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Study: Gulf contains around three times as many red snapper as previously estimated

The final results of a high-profile study revealed on Wednesday that the U.S. portion of the Gulf of Mexico contains more than 110 million red snapper, roughly three times as many as previously estimated.

Referred to as The Great Red Snapper Count, the years-long study was funded to the tune of $10 million by the federal government and conducted by scientists at the Harte Research Institute in Texas.

“This is fantastic news,” said U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) on Wednesday in reaction to the news. “In 2016, I worked to have Congress fund this $10 million, state-of-the-art study & I’m very pleased with its results.”

“[T]his new absolute abundance estimate may potentially change the way the Gulf of Mexico fishery is managed by federal and state officials,” Harte researchers noted in a writeup of the results.

The Harte institute claims they were able to examine “large expanses not previously surveyed by NOAA.” Over 80 Harte scientists worked on the project.

NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has provided the previous government estimates on red snapper populations.

The agency’s most recent estimate of the snapper population had been 36 million, whereas the more advanced Harte research indicates it is 110 million.

Harte researchers provided breakdowns of the locations of Snapper in two graphics.

(Harte Institute)
(Harte Institute)

“This is great news. This study revealed there are 110 million red snapper, which is about 3 times more than prior estimates. Thank you [Senator Shelby] for your leadership on this!” tweeted U.S. Rep. Jerry Carl (R-Mobile), whose district encompasses all of Alabama’s coastline.

The Great Red Snapper Count was also a priority for Carl’s predecessor, former U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope).

Regulating the red snapper season for anglers in Alabama is the Gulf Council. The council has not yet published a news release on how the findings will impact its decisions.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: [email protected] or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

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