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Memorial Day weekend kicks off red snapper season in Alabama’s coastal waters

Memorial Day weekend not only marks the unofficial beginning of summer but has anglers who love Alabama’s coastal waters excited for the start of red snapper season.

Alabama state waters and federal waters will open to private and state-licensed charter vessel anglers for red snapper harvest this Friday, May 27, according to the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ (ADCNR) Marine Resources Division.

The season consists of four-day weekends – Friday through Monday – beginning May 27 and will continue until the private angler quota is projected to be met.

Memorial Day weekend brings the return of snapper season in Alabama. (David Rainer / Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources)

The season applies only to anglers fishing from shore, private recreational vessels and state-licensed Alabama commercial party boats that do not hold federal for-hire fishing permits. To learn more about the season for anglers fishing from federally permitted, for-hire vessels, which begins June 1, as well as the private angler quota, click here to visit the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries red snapper fishing season information page; additional information can be found here.

Alabama will continue to use Snapper Check to monitor shore, private vessel and state charter angler landings during the season and will provide weekly updates at the ADCNR website, outdooralabama.com.

Anglers fishing for red snapper should know the following:

  • Weekends open to red snapper harvest are defined as 12:01 a.m. Friday through 11:59 p.m. Monday.
  • The daily bag limit will be two red snapper per person, per day with a minimum size limit of 16 inches total length.
  • Anglers 16 years of age and older must have an Alabama saltwater fishing license (resident or nonresident, annual or trip), and any Alabama resident 65 or older or a lifetime saltwater license holder must have a current saltwater angler registration. The saltwater angler registration is free and available at outdooralabama.com/saltwater-fishing/saltwater-angler-registration.
  • All anglers 16 years of age and older who possess Gulf reef fish, including red snapper, must have an Alabama Gulf Reef Fish Endorsement, which is available at outdooralabama.com/saltwater-fishing/saltwater-reef-fish-endorsement.
  • Anglers under the age of 16 are not required to be licensed, possess an Alabama Gulf Reef Fish Endorsement or have saltwater angler registration, but their catch must be included in a landing report.
  • The owner or operator of each vessel landing red snapper in Alabama is required by law to complete one landing report per vessel trip of their harvested red snapper through Snapper Check prior to removing the fish from the boat or the boat with the fish being removed from the water. All landed red snapper are required to be reported prior to landing regardless of the jurisdiction in which the fish were caught. Greater amberjack and gray triggerfish are also required to be reported when the season is open and must be reported in Snapper Check.
  • Red snapper caught from nonpowered vessels, piers and the shoreline are required to be reported through Snapper Check and require a Conservation ID number, game.dcnr.alabama.gov/CID.
  • A landing report may be submitted through Snapper Check in the Outdoor AL app, which is available from Apple and Android stores or online at outdooralabama.com. 
    The return of snapper season is Friday, May 27 in Alabama. (David Rainer / Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources)
  • Participation in a Marine Resources Division creel survey or being inspected by enforcement officers is not considered reporting. Anglers must still report through Snapper Check even if encountered by Marine Resources Division staff.
  • Operators of vessels with an Alabama Commercial Party Boat License without federal for-hire permits must abide by the state season, possess an Alabama Gulf Reef Fish Endorsement for charter vessels and may only fish inside the 9-mile state waters line. An Alabama Snapper Check landing report must be completed when landing red snapper in Alabama.
  • Possession of red snapper in state waters while the Alabama season is closed is prohibited. Anglers fishing under another state’s red snapper season must abide by that state’s rules and land fish in that state. Individuals on vessels with recreationally caught red snapper may not transit Alabama state waters while the Alabama season is closed.
  • Operators of federally permitted for-hire boats must possess an Alabama Gulf Reef Fish Endorsement but are not required to report through Snapper Check; however, they must use NOAA Fisheries’ Southeast For-Hire Integrated Electronic Reporting Program.

ADCNR officials are reminding anglers that for the 2022 season, all vessels fishing for reef fish in federal waters are required to have a venting tool or descending device rigged and ready to use. For more information, click here.

Anglers on federally permitted charter vessels may fish in state waters only during the days the state season is open. They may transit with red snapper during the days state waters are closed. Once the federal season is closed, they may not fish in state or federal waters. Owners/operators of federally permitted charter vessels are required to possess an Alabama Gulf Reef Fish Endorsement.

ADCNR and Alabama Power are partners, along with the Alabama Wildlife Federation (AWF) and Mobile-based Cooper/T. Smith, in supporting the artificial reef system off Alabama’s Gulf Coast. Retired boilers from the company’s generating plants have been placed in the Gulf to improve fish habitat. AWF recently recognized Alabama Power for its contributions to the artificial reef program. Learn more about the project here.

Tim Gothard, executive director of the Alabama Wildlife Federation, left, presents an award to Jason Carlee, center, and Wes Anderson of Alabama Power Environmental Affairs in recognition of the company’s contributions to the artificial reef program. (Billy Brown / Alabama NewsCenter)

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

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