Local fishermen speak out on snapper limit

If you love red snapper, you may be very interested in two important meetings in our area Monday and Tuesday, March 10 and 11. They may help determine changes on how many snapper can be caught by commercial fishermen, and by recreational fishermen.

ALLOCATION CHANGES?

Right now, officials allocate 51 percent of Gulf of Mexico red snapper to commercial fishermen, and 49 percent to recreational fishermen. However, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council is looking into possibly allocating more to the recreational side.

The council is holding its first public meeting on the issue Monday night.

WHAT SHOULD BE DONE FIRST?

Ben Fairey, a charter boat captain in Orange Beach, believes the first step that needs to be taken is getting a workable fisheries management plan.

He said, “Right now, I feel that the meeting is probably premature.”

In other words, count the fish first.

Fairey said, “If we had an independent stock assessment, we would really identify how many fish we have, and then we need to also know exactly how many fish we catch.”

HOW PLENTIFUL?

Dick Cappar has been a charter boat captain and recreational fisherman.

He said, “There’s no reason to believe that there are not any fish out there.”

Cappar said since officials have been working to rebuild the red snapper stock, the numbers and size of the fish are ballooning.

He said, “It used to be a sixteen and a half inch fish was two and a half pounds. Now, instead of a sixteen and a half ‘inch’ fish, we’re faced with sixteen and a half ‘pound’ fish.”

So, what will the future hold? The fisheries management council is trying to prepare for the answer.

LOCATIONS

Monday’s public hearing is scheduled at the the Fairfield Inn and Suites on Loop Road beginning at 6 p.m.

The meeting Tuesday is in Mobile at the Renaissance Riverview Plaza on south Water Street, also beginning at 6 p.m.

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