CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Gulf of Mexico fishermen out for Red Snapper starting June 1 will have an opportunity to contribute important data to one of the largest fisheries studies in the U.S. – and possibly snag a high-dollar reward in the process.
Researchers with the Great Red Snapper Count, a project led by the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies’ Center for Sportfish Science and Conservation at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, have been out on the water all spring tagging and releasing 4,000 legal-sized Red Snapper in preparation for the recreational fishing season opener.
Reported tags from recaptured fish will be worth $250 per fish. Fish that are double-tagged to estimate tag shedding rates are worth up to $500. But the data is worth so much more. Success of the tagging study will rely immensely on participation from stakeholders like recreational and commercial fishermen reporting their tagged catch.
“This is a great opportunity for everyday anglers to contribute to the science that supports the sustainability of Gulf fisheries,” said HRI Fisheries and Ocean Health Chair and Sportfish Center Director Dr. Greg Stunz. “We are very proud to partner with the citizen scientists to achieve a common goal, and as a bonus, reward them for their effort when returning tagged fish.
A yellow tag labeled with text beginning with RS followed by a unique five-digit ID number will be placed beneath the dorsal fin of each fish. If you capture a tagged Red Snapper, whether you plan to keep or release it, clip and save the tag and record the date, the length and weight of the fish, and the coordinates where the fish was caught. Then call the hotline printed on the tag to report your recapture and claim the reward.
Because the physical tag must be mailed in to claim the reward, fishermen should always clip off and save the tag, even if they plan to release the fish. Rewards will be issued through Dec. 31, 2019.
This high-reward tagging study gathers important data for the study while giving anglers an opportunity to get involved in the science that helps to manage their fishery – and possibly get paid in the process. Each reported and returned tag will be combined with estimates of catch and effort from participating fishermen to help the Great Red Snapper Count team develop their estimate of the overall Red Snapper population in the Gulf.
The Great Red Snapper Count is a large-scale, two-year research project designed to independently estimate the abundance – or population size – of Red Snapper in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. Results from this study will be used to supplement the stock assessment-derived abundance estimate for Red Snapper, with the goal of ensuring the most robust management possible for the species.
The Sportfish Center is leading a team of 21 leading fisheries experts from across the Gulf and beyond, who are employing a number of scientific tools to reach this estimate, including: habitat classification, visual and acoustic surveys, depletion surveys, and this high-reward tagging study.