Several charter fishing boat workers are up in arms Wednesday night, April 9, as they wait to hear on a decision that could take a big hit on their summer paycheck.
With the possibility of an 11-day Red Snapper season looming, fishermen said they’re worried not just about their livelihoods, but also of the rest of the coastal Alabama economy.
The possibility of an 11 day season comes after a lawsuit.
Officials with the Gulf Fishery Council said commercial fishermen successfully sued recreational fishermen because of going over quotas for the last several years.
Fishery officials explain the unfortunate lawsuit was ironically caused by a healthy fish population in the Gulf. But now, the lawsuit could ruin this year’s snapper season for everyone.
“It’s really ridiculous,” said charter fishing boat captain Joe Nash, of Orange Beach, Ala., “With 365 days out of the year, we can only fish 11 days? I mean, I don’t see it.”
“Snapper Season is 40 percent of our income every year, with customers coming down knowing that we have the best Red Snapper in the world,” said deckhand Kelly Collins, “We spend months on these boats, preparing them, getting them ready to fish every year, and for this to happen it’s really detrimental to everybody. As a deckhand, captain, owner, it kills us all.”
Folks in the charting fishing business said the shorter season wouldn’t only affect their industry, it would also affect the rest of the local economy along the Alabama Gulf Coast.
“It’s going to kill the business for hotels, marinas, water sports, basically everybody down here is going to hurt,” said Trey Lewis, an employee at Outcast Charter Fishing in Orange Beach, “We had a bad winter because it was cold, and we didn’t have a lot of business, so it’s just going to turn into the summer. We just going to keep on getting more of less business down here.”
The Reef Fish Council has already approved the motion for an 11-day season, and Thursday, April 10, that recommendation will go before a full fishery council for a final decision on the season length.
Until that decision is made, fishermen are waiting on pins and needles, because it could mean the difference between a successful summer or going out of business.
“There’s a lot of people, that if this goes on for another year or two, they are going to go out of business,” said Nash, “That’s what’s going to happen because the expenditures are way too high.”
The current Red Snapper quota is actually the highest ever.
The NOAA Fisheries Service published a final rule implementing an 11 million whole pound weight total allowable catch for Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper.
Stay tuned to FOX10 News and FOX10TV.com as we keep you updated on what happens when a decision is made on the Red Snapper Season length.