Federal panel may ease red-snapper ban

The plan would need to be finalized by the Commerce Secretary and published in the Federal Registry to take effect. Dates for red snapper fishing weren’t available yet, but fishermen would have a 30-day notice when the fishing weekends would be held.

Anglers have been barred from catching the prized fish in federal waters, from North Carolina to the Florida Keys, since January 2010 after federal officials declared it was being overfished.

The latest study indicates a limited amount of red-snapper fishing could be allowed this year and still keep the overall fish population on a positive track for recovery.

In actual numbers, that amounts to 13,067 fish available this year, according to the council, a regional body that writes and votes on fishing regulations. The current proposal sets aside 72 percent of that catch for recreational fisherman and 28 percent for commercial anglers.

Recreational anglers could enjoy two special three-day fishing weekends. The limit would be one fish per person per day, with the fishing weekend to be held later this year. There would be no size limit.

Commercial fisherman could have a seven-day season for red snapper fishing, with further catch allowed if the quota hasn’t been reached yet. Captains would be limited to 50 pounds, gutted weight, for each fishing trip. There would be no size limit, either.

This is a breaking news story. Check back for updates.

llelis@tribune.com or 352-742-5927

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