Mississippi Anglers Can Fish Red Snapper All Summer

The Mississippi Department of Marine Resources announced that Mississippi’s Recreational Red Snapper Season will open Friday, May 25th and could potentially last 102 days until Labor Day if the catch does not exceed Mississippi’s pre-determined quota of 137,949 pounds. This is great news for Mississippi’s anglers as it will also allow for some overlap with Amberjack season during the last week of May and the month of August.

After a Federal season of only 3 short days in 2017, the Secretary of Commerce authorized a summer long season that allowed recreational anglers to fish for much of the summer last year. The increased effort across the Gulf resulted in a harvest that exceeded the recreational quota and set up a scenario wherein recreational anglers could be forced to pay back that overharvest through a reduction in the 2018 quota. The potential for a payback and no recreational season in 2018 opened the door for each of the Gulf States to apply to NOAA for and Exempted Fishing Permit (“EFP”). The EFP allows for the harvest of certain requested species that otherwise would not be allowed under federal regulations. These permits will allow each state to participate in a two-year pilot program for recreational Red Snapper harvest that is modeled on that states particular quota, management mechanism, and season structure and will allow them to gather data for state management.

The state-managed Red Snapper season only applies to recreational anglers fishing in state or federal waters out 200 nautical miles and state charter operators who operate solely in state waters out to 9 nautical miles. Federal charter for-hire operators will remain under the federal system so they will have the same 51 day season throughout the Gulf.

Each state is allowed to create its own program and season for recreational harvest under the EFP to harvest the specific quota allocated to that state. The season dates and requirements for reporting catch vary in each state so anglers are advised to review the requirements in the state from where they are fishing.  Mississippi’s season will start on May 25th, the Friday before Memorial Day and will be open every day through Monday, September 3rd with a couple of caveats. The Department of Marine Resources has made it very clear that they intend to monitor the quota closely through the use of Mississippi’s Tails n’ Scales App. If the reported catch by July 4, 2018 provides evidence that fishing pressure could lead to exceeding the quota, the season will shut down from July 9-22 to ensure that Mississippi’s harvest remains under the quota. There is also a possibility that the season could still be shut down again prior to September 3rd if Mississippi reaches its quota or if the quota for the entire Gulf has been met.

The program will provide flexibility to state managers for each state’s recreational fishery and will be an excellent opportunity to gather data through a trial run of state management. Mississippi’s Tails N’ Scales App is a mandatory reporting program that the Department will use to regulate fishing and gather data. Anglers must create a profile and start a trip before going fishing for Red Snapper. The captain of the vessel is responsible for each trip and must have a trip number when they are out on the water. The captain must report their catch (even no catch) within 24 hours and close out one trip before creating a new one. Anglers caught without an authorization number will be fined, and their fish confiscated.

Tails n’ Scales is available through a smartphone app on iTunes and Google Play, a website (tailsnscales.org) and a call center. Fishermen also can call 1-844-MSSNAPP (677-6277) to speak to a representative if they don’t have access to a smartphone or computer. For other questions regarding the Tails N’ Scales system or to report any issues, fishermen should call the DMR at 228-697-5762.