State News

GA DNR Asks Those Fishing for Red Snapper This Weekend to Donate Their Fish Carcasses

Headed out to the waters this weekend?

Each year, NOAA Fisheries announces the season opening dates for red snapper in federal waters of the South Atlantic, in addition to the recreational season length.  For the 2021 season:

  • The recreational sector will open for harvest on the following 3 days:
    • July 9, 10, and 11, 2021 (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) – The recreational season opens at 12:01 a.m., local time, on July 9, 2021, and closes at 12:01 a.m., local time, on July 12, 2021.
    • The recreational annual catch limit is 29,656 fish. The recreational bag limit is one red snapper per person per day. This applies to private and charterboat/headboat vessels (the captain and crew on for-hire vessels may retain the recreational bag limit).
  • The commercial sector will open for harvest at 12:01 a.m., local time, on July 12, 2021, and will close at 12:01 a.m., local time, on January 1, 2022, unless the commercial annual catch limit is met or projected to be met before this date.

Each recreational angler is allowed one red snapper per day with no size restriction.

If you decide to fish for red snapper, there are several ways you can help the Georgia DNR collect valuable data.

  • You can place your red snapper carcasses in a chest freezer located along the Georgia Coast. A $50 Academy Sports gift card will be randomly awarded to two participants who donate red snapper carcasses. 
  • You can provide information about each of your fishing trips by completing a brief Red Snapper Fishing Survey.

The information provided by fish carcasses is used in a variety of analyses, all of which help biologists and managers better understand the status of Georgia’s coastal fish populations. These data can be used in a descriptive manner to examine trends in the size and age structure of a population such as tracking changes in the average size of spotted seatrout over time. Often times the data from fish carcasses are used in very sophisticated analyses such as the coastal stock assessment for Atlantic coast red drum in which length and age information collected from donated red drum carcasses are used by stock assessment scientists with the National Marine Fisheries Service.

Anglers are encouraged to visit the site on best fishing practices to learn more about releasing fish (e.g., videos of fish released with a descending device, how to use various types of devices, best practices to release fish).  Descending devices rapidly descend fish to the depth at which they were caught.  Releasing at depth has the potential to significantly improve survival.  As of July 15, 2020, NOAA now requires fishermen targeting snapper grouper offshore to have a descending device on board, rigged and ready for use.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources Coastal Resources Division initiated the Marine Sportfish Carcass Recovery Project in fall of 1997. This project takes advantage of the fishing efforts of hundreds of anglers by turning filleted fish carcasses that anglers would normally discard into a source of much needed data on Georgia’s marine sportfish. The project is a true partnership of saltwater anglers, marine businesses, conservation groups, and the Coastal Resources Division. The Georgia Power Foundation has been instrumental in providing supplemental funding for this project.

The participating marinas include:

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