The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ (ADCNR) Marine Resources Division (MRD) announces that Alabama state waters and federal waters will open to private and state-licensed charter vessel anglers for red snapper harvest on Friday, May 26, 2023. The season will consist of four-day weekends, Friday through Monday, beginning Friday, May 26, and continue until the private angler quota is projected to be met.
The season dates listed above only apply to anglers fishing from shore, private recreational vessels and state-licensed Alabama commercial party boats that do not hold federal for-hire fishing permits. The season for anglers fishing from federally-permitted for-hire vessels will be announced by NOAA Fisheries at a future date.
Alabama will continue to use Snapper Check to monitor shore, private vessel and state charter angler landings during the season and will provide weekly updates at outdooralabama.com.
The Alabama private angler quota for 2023 was set by NOAA Fisheries at 558,200 pounds as a result of changes by NOAA Fisheries concerning the difference between state and federal harvest landing systems www.fisheries.noaa.gov/bulletin/final-rule-implement-two-framework-actions-gulf-mexico-red-snapper.
There is an anticipated increase to 591,185 pounds during the season as a result of an increase of the Annual Catch Limit (ACL) for Gulf Red Snapper that is in the rulemaking process at NOAA Fisheries www.fisheries.noaa.gov/bulletin/request-comments-proposed-rule-increase-red-snapper-catch-limits-gulf-mexico. MRD will announce a season closure date when the 2023 quota is anticipated to be met.
“Even with the changes in the Alabama quota, we anticipate having a great red snapper season in 2023. The 2022 season lasted until the end of the year with landings similar to the quota we received this year”, said DCNR Commissioner Chris Blankenship. “We are still pursuing other options to increase the quota. Anglers should have ample opportunities to enjoy our great red snapper resources off the Alabama coast.”
Anglers are reminded of the following:
- Weekends open to red snapper harvest are defined as 12:01 a.m. Friday through 11:59 p.m. Monday.
- The daily bag limit will be two red snapper per person, per day with a minimum size limit of 16 inches total length.
- Anglers 16 years of age and older must have an Alabama saltwater fishing license (resident or non-resident, annual or trip), and any Alabama resident 65 or older or a lifetime saltwater license holder must have a current saltwater angler registration. The saltwater angler registration is free and available at outdooralabama.com/saltwater-fishing/saltwater-angler-registration.
- All anglers 16 years of age and older who possess Gulf reef fish, including red snapper, must have an Alabama Gulf Reef Fish Endorsement which is available at outdooralabama.com/saltwater-fishing/saltwater-reef-fish-endorsement.
- Anglers under the age of 16 are not required to be licensed, possess an Alabama Gulf Reef Fish Endorsement or have saltwater angler registration, but their catch must be included in a landing report.
- The owner or operator of each vessel landing red snapper in Alabama is required by law to complete one landing report per vessel trip of their harvested red snapper through Snapper Check prior to removing the fish from the boat or the boat with the fish being removed from the water. All landed red snapper are required to be reported prior to landing regardless of the jurisdiction in which the fish were caught. Greater amberjack and gray triggerfish are also required to be reported when the season is open and must be reported in Snapper Check.
- Red snapper caught from non-powered vessels, piers and the shoreline are required to be reported through Snapper Check and require a Conservation ID number, game.dcnr.alabama.gov/CID.
- A landing report may be submitted through Snapper Check in the Outdoor AL app, which is available from Apple and Android stores or online at outdooralabama.com.
- Participation in a MRD creel survey or being inspected by enforcement officers is not considered reporting. Anglers must still report through Snapper Check even if encountered by MRD staff.
- Operators of vessels with an Alabama Commercial Party Boat License without federal for-hire permits must abide by the state season, possess an Alabama Gulf Reef Fish Endorsement for charter vessels and may only fish inside the 9-mile state waters line. An Alabama Snapper Check landing report must be completed when landing red snapper in Alabama.
- Possession of red snapper in state waters while the Alabama season is closed is prohibited. Anglers fishing under another state’s red snapper season, must abide by that state’s rules and land fish in that state. Individuals on vessels with recreationally caught red snapper may not transit Alabama state waters while the Alabama season is closed.
- Operators of federally permitted for-hire boats must possess an Alabama Gulf Reef Fish Endorsement but are not required to report through Snapper Check.
- All vessels fishing for reef fish in federal waters are required to have a venting tool or descending device rigged and ready to use. For more information, visit gulfcouncil.org/press/2022/noaa-fisheries-reminds-reef-fish-fishermen-of-descend-act-requirements-and-announces-a-final-rule-to-clarify-descending-device-and-venting-tool-definitions-for-reef-fish-fishing/
Anglers on federally permitted charter vessels may fish in state waters only during the days the state season is open. They may transit with red snapper during the days state waters are closed. Once the federal season is closed, they may not fish in state or federal waters. Owners/operators of federally permitted charter vessels are required to possess an Alabama Gulf Reef Fish Endorsement.
ADCNR promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through four divisions: Marine Resources, State Lands, State Parks, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. To learn more about ADCNR, visit outdooralabama.com.