Snapper Check: Feds ‘Significantly Overestimating’ Harvest of Red Snapper

According to a report from the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the federal government is “significantly overestimating” the harvest of red snapper by fishermen in Alabama.

In 2016, there was an obvious difference in opinion between Alabama and the federal government when it came to the harvest projections. Alabama Wildlife Officials say that 1.5 million pounds of red snapper were landed between charter boats and recreational fishermen. On the other hand, the federal government said 2.7 million pounds of snapper were landed in Alabama in 2016.

The federal government’s harvest numbers come from the NOAA Fisheries’ survey program and Alabama officials say their numbers have been wrong for the last the three years.

Compared to the numbers in the Alabama Snapper Check program, the federal survey overestimated the harvest numbers by 81-percent in 2014, 68-percent in 2015 and 79-percent in 2016.

“We are much more confident in our 1.5-million-pound estimate, when you look at the statistics, than their 2.7-million-pounds. We feel our estimate is more accurate,” said Chris Blankenship, the director of the Alabama Marine Resource Division, in a press release.

For the first time last year, Alabama state waters were extended to nine miles off the coast and Alabama Senator Richard Shelby says the same extension in his budget proposal for 2017.

Blankenship says they hope the federal government will use the data collected in the Alabama Snapper Check when making their determinations for the 2017 red snapper season. Before this year, the study was not certified but after three years in existence, the study is now certified and NOAA Fisheries may consider it.

The Feds have not yet announced the date for the 2017 season, but in 2016, the season only lasted nine days in July.

Wildlife officials also say the number of recreational fishermen reporting their catch has been “disappointing”. They say only 25-percent reported in 2016 compared to 70-percent of charter fleet catches.

 

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