HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) — Alabama's recreational fishing season for red snapper will close in territorial waters six weeks earlier than usual.
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Marine Resources Division said the season officially closes at 11:59 p.m. Sunday. The planned closing date was Sept. 3.
News outlets report the quota of 984,291 pounds issued under NOAA Fisheries' Alabama Recreational Red Snapper Exempted Fishing Permit is expected to be met by the closure date.
"Alabama anglers fished extremely hard on the good weather days during the season," said Marine Resources Director Scott Bannon. "That level of effort, coupled with larger average-sized fish harvested this year as compared to last year, resulted in a daily harvest rate two times higher than 2017, which prompted an earlier than anticipated closure."
The department said possession of red snapper in Alabama waters while state waters are closed is prohibited regardless of where the fish were harvested.
State anglers may fish in federal waters off the coast of Alabama (outside of 9 nm) and land in a state that is open to the landing of red snapper, but they must adhere to the open state's rules and not transit in Alabama state waters with red snapper on board.
In-season landings estimates were calculated through the use of Snapper Check, the program established in 2014 to collect mandatory trip reports from anglers, and this monitoring tool was a key component of the EFP.