The Great Red Snapper Count – a collaborative, multi-state effort to estimate the number of red snapper in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico – is in full swing.
This spring, the project team is initiating the final component of the project: a tagging study, which will rely immensely on participation from stakeholders such as commercial and recreational fishers.
Scientists will tag and release 4,000 legal-sized red snapper across the U.S. Gulf of Mexico immediately prior to the federal Gulf of Mexico red snapper recreational fishing season. To ensure consistency, all of the red snapper will be tagged by scientists working on the Great Red Snapper Count, in collaboration with recreational and commercial fishers.
Yellow tags with text beginning with “RS” followed by a unique 5-digit ID number will be placed beneath each fish’s dorsal fin. Most fish will have one tag, but some fish will have two tags so that tag shedding rates can be estimated.
Tags from recaptured fish will be worth $250 per fish. Recreational and commercial fishers can get involved in the tagging study by recapturing tagged fish and reporting those recaptures by calling the phone number printed on the tags.*
Upon catching a tagged red snapper, fishers should record the fishing port from which they departed, the date, the fish’s length and weight, and the latitude and longitude where the fish was caught. Because the physical tag must be mailed in to claim the reward, fishers should always clip off and save the tag, even if they plan to release the fish.
Fishers who report their recapture AND return the physical tag to the research team will receive the $250 reward. Tag returns and estimates of catch and harvest from participating fishers will be used in models to estimate red snapper abundance.
For more information, please visit us at www.SnapperCount.org.
*EDITOR'S NOTE: Fishermen will be able to recapture tagged red snapper during red snapper season. More information on how to participate will be released this spring.