charter fisherman's Association

Concerns Over Shortened Snapper Season

29 Feb 2012 8:32 AM | Anonymous

MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - Tons of fisherman and charter boat captain’s spoke their minds at a public forum to discuss possible changes to the 2012 red snapper season.

NOAA is considering cutting the season short. Last year it was 48 days, now its talking about making it 40.

Dr. Roy Crabtree with NOAA says last year too many fish were caught and now there us a need to cut back to control the population.

"Even though the quotas are being increased each year, the catch rates are going up every year and trips tend to go up a little bit, fish are getting bigger and the increases in the quota aren't keeping up with the increased catch rate,” said Crabtree.

Charter Boat Captain Scott Hickman says it’s not about the time; it’s about the fish.

One thing he suggests is giving each person a certain number of days they can use whenever they want.

In this case he wouldn't mind having fewer than 40 days.

"If we had the flexibility of going to and doing it when we wanted to and we were accountable and they knew we were reporting those fish, we would be able to use it and would benefit our business,” Hickman said.

The problem is accountability. Hickman said the way data is collected now wouldn't work.

Hickman and charter boat captain Mike Jennings are part of a Pilot program out of Texas.
It uses an iPad or iPhone application called "iSnapper."

Before even leaving the dock the captain enters in what they are fishing for, where they are fishing and how many anglers are on board. Then you fill in the catches.

"Hit submit trip and as soon as it receives a 3G signal it downloads all of that information to Texas A&M Corpus Christi and they have the information of what I caught real time before my boat even arrives at the dock,” Jennings said.

Jennings said an app like this would give the captains and officials real time data, about the entire catch as the season progresses.

NOAA officials said it is looking at ways to better calculate the Red Snapper population. It is hoping for a change by 2013.

"Many of the council members are very frustrated, we feel like our hands are tied, but because of the way the law is written, we're stuck with this system and patience I guess is the only thing we can hope for,” Crabtree said.

No final decision will be made until the spring.

Photojournalist: La-Keya Stinchcomb

Paige Malone

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