After intensive appeals from the state of Alabama over its hyper-brief red snapper season, the U.S. Department of Commerce relented last week, announcing an extension to the season. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced earlier that Alabama would only have a three-day red snapper season this year, understandably frustrating those who look forward to and rely on a longer season.
Under this new extension, the season for recreational fishermen has been reopened on weekends (Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays) up until Labor Day, adding a whopping 39 days of fishing for Alabama anglers.
Alabama Congressman Bradley Byrne was among those advocating for the longer season—calls that got the attention of President Trump’s Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross. In his press release, Congressman Byrne expressed his appreciation for Alabama officials who provided.
Many people helped make this extension possible, and they deserve to be acknowledged. I appreciate President Donald Trump and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross for paying attention to our concerns and working to address this issue. The staff at the Department of Commerce was easy to work with as we put this extension together. I also cannot say enough about the help from Chris Blankenship, the acting commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Chris has always been a joy to work with on Red Snapper issues, and he played a critical role in helping get the other Gulf states on board with this agreement. I also want to thank the local and state officials, as well as the grassroots supporters and fishermen, who helped bring attention to this issue. I firmly believe your efforts made a difference. Ultimately, it was a total team effort to make this emergency extension a reality. This is a real victory for all our recreational fishermen as well as our coastal communities.
Senator Richard Shelby agreed:
I am pleased the Department of Commerce is listening to states and local anglers to provide immediate relief to this problem. Adding 39 days to the recreational fishing season for red snapper is great news. Ultimately, a long-term solution is needed that benefits all Gulf fishermen. I will continue to work with Secretary Ross and my Gulf State colleagues to allow further access to this abundant resource.
It’s important to note that this extension is not permanent; it only applies to the 2017 season. As Congressman Byrne noted, “We must continue our efforts to find a permanent legislative solution that gives more authority over setting Red Snapper seasons to the five Gulf states,” adding that he’s currently pursuing such measures.