New Pilot Reporting Program Aims to Ensure Texas Anglers Get Share of Red Snapper
AUSTIN– Red snapper are a favorite among anglers for its tenacious fight and, arguably, as the tastiest fish in the Gulf. But management of the species over the years has been challenging and controversial.
In light of those challenges, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Coastal Fisheries Division staff is asking recreational anglers for assistance to help manage red snapper.
Beginning June 1, Texas anglers (with the exception of party boat anglers) are asked to report their red snapper landings via a short online survey at www.tpwd.texas.gov/snapper. At the end of each day’s trip or soon afterwards, parties that land red snapper are asked to submit basic information about the trip’s total red snapper catch, the date it occurred, number of fish landed, etc. Only one person needs to report for the entire angling party.
Anglers fishing from party boats are exempt from reporting as the captain reports for then. Party boats are generally larger boats where people pay per person, as opposed to paying a single fee (for one or more persons) for a guided trip.
This data will be used in conjunction with current harvest monitoring programs, and will be useful in designing future harvest monitoring programs. It will also serve as an indicator of the health of the red snapper fishery off Texas shores.
“Anglers are strongly encouraged to report their landings,” said Robin Riechers, TPWD Coastal Fisheries Division Director. “Not only does it help manage the fishery, but it allows all red snapper anglers to get involved in the management of the species.”
Texas and the other four Gulf states, cooperatively with National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), manage red snapper in federal waters. One of the key pieces of information in the management of the red snapper fishery is the total recreational harvest, that is, how many red snapper are landed by recreational anglers in a given year.
Texas state waters (less than 9 nautical miles from shore) are open year-round for red snapper with a four fish bag limit and a minimum size limit of 15 inches. Regulations in federal waters (greater than 9 nautical miles from shore) may differ from state regulations. This year, the recreational season in federal waters will run June 1-9 with a two fish daily bag limit and 16-inch minimum length limit. For more information on federal fisheries regulations go to www.gulfcouncil.org or call toll-free 888-833-1844.
While TPWD currently performs routine dockside creel surveys to monitor the landings and fishing effort for a variety of species along the Texas coast, this pilot program will utilize angler reported data to compliment these routine surveys allowing for better estimation of the recreational red snapper landings in the state.
If you have further questions regarding red snapper management and/or the reporting program, contact the TPWD Coastal Fisheries office at 361-825-3356.
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