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44-day red snapper season announced for state waters

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation has announced a 44-day red snapper season this year starting June 1.

That applies to state waters only, which extend nine nautical miles from shore.

The feds have yet to announce the season in the waters beyond that, and boat captains are hoping it's a long one.

The Destin fishing community relies on red snapper season. Not just for their livelihood, but for tourism as well. And boat captains say, a 44-day season is simply not enough.

A boat captain for 35 years, George Eller says there's more red snapper in the Gulf than ever at any other time.

This 44-day season doesn't help at all, he says it's good for recreational anglers, but not for fishermen with federal permits.

"We, the pro fishermen in the gulf, we're not gonna fish ourselves out of existence. That's stupid," Eller said.

Eller is frustrated. Red snapper is by far the most popular catch in Destin. It's the fish tourists want.

"The very people who we want to entice to come here, we're telling them no. That's what it sounds like anyhow," Eller said.

There's still a sense of uncertainty. The red snapper season in federal waters hasn't been decided yet, but there's talk of having a 21-day season, a week shorter than last year.

Boat Captain Scott Robinson thinks there's enough red snapper to go around. He wants to see a 90-day season and two catch per person limit.

"Let's do that for a year and see what happens. Mainly it's hurting tourism. There's fish out there to catch," Robinson said.

The red snapper season in state waters begins June 1 and will last until July 14.