NOAA Fisheries extends red-snapper season in federal waters 2 days

Tropical Storm Colin’s surge across Florida was briefer than anticipated, although it still took an economic toll on the state’s $7.6-million fishing industry in the Gulf of Mexico.

In the storm’s wake, anglers will get an extended season.

North Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries announced a two-day extension to red-snapper fishing in federal waters (beyond 9 miles from shore) Wednesday after appeals from fishermen and Gov. Rick Scott. The season, which began June 1, was originally scheduled to conclude at 12:01 a.m. on Friday. Now it will close at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday.

“Snapper season is 9-11 days and the weather disrupts a lot of that time,” said Larry McGuire, captain of Show Me the Fish Carters in Bradenton Beach. “It needs to be a longer season.”

Charter boats and federally permitted for-hire vessels, such as the one McGuire operates out of Bradenton Beach Marina, can fish in federal waters through July 16. Their longer season is new this season.

Scott sent a letter to the Commerce Department Wednesday requesting a three-day extension to recreational red snapper season in federal waters to offset the stormy conditions that kept boats out of the water at the start of the week. Scott declared a state of emergency for 34 counties, including Manatee, on Monday. And McGuire wasn’t able to take his boat out Tuesday or Wednesday, because of residual rough conditions.

“I urge you to extend the recreational season during a weekend this month to ensure Floridians and our visitors have the opportunity to fish for red snapper and Florida’s Gulf coast communities can make up for economic losses caused by the storm,” Scott wrote in his letter to Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker.

“Thank you to Governor Rick Scott for recognizing that Florida’s resident and visiting anglers are an important part of our state’s economy,” Keep Florida Fishing policy director Kellie Ralston said in a statement. “We appreciate and fully support the Governor’s request.”

Scott requested an extension of three weekend days — either Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays — before July 1 to make up for the lost opportunities presented by the storm. Anglers will now get Friday and Saturday this week.

Snapper season for state waters — from shore to nine nautical miles out — will continue through July 10 and then reopen for Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from Labor Day through the end of October.

David Wilson: 941-745-7057, @DBWilson2