Seasons? We don’t need no steenking seasons
Thanks to a National Marine Fisheries Service pilot program, Gulf Coast have an opportunity to catch and keep red snapper outside of the regular recreational season. According to collaborative manager Capt. Randy Boggs, “this program was designed by headboat captains who wanted to find a better way to regulate recreational for-hire fishing — one that would ensure strict adherence to catch limits, but without being constrained by short fishing seasons.” The Gulf Headboat Collaborative is a group of 17 headboat captains from Brownsville, Texas to Tampa, Fla., who are testing a new allocation-based management program that will allow them the freedom and flexibility to fish for red snapper and gag grouper when it is best for their businesses and customers. Granted an experimental fishing permit by the NMFS, this pilot program has two years to be successful. Through strict monitoring and reporting requirements, the EFP will allow the headboats in the collaborative to catch the same number of fish they would normally catch during the short fishing seasons but to take anglers fishing any time during the calendar year. Participating headboats will test new electronic data collection methods and collaborate with academic researchers to help answer important management questions about this new approach to managing recreational for-hire fishing.
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