Federal regulation has cut red snapper season from 44 days to 11 days this year. To answer questions and hear the concerns of red snapper fishermen, the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (M.D.M.R.) held a red snapper summit Tuesday night. The red snapper season is a tangled mess of lawsuits, uncertain data, and angry fishermen.
One of those angry fishermen is Captain Jay Trochesset, the owner of Silver Dollar Charters. Captain Jay has his boat booked months in advance for red snapper fishing trips, trips he can no longer take. Trochesset says, “I've lost six or seven trips that I can't reschedule at about $3,000 a trip. So it’s affected it. I snapper fish a lot and I know the injustice that's going on with the snap fishery.” Captain Jay says this boat, the Silver Dollar III, won't be making as many trips for red snapper this year because of the limited season. This is costing him thousands of dollars. Trochesset also says, “So the 18,000 to 20,000 I know I've lost, that relates to tax dollars that the state of Mississippi has lost. People come fish with me, they stay at a hotel. They're going to eat. So it's a trickle-down effect. It hurts everybody, not just me.”
The M.D.M.R. says commercial fishing is regulated, but recreational is not, and commercial fishermen say this causes overfishing. After commercial anglers won a lawsuit about overfishing, the season was shortened to 11 days for the recreational anglers. Jamie Miller, the Director of the M.D.M.R., says, “We're all frustrated that the data is inaccurate or at least not up to date enough to make science-based decisions. So I don't want to spend a lot of time arguing about the data, because frankly, we agree, the data is not sufficient.”
Miller hopes after hearing feedback from those in attendance, he can go to the Fishery Council with better suggestions for counting recreational fishing, which many hope will lead to a longer season. The red snapper season this year will run from June 1st to June 11th.