Opinion: Snapper rules give conflicting message

Federal fisheries managers have boosted the amount of red snapper by weight we’re allowed to take from the Gulf of Mexico this year by 380,000 pounds.

That translates to an increase for recreational anglers of 186,000 pounds compared with the 2012 allocation.

Nobody is cheering, though I expect commercial snapper fisherman are mildly encouraged by the news. They’re getting 194,000 pounds more than they did last year.

As I’ve said before, each annual increase in the snapper allocation is a sign the population is rebuilding and no longer being overfished. And yet you wouldn’t know it by the proposed season lengths.

The feds might liken our ever-shrinking seasons to a doctor’s orders to continue taking antibiotics long after our symptoms have gone away.

The difference is we trust our doctor.

This year’s federal prescription calls for a 12-day Texas season, a nine-day Louisiana season, a 21-day Florida season and a 28-day season for Alabama and Mississippi.

The federal snapper season begins June 1 in all five states. The closing dates for each will be officially announced in May. But don’t expect much to change. If you’d like to comment on the 2013 snapper allocation, I’ll provide instructions later in this column.

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