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Gulf red snapper workshops set for Florida

Gulf of Mexico fishermen who want to make their opinions heard about red snapper recreational fishing seasons will get their chance in the coming weeks.

After the 9-day recreational snapper season this year — the shortest federal season yet — the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is scheduling a series of Gulf of Mexico red snapper workshops for recreational stakeholders, beginning next Monday, to discuss state and federal management of the recreational red snapper.

The workshops also will explore potential future approaches to managing the fishery in an effort to ensure optimal access for Florida’s resident and visiting anglers.

Anglers who would like to share their ideas and help improve management are encouraged to attend.

All meetings will be from 6-8:30 p.m. local time and are set for:

• July 28: Pensacola: Pensacola City Hall (second-floor Hagler Mason room), 222 W. Main St.

• July 29: Destin: Destin Community Center, 101 Stahlman Ave.

• July 30: Panama City: Florida State University-Panama City, lecture hall of Holley Center, 4750 Collegiate Drive

• July 31: Carrabelle: Carrabelle City Hall cafeteria, 1001 Gray Ave.

• Aug. 11: St. Petersburg: Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, third–floor conference room, 100 Eighth Ave. SE.

Red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico off Florida are managed by the FWC in state waters (from shore to 9 nautical miles) and by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council in federal waters (beyond 9 nautical miles).

The FWC is seeking input from recreational anglers about how to better manage recreational harvest of the species at the state and federal levels while continuing to rebuild the fishery.

Several management options that are being considered for federal waters by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council will be discussed, including sector separation, which entails dividing the federal recreational red snapper quota into separate private-angler and for-hire quotas; an individual fishing quota program for federally permitted charter and head boats, similar to the existing program for commercial vessels, which allots a specific portion of fish to individual vessels; and regional management, in which the recreational fishery in federal waters could be managed on a state-by-state basis.

The workshops offer stakeholders an opportunity to share their expectations for the red snapper fishery and their ideas about potential management options for state and federal waters.