Marine Fisheries Division encourages anglers to donate red snapper carcasses to science

MOREHEAD CITY

The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries will collect red snapper carcasses from recreational fishermen during the upcoming red snapper-mini season.

The division has set up four temporary freezer locations, in addition to the eight carcass collection locations available throughout the year, where recreational fishermen can take their red snapper carcasses.

The temporary locations are:

  • Bridge Tender Marina, Wrightsville Beach
  • Carolina Beach Municipal Docks
  • Capt. Stacy Fishing Center, Atlantic Beach
  • Carolina Princess Headboat Dock, Morehead City

The year-round locations are (map available here): 

  • Cape Pointe Marina, Harkers Island
  • East Side Bait and Tackle, Washington
  • Frisco Rod & Gun, Frisco
  • Jennette’s Pier, Nags Head
  • Sea View Crab Company, Wilmington
  • Tex’s Tackle, Wilmington
  • NC Division of Marine Fisheries Headquarters, Morehead City
  • Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point- Environmental Affairs Office (available only to those with military base access)

Anglers who donate a red snapper carcass will receive a citation (certificate) from the N.C. Saltwater Fishing Tournament.

When cleaning the fish, anglers should leave the head and tail intact and, if possible, leave the guts in the fish. Anglers who fished on a charter boat or head boat should let the fish cleaner know the carcass will be donated.

Instructions on how to deposit the carcasses are posted on each freezer. Anglers will be asked to give information related to how and when the fish was caught. Fishermen also will be asked for their names and addresses if they wish to receive a citation.

Division biologists will measure the fish, determine the sex, if possible, and remove the otoliths (ear bones) to determine the age of the fish. The information collected will be provided to the National Marine Fisheries Service for use in future red snapper stock assessments.

Recreational anglers also may log information about their recreational trips and catches through the MyFishCount electronic reporting mobile app. The app is available for free download at the Google Play and Apple App Store or through the MyFishCount website. Reports of the number of harvested and released fish will improve the accuracy of National Marine Fisheries Service’s catch estimates.

The 2021 recreational red snapper season will open for three days – Friday, Saturday, and Sunday – July 9-11. The season officially opens at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, July 9 and closes at 12:01 a.m. on Monday July 12.

Anglers may keep one fish per person per day. There will be no minimum or maximum size limit. Captain and crew on for-hire vessels may retain the recreational bag limit.

The commercial red snapper season will open at 12:01 a.m. July 12 with a 75-pound gutted weight trip limit. It will close at 12:01 a.m. Jan. 1, 222 or when the commercial quota is met (whichever comes first). Division biologists will obtain data from commercially caught red snapper at the fish houses. Commercially caught carcasses should not be left in the Carcass Collection Program freezers.

Gear regulations implemented last year for commercial, for-hire, and recreational snapper-grouper fishing remain in effect. The regulations require:

  • A descending device be on board and readily available for use while fishing for or possessing snapper-grouper species; and,
  • Use of non-offset (also called inline), non-stainless-steel circle hooks when fishing for or possessing snapper-grouper species with hook-and-line gear and natural baits, regardless of tackle or lure configuration. A non-offset  circle hook is a hook with the point directed perpendicular back towards the shank, with the point and barb in the same plane as the shank (see diagrams). Offset circle hooks and stainless-steel circle hooks are not allowed for snapper grouper fishing.

For specific recreational harvest regulations, go to Proclamation FF-36-2021. For specific commercial harvest regulations, go to Proclamation FF-37-2021.

Read the NOAA Fisheries announcement of the red snapper season here.

More information on best fishing practices, including how-to videos for rigging descending devices, can be found here.

Read more about North Carolina’s red snapper carcass collection program here, or, for more information, contact Carole Willis, division sportfishing specialist, at 252-808-8081 or carole.y.willis@ncdenr.gov.

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