The Crimson White

Red snapper season begins in coastal waters

John Palmer

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Fishing for red snapper is, to some, a summer tradition in Alabama. Fishing vessels line up in the early morning, eagerly waiting to catch their limit of fish.

“It would take a hurricane to keep these folks from going out,” said fisherman Jimmy Walker.

Red snapper inhabit offshore reefs throughout the Gulf of Mexico. In Alabama, they can often be found around oil rigs in the Mobile Bay and artificial reefs in surrounding waters.

This year the federal season was set at nine days (May 27-June 8,) with the state season being 66 days, (May 27 – July 31.) The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) extended the federal season by two days after Tropical Storm Colin last week. NOAA says this was due to the poor fishing conditions the storm caused.

Red snapper has been overfished in the past, prompting authorities to carefully regulate harvest of the species, according to Capt. Joe Nash of Cool Change Charters in Orange Beach. He says the snapper come to Alabama in cycles. Every so many years they come in and we don’t know why and then they will leave.

Nash said Red snapper fishing brings a boost to the coastal Alabama economy. He said that his charter fishing business makes around 45 percent of their yearly income during red snapper season.

Nash supports the federal management of the fish.

“Alabama just wants to give them all away to the people and put us out of business,” Nash said.

He said the recreational fisherman have been coming to council meetings over the last years trying to lobby for more days.

Some fishermen feel the trouble of harvesting the fish is not worth it.

“[The regulations] change up so much I can barely keep up with them,” said Alfred Sherman, retail manager at Aquila Seafood in Gulf Shores.

The state tries something different every year, he says.

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Red snapper season begins in coastal waters