The 2012 recreational red snapper season in Gulf of Mexico state waters commences on June 1 and runs through July 10, a total of 40 days.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) set the 2012 season on May 2 at the Commission meeting in Crystal River.
The state season is the same as the recently announced federal recreational red snapper season. The Commission also voted to keep a 40-day, June 1 through July 10 season regardless of whether the federal season is further shortened. Florida state waters in the Gulf extend out nine nautical miles from shore; federal waters extend beyond that line.
Gulf red snapper stocks are rebuilding their numbers, but the stock needs higher numbers of older fish to be sustainable. Red snapper are estimated to live more than 50 years, but most fish in the current stock are only a few years old. Older fish are the key to rebuilding the population because older female red snapper produce more eggs than younger females.
Shortening the fishing season in Gulf state waters and going consistent with the federal season will help continue to rebuild red snapper populations so that more red snapper fishing opportunities will be possible in the future.
"I think consistency is important," said Commissioner Ron Bergeron. "The positive part is, looking at the recovery, we are going in the right direction in having long-term benefits for fishermen."
The Wildlife Foundation of Florida honored longtime FWC biologist Ron Taylor with the Louise Ireland Humphrey Achievement Award at the commission meeting.
Taylor has studied marine fisheries for the state for 35 years. He is the lead scientist for snook research in Florida and is noted worldwide as an authority on the sport fish.
Taylor's research has led to many discoveries about snook. Among them, one he considers his greatest professional achievement, is finding that all snook are born as males and some later become females. This information is important to the management of the fishery.
The Humphrey Award was established in 1999 as to honor FWC employees whose dedication and service have made outstanding contributions to conservation of Florida's fish and wildlife. It is named for the first female commissioner of the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission who served from 1984 to 1999, including two terms as Chairman.
More information about red snapper fishing is available online at www.MyFWC.com/Fishing.