Red snapper season has been extended for six days because of rough seas that have prevented anglers from reaching the offshore fishing grounds, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced today (June 29). The season is now set to close at 12:01 a.m. on July 17, NOAA said.

Landings and effort data are not available in-season to estimate if the recreational red snapper quota will be met on July 10, but NOAA officials recognized that the north-central Gulf of Mexico has experienced extended severe weather -- including Tropical Storm Debby -- during the first 26 days of the 2012 recreational red snapper fishing season.

A substantial portion of recreational red snapper harvest in the Gulf of Mexico comes from the north-central Gulf of Mexico, so NOAA Fisheries Service expects fishing effort and landings have been less than initially projected, the agency said.

Wind speed and wave height data from four buoys stationed throughout the Gulf of Mexico were used as proxies for determining days when fishing did not occur or when effort was reduced. Wave height was the most consistent difference between 2011 and 2012.

Days with wave heights greater than 4 feet was used to determine the number of fishing days lost.

Weather was not as much of a factor in the western Gulf of Mexico, and this was considered in the calculations, as well.

Assuming weather in the eastern Gulf of Mexico will improve and fishing effort returns to expected rates, NOAA Fisheries Service projects the recreational fishing season for the entire Gulf of Mexico can be extended an additional six days.