NOAA Fisheries reminds operators of vessels issued Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) for-hire reef fish permits at any time during this fishing year that the red snapper season is currently closed.
The Gulf red snapper season for vessels with a Federal Gulf Charter/Headboat Permit for Reef Fish opened on June 1, 2023, and closed on August 25, 2023.
Recently, Florida announced a red snapper weekend season extension for private anglers and state permitted for-hire vessels. This created some confusion as to whether this season extension also applies to vessels issued federal for-hire permits. To clarify:
This extension does not apply to vessels that have been issued a federal Gulf Charter/Headboat Permit any time during the current fishing year.
Persons on vessels that have been issued a Federal Gulf Charter/Headboat permit any time during the fishing year cannot fish for or possess red snapper in federal or state waters when the federal for-hire season is closed.
The red snapper federal for-hire season is currently closed throughout the Gulf.
The federal for-hire season is scheduled to open again on June 1, 2024.
Regulations for Fishing in Federal Waters:
Vessels issued a Federal Gulf Charter/Headboat Permit for Reef Fish any time during the fishing year:
Persons aboard the vessel cannot fish for or possess red snapper in federal or state waters when the federal for-hire season is closed.
These restrictions apply even if the vessel is not operating as a charter vessel; for example, the captain is taking his or her family fishing.
These restrictions apply regardless of any other permit on the vessel.
State licensed for-hire vessels that have not been issued a Federal Gulf Charter/Headboat Permit for Reef Fish any time during the fishing year:
The delegation of management to the Gulf states for the red snapper private angling component does not allow for-hire vessels to fish for or possess red snapper in or from federal waters without a federal for-hire permit.
Please see state regulations relative to fishing for red snapper in state waters.
Vessels with a Federal Gulf Commercial Reef Fish Permit:
Persons aboard the vessel can recreationally fish for red snapper when the private angling season is open if they declare they are recreationally fishing when they hail out through the vessel monitoring system or call-in system.
This does not apply if the vessel has also been issued a Federal Gulf Charter/Headboat Permit for Reef Fish (see above) any time during the fishing year.
While on a recreational trip, each person aboard is restricted to the bag limit, no commercial quantities of any reef fish species can be on board, and the fish may not be sold.