Mississippi is rejoining the list of non-compliant states, when it comes to having a recreational red snapper season in its state waters, the Department of Marine Resources announced on Thursday.
The season will open at 12:01 a.m. on July 16 and end at 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 31.
MDMR executive director Jamie Miller said the limit will be two red snapper per day, with a minimum size of 16 inches — exactly the same as the 10-day federal season held in early June and the 44-day charter boat season that ends July 15.
Mississippi’s first non-compliant season was in 2014, when MDMR opened its waters for red snapper fishing for four three-day weekends in July. The longer 2015 season is more in line with what other Gulf states have.
“I believe a state season will have minimal impact on the resource and will benefit our local recreational anglers,” Miller said. “We want them to have every opportunity to fish for red snapper, and extending the state season through October will provide anglers greater flexibility to plan trips and will provide MDMR with additional landings data.”
He also recognizes that fishermen run a risk in fishing, since federal officials do not recognize what Mississippi claims as state waters.
The 2012 state legislature approved extending state waters to nine miles for fisheries management, and the law went into effect July 1, 2013. The federal government does not recognize this distance and believes its jurisdiction begins three miles south of the barrier islands.
Fishermen possessing red snapper farther than three miles south of the barrier islands could receive citations from federal law enforcement officers or federally deputized law enforcement. Fishing between three and nine miles in Mississippi waters is at the angler’s own risk.
Anglers also are required to participate in MDMR’s red snapper reporting program. Officials have implemented several methods for fishermen to report their harvest, including a smartphone App, a website and a call center.
“The purpose of this electronic reporting system is to provide fishery managers the best available data to ensure Mississippi anglers the most opportunities and greatest flexibility for red snapper harvest,” said Matt Hill, director of MDMR’s Finfish Bureau. “The mandatory reporting system will provide for accurate and timely data that will be used for better resource management.”
The federal season ran from June 1-10, and Hill said there was a high compliance rate among anglers for that season.
Anglers with smartphones can download “Tails N Scales” in the iTunes App store or on Google Play. They also can use the website, www.tailsnscales.org or the App to create a profile and plan a trip. However, anglers must close out one trip before creating a new one.
They also can call 1-844-MSSNAPP (677-6277) to speak to a representative to create their profile and trip.
For more information on reporting data, go to the Red Snapper page at dmr.ms.gov.