Snappers and Shrimp
Fishing for the red snapper is nothing new to the fishing industry. In fact, the red snapper has been a target of fisherman for over 150 years, starting in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Pensacola, Florida in the 1840s. Red snappers became popular among recreational fisherman in the 1950’s and by 1973, private boats made more than 363,000 trips per year for snappers. While charter boats made another 21,000 trips per year. The mass increase in the fishing of the red snapper has led to overfishing and population decline among the species.
From 1964 until the mid- 1970s, commercial landings of red snappers were relatively stable at around 3,025 tons. In 1979, we saw a decline to about 2,475 tons, but by 1983 the landings had recovered to 3,631 tons. The eastern population is now commercially extinct due to earlier overfishing, and the fishery has been moving westward since 1970. In the 1980’s the red snapper fishery threatened to collapse entirely.
In August, 1991, the first closing of the red snapper fishery by the Federal Government had come. The closure apparently had a beneficial effect on snapper mortality because when they reopened in January the catch rates were much higher than expected. Fisherman then interpreted the high catch rates as an indication that the red snapper population was healthier than government scientist believed. With the fisherman objecting to the closure, the fishery was reopened for one month in April. The trip limit however was set at 1,000lbs. However, scientist determined after they reopened, that the high catch rates in 1992 were not a substantial recovery of the red snapper.
The scientist came to this conclusion by finding that the median length of red snappers harvested had declined over the years. This indicated that younger fish were being caught, which showed the decline in older fish and possibly the overall population. The government then responded in 1984 with a minimum size for commercially...