It looks like red snapper anglers will have until 12:01 a.m. on June 29 to legally harvest the fish in federal waters.
NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service yesterday announced a 28-day recreational red snapper fishing season in Gulf of Mexico federal waters. NMFS indicated it will publish a temporary rule <https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2013/06/10/2013-13680/reef-fish-fishery-gulf-of-mexico-recreational-sector-for-red-snapper-closure-fisheries-of-the> in the federal register on June 10 to establish a Gulf-wide season closure at 12:01 a.m., June 29. This sets the end date for the red snapper season that started June 1.
The NMFS rule states “On May 31, 2013 the U.S. District Court for the southern district of Texas, Brownsville Division, set aside a March 25, 2013 emergency rule that gave the NMFS Regional Administrator the authority to close the recreational sector for red snapper in the [federal] EEZ off individual Gulf states. Therefore, NMFS adjusts the closure of the recreational sector for red snapper by closing the entire Gulf EEZ on June 29, 2013, instead of closing the EEZ on different days off individual Gulf states.”
The court decision described in the NMFS season closure rule refers to a joint lawsuit filed by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. The two agencies filed the suit to challenge a NMFS emergency rule that would have meant a shorter snapper season in federal waters off certain states.
The recreational red snapper bag limit in federal waters is two fish, at least 16 inches in length. The bag limit in Texas waters is four fish, at least 15 inches long, with a year-round, 365-day season in state waters. For Texas, federal waters begin nine nautical miles from the state’s coast and extend 200 nautical miles.