red snapper Good news from the Gulf of Mexico – the red snapper is recovering!The red snapper population living in the Gulf of Mexico is showing signs of recovery, according to new information obtained by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the United States (NOAA).

“The update showed harvest levels were still a bit too high in 2008; however, scientific projections are promising for 2009, indicating that the stock may improve enough to support higher harvest levels,” said Dr. Bonnie Ponwith, Southeast Fisheries Science Center director for NOAA’s Fisheries Service. “This is very exciting news and is evidence of how science and management can work together to protect our natural resources.”

In response to a rapidly dwindling red snapper population, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council began restricting red snapper fishing in the mid-1980s and in 2007 a catch share program was implemented for commercial fishermen.

“This has been our most challenging fishery issue in the Gulf of Mexico to date,” said Dr. Roy Crabtree, southeast regional administrator for NOAA’s Fisheries Service. “The Gulf Council deserves a lot of credit for making some very difficult decisions and commercial and recreational fishermen deserve equal credit for complying with the regulations to help this species recover.”

The red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico is managed separately from the population living along the coasts of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and eastern Florida. In December 2009, NOAA’s Fisheries Service announced a temporary rule to protect the red snapper along this coastline as the population is in poor condition, much like the Gulf of Mexico population used to be. The temporary rule will become effective today, January 4th.

For more information please see the NOAA News Release.