- Associated Press - Sunday, May 25, 2014

BILOXI, Miss. (AP) - The Mississippi Department of Marine Resources will start its voluntary red snapper reporting program for recreational fishermen on June 1.

The purpose of the program is to allow agency officials to better track how many red snapper are being harvested and landed in Mississippi.

Last week, NOAA Fisheries announced that the red snapper season would be nine days, beginning at 12:01 a.m. June 1 and closing at 12:01 a.m. June 10. Before that, the season was set at 11 days. The number of days allowed for red snapper has decreased over the past few years.

The Sun Herald reports (http://bit.ly/1mbqSHY) the program received unanimous approval by the Commission on Marine Resources at its Tuesday meeting.

The idea for the reporting program came from the MDMR Red Snapper Summit that the agency hosted earlier this month. Over 100 recreational and for-hire (charter boat) fishermen attended and shared their ideas for improving data collection.

Recreational and for-hire fishermen will be able to go to www.dmr.ms.gov to submit their information about the species. The agency also will release a mobile phone app that fishermen can use to submit information soon.

At the snapper summit, anglers promised to support development and implementation of sampling that would directly affect accuracy of red snapper stock assessment; there was a mandatory reporting for all for-hire (charter) vessels; harvest of multiple species during red snapper season; federal legislation that would allow all Gulf states to manage red snapper out nine nautical miles; and state authority to manage red snapper throughout the Gulf of Mexico.

Because of the input, MDMR officials will develop formal recommendations for the Gulf Council to consider; continue to work with congressional delegates on granting authority to manage selected fisheries out to the proposed nine-mile state boundary, develop a comprehensive report from the summit for review and get considered at the federal level.

“We are working at the council level and the agency level,” MDR executive director Jamie Miller said in a news release. “We’re looking at all options. We’re having open and constant conversation about what we can do.”

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Information from: The Sun Herald, http://www.sunherald.com