Federal fisheries managers voted 7 to 6 today to suspend all red snapper fishing in the south Atlantic from Florida to North Carolina – a significant move that would help the overfished snapper but could mean changes for tourist fishing trips and commercial fisheries.
The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council approved the measure on the heels of new data showing red snapper are in peril from nearly 50 years of overfishing. The amount of red snapper has declined 97.6 percent since 1945.
The six-month moratorium, which is pending final approval by the U.S. Department of Commerce, could go into effect in June. There is an option for an additional six-month renewal. The ban is intended to protect red snapper in the short term while fishery managers develop science-based, long-term solutions to end overfishing and restore a healthy population.
The long-term plan, expected to be finalized this year, could include an even longer moratorium and may encompass more fish, such as grouper. Red snapper are often caught by accident during gag grouper fishing.