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Red snapper anglers asked to participate in FWC's research during mini season

Researchers will be at Mayport, Matanzas, and Vilano inlets

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Researchers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Fish and Wildlife Research Institute are asking for help from anglers, spearfishers, and charter captains to capture information about the Atlantic red snapper fishery.

NOAA Fisheries announced the recreational season will be Aug. 10-12 and Aug. 17-19 in Atlantic federal waters (beyond 3 nautical miles from shore). Anglers and spearfishers are limited to one fish per person, per day, with no minimum size limit.

Each day of the season provides an opportunity for researchers in Florida to collect biological data from harvested red snapper, which can be used to monitor the health of the fishery. FWC biologists will be greeting recreational anglers at boat ramps and marinas along Florida’s east coast to conduct short interviews about their fishing trips. Biologists will also ask for permission to collect biological information from harvested fish.

Charter vessel operators also work cooperatively with FWC researchers during the Atlantic red snapper season by providing details about their fishing trips and allowing biologists to collect samples from harvested fish at the dock.

This season openings are an opportunity for FWC to collect important data from harvested fish that is needed for future population assessments. FWC biologists will survey anglers and take biological samples during the 2018 recreational red snapper fishing season.  Participation in these surveys is voluntary, though anglers are encouraged to take part in the surveys if approached by an FWC biologist.

During the 2018 Atlantic red snapper season, FWC will collect data from recreational anglers returning from fishing trips near 9 inlets on the east coast of Florida:

  • Cumberland Sound (Fernandina Beach)
  • St. Johns River (Mayport/Jacksonville)
  • Vilano Inlet (St. Augustine)
  • Matanzas Inlet
  • Ponce Inlet (Daytona/New Smyrna)
  • Port Canaveral
  • Sebastian Inlet
  • Fort Pierce Inlet
  • St. Lucie Inlet

The survey responses and biological samples submitted by anglers will provide valuable data about the red snapper fishery. The FWC will provide information collected to the Southeast Data, Assessment and Review (SEDAR) for the next red snapper stock assessment.

In 2017, the Atlantic red snapper season was open two weekends in November. FWC shared data collected during the season with federal fishery managers to help them estimate whether the federal quota was caught during the season, which coincided with inclement weather and rough seas in many areas.  After reviewing this and other available recreational fisheries data, NOAA Fisheries estimated that an extended season was warranted and reopened harvest for an additional weekend in December.

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During surveys conducted in Florida last year, FWRI researchers sampled more than 700 red snapper that were caught recreationally to collect information on the size, weight, age and sex composition.

This year, FWRI researchers will again be asking anglers and charter vessel operators to assist with data collection efforts. This work would not be possible without the collaborative efforts of scientists, anglers, spearfishers, and charter captains working together to collect high-quality data to manage Florida’s fisheries.

Data Collection Methods

Private Boat Anglers

Biologists monitor vessel activity through each inlet and conduct surveys with anglers as they return from fishing. Biologists also ask for permission to weigh and measure harvested fish, and ask to collect a sample from red snapper that will be used to determine their ages. These surveys are used to determine how many boats participate in the red snapper season, the numbers of red snapper harvested, and important biological information that will be used in future population assessments.

Charter Boats

Charter boat operators with a federal permit to harvest snapper in the South Atlantic are asked to keep a log of their trips and report their red snapper catch to FWC. Biologists contact vessel operators by phone to collect the information, unless captains choose to mail the log. Biologists also meet some charter vessels as they return from trips to collect biological information from harvested fish.

Headboats

Headboats are already required to report all fishing activity to National Marine Fisheries Service and are not surveyed by FWC during the red snapper season. Anglers returning from a headboat fishing trip may also be asked for permission by a state or federal biologist to collect samples from harvested fish.

We appreciate all the anglers and captains who take time to participate in surveys and allow biologists to sample their catch. The red snapper sampling effort on the east coast of Florida is a great example of scientists and fishermen working together to collect high-quality data needed to manage Florida’s fisheries.

For more information about Atlantic red snapper sampling efforts, and the 2017 results, click here first, then click on “Saltwater” and select “Recreational Fisheries.” For information on snapper rules and regulations, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing, and click on “Saltwater Fishing,” “Recreational Regulations” and select “Snappers.” If anglers catch a tagged red snapper, FWC researchers ask that they report it to the Angler Tag Return Hotline: 800-367-4461.


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