Pensacola News Journal featured the opening of Red Snapper season. The joys of living on the Gulf include the punctuated celebrations with each new seasonal harvest of ocean and bayou species (from shrimp to crawfish, pompano to king mackerel to red snapper – my favorite. Below I’ve provided a couple of links to how to prepare Red Snapper. Done right, the flesh is so flavorful and creamy, it melts in your mouth. The You Tube below will show you how to prepare the snapper from fishing line to table.
Besides local fare and recreational fishing, Red Snapper harvests are a commercial industry. In the 1930’s the Louisiana Department of Conservation reported nearly 10M pounds of red snapper were harvested in Florida. An ironic and fortuitous outcome, the 4,000 oil rigs in the Western Gulf of Mexico built since 1946 have increased reef habitat for snapper resulting in a huge gain in potential maximum harvest, according to Dr. Bob Shipp, Chairman of the Department of Marine Sciences at the University of South Alabama.
While this new maximum harvest potential is hopeful, the fact is that the majority of red snapper catches are young. This means they will not be reproducing for the normal lifespan of up to 50 years of age. Ocean Conservancy:
“Most red snapper caught in the Gulf today are between three and six years old, which means they miss out on decades of reproductive opportunity. Bigger, older red snappers produce many more eggs than young ones.”
Sport fishermen and commercial fishing operations harvest young snapper by the millions of pounds each season. So while reef habitat may be increasing the habitat and thus the population of red snapper in the Gulf, the harvest is disproportionately taking younger snapper. That’s why you may hear about the increased populations of snapper while others warn of over fishing. Fishermen should take larger fish in deeper water (100-300 feet).
For more information about Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper go here.