapper in federal waters, and Saturday is the last day.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration determined the red snapper season for federal waters by looking at how much recreational anglers busted last year’s quota and how much they caught in state waters. In Texas’ waters, red snapper may be caught year-round.

NOAA wrote in its announcement that it must manage the fishery because the rate at which red snapper is caught is 2 1/2 times more than it was 10 years ago. The agency wrote it must build upon this success.

But some recreational anglers in the Crossroads think NOAA’s management of the fishery is a joke.

Bink Grimes, a recreational angler and Victoria Advocate columnist, said he thought the commercial sector’s allocation of red snapper was too large. It has 51 percent of the allowable catch while the recreational sector has 49 percent, according to NOAA.

“We’re getting a raw deal on this,” Grimes said. “How many people can get off work on a Thursday and Friday? Basically, most people have one day to fish.”

Michael Kubecka, who is a recreational angler and owns Reel Rush Charters, checks the wind speed and wave heights collected by a weather buoy before heading out.

“Tomorrow is going to be OK, but the other two days are going to be too rough to even fish,” Kubecka said Wednesday.

Kubecka can’t reconcile NOAA’s data with what he’s seen firsthand.

“I dive a lot of the rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. I probably have been to every rig within 75 miles of the Matagorda jetties. I’ve never seen so many red snapper,” he said.

Kubecka understood the need to manage red snapper because anglers release those that do not meet the ideal 15-pound weight. Some that are released later die. Still, Kubecka wanted state waters to be extended.

Right now, federal waters begin at 9 nautical miles off the Texas coast.

But U.S. Congressman Blake Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi, wants to do him and his other constituents one better. He wants to return the management of the fishery to the state.

Last month, Farenthold, chaired a hearing about red snapper for the Subcommittee on the Interior, Energy and the Environment.

At the hearing, Mark Ray, chairman of the Coastal Conservation Association’s Texas Chapter, testified that red snapper is a resource the public should have access to. Chris Brown, president of the Seafood Harvesters of America, meanwhile, testified management decisions should be based on need, not want; science, not politics.

NOAA started regulating red snapper in federal waters in the 1980s after anglers noticed their weight had decreased from an average of 10 pounds and they had moved to deeper water.

In 2016, the average weight of a red snapper caught in federal waters was 7.25 pounds.

Farenthold said the hearing confirmed his suspicion that red snapper are over fished in state waters and under fished in federal waters.

“I think there is legislation afoot to return more control to the state,” Farenthold said in an interview with the Victoria Advocate.

But for recreational anglers upset about the length of this season, they’re out of luck.