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Fishermen – Use Best Practices and Assist with Data Collection during Red Snapper Opening

The South Atlantic recreational red snapper mini-season opens this Friday July 12th for two consecutive weekends. This is a great opportunity both for recreational fishermen to bring home a red snapper for dinner (with a bag limit of 1 fish per person per day and no minimum size limit) and for researchers to collect much needed biological data.

Plan Ahead How to Handle Fish You Catch

If you plan on going out to try to catch a red snapper make sure you plan ahead. You should expect to release fish. We want as many fish to survive releasing as possible. Dehookers are required when fishing for reef fish species, including red snapper. Be sure to have a descending device rigged and ready to use or a venting tool at hand. Fish caught in deeper water (greater than 30 feet) may experience barotrauma caused by the expansion of gases in the swim bladder as they are brought to the surface. This makes them less likely to be able to swim back down to depth on their own. In order to help your released fish survive, make sure you can recognize the signs of barotrauma and know how to use a descending device or venting tool before heading out on the water.

Big fish pictures are great! But make sure you know how to properly handle a fish if taking a photo of your catch. Minimize handling time and return the fish to the water as quickly as possible. When handling a fish, use wet hands (never use a towel) to reduce removal of the fish’s protective slime coating. It is best to take pictures of fish while they are still in the water. If you must take the fish out of the water, never lift a fish by its jaw without also supporting its weight horizontally. Don’t touch the gills and never hold a fish by its gill cover.

Report Your Catch and Help Biologists Collect Data

You can report your catch at MyFishCount. This is a recreational reporting mobile app and web-portal that allows anglers to voluntarily report what they catch. The mobile app was created by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council in partnership with the Angler Action Foundation and Snook and Gamefish Foundation. Fishermen across the region have been using this app for several years including during the 2017 and 2018 South Atlantic red snapper mini-seasons.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission biologists will be surveying anglers and taking biological samples at boat ramps and marinas. Your participation is voluntary, but it could greatly help with collecting important data on the species. Biological samples such as otoliths (ear bones), used to age fish, provide valuable data for future stock assessments and management decisions. In our area, biologists will be located at both Port Canaveral and Sebastian Inlet.

Have fun and enjoy your day on the water!

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