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Red snapper season extension is of benefit

Published 7:00am Saturday, July 19, 2014

The month of July has been a good one for those folks that fish for red snapper in South Mississippi.

And for that, we applaud the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources and Director Jamie Miller.

Miller decided last month to open up red snapper fishing in the state on the weekends, which at first was going to be off limits to all fishermen as new regulations were being considered gulf-wide.

Red snapper is a popular fish, so many fishermen and charter boat captains were upset when the federal recreational season was cut to just nine days this year. But, thanks to Miller’s ruling, Mississippi joined the four other Gulf States in extending the snapper season in their waters.

“Mississippi doesn’t want to be playing catch up,” said Miller. “I value our resources and our economy and fishermen, and we’re not going to be left behind.”

Miller says the agency has to do what’s right for Mississippi anglers. However, he thinks it’s unlikely the change will affect the length of next year’s federal season.

“Mississippi’s red snapper fishery plays such a small role in landings that we don’t anticipate having a real impact,” he says. “Alabama, Texas, Louisiana, Florida obviously play a bigger role in this fishery, so we don’t anticipate any negative feedback.”

Miller, who took over the DMR after it went through some very rough times, made the right decision in our opinion. The Commission on Marine Resources voted 3-0 to give him the authority to open a season in state waters.

“I value the relationship we have with our federal partners,” Miller said, “but at the end of the day, our agency must do what is right for Mississippi anglers.”

The nine miles of Mississippi waters will be open for red snapper fishing on July 4-6, 11-13, 18-20 and 25-27. The bag limit will be two red snapper per person with a minimum size of 16 inches.

The federal red snapper season lasted from June 1-9.

In 2012 the Mississippi Legislature approved extending state waters to nine miles for fisheries management, and the law went into effect July 1, 2013. However, fishermen are reminded that the federal government does not recognize this distance, and anyone possessing red snapper farther than three miles south of the barrier islands could receive citations from federal or state law enforcement officers. Fishing between three and nine miles in Mississippi waters is at the angler’s own risk.

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