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Red Snapper season - next year

After the shortest red snapper season ever, recreational anglers might be getting a larger share of the catch next year. But it would come at the expense of commercial fishermen.

Laura Hussey "To understand a potential reallocation of the snapper quota, here's a definition of the word 'recreational.' All of these charter boats, for our purposes, are considered recreational. So would be you or I on a private boat going out on the weekend."

Right now, the recreational sector is allowed forty-nine percent of the total snapper quota in the Gulf each year. The commercial sector, those boats that sell to markets and restaurants, gets fifty-one percent. Charter Captain Scott Robson says with a nine-day federal season for recreational snapper this year, the system is beyond broken.

Scott Robson/Phoenix "It's a big joke now. I mean nine-day.... and they call it the 'snapper season', and we call it the 'snapper week.' I mean it's a week, you know?"

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council is considering a proposal to give recreational anglers more of the total catch. For the first nine million pounds, nothing would change. If regulators allow more fish to be caught, seventy-five percent of it would go to the recreational sector.

Capt. Scott "We're now for it, especially in light of what's happened this last year"

Organizations representing commercial fishermen say the proposal would reduce the amount of snapper available to consumers by half a million pounds next year. They say it would hurt commercial fishing businesses, restaurants, and the people who depend on them for jobs. And they say it would increase the amount of imported fish.

Working outside the fray on a dolphin boat, all Chris Rolf can say is he hopes the decision is made carefully.
Chris Rolf/Olin Marler Dolphin Cruise "It's really debatable there. You're deciding two different groups of people."

Laura Hussey "The Gulf Council meets Friday in Key West."