Texas anglers urged to take part in red snapper reporting system

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The 2013 red snapper season in federal waters off the Texas coast will run 17 days, beginning June 1.
Red snapper may be caught in Texas state waters all year, but 95 percent of the state's annual harvest is done in federal waters.

The fight over red snapper fishing in the Gulf of Mexico has reached a fever pitch, with the federal agency that oversees the snapper quota this month deciding on only a nine-day recreational season, beginning June 1.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Coastal Fisheries Division staff are now asking recreational anglers for assistance to help manage snapper stocks.

Texas anglers, with the exception of party boat anglers, are asked to report their red snapper landings in June via a short online survey. Those who land red snapper are asked to submit basic information about the trip’s total snapper catch, the date and number of fish landed.

Party boats captains are required to report their landings.

This data will be used in conjunction with harvest monitoring programs, and will be useful in designing future harvest monitoring programs, according to a news release. It also will serve as an indicator of the health of the red snapper fishery off Texas shores.

Texas and other Gulf states, cooperatively with National Marine Fisheries Service, manage red snapper in federal waters. One of the key pieces of information in the management of the snapper fishery is the annual  recreational harvest.

The bag limit in federal waters remains two fish that are at least 16 inches long, while the daily framework in Texas state waters — where fishing is allowed year-round — is four fish which must be at least 15 inches. However, more than 95 percent of the red snapper landed in Texas come from federal waters, according to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department figures. Most of that catch – about 80 percent – comes from head boats which take out numerous paying clients offshore.

In Texas federal waters begin 9 nautical miles from the coast and extend 200 nautical miles.

TPWD performs routine dockside creel surveys to monitor the landings and fishing effort for a variety of species along the coast, but this pilot program will use angler-reported data to complement the routine surveys allowing for better estimation of  the recreational red snapper landings in the state, according to the release.

Information: 361-825-3356; 512-389-8011.

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