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    Snapper, Genuine red snapper, American reds,
    Spot snapper

    Harvested off the southeastern United States for well over a century, red snapper is an iconic
    American fish, extremely popular among commercial and recreational fishermen alike. But this
    popularity comes with a downside – red snapper has been fished too heavily since the 1980s,
    and both stocks are currently below the level scientists have determined to be sustainable
    (overfished). However, both stocks are now managed under rebuilding plans, the strategy used to
    manage harvest at a level that will allow an overfished stock to rebuild to target population levels
    by a specified deadline

    In the past, the Gulf of Mexico red snapper fishery had too many fishermen to be an
    environmentally and economically sustainable fishery. As the red snapper population declined,
    the number of fishermen stayed the same, and they raced to harvest a share of this once-
    abundant resource. Fishing seasons started getting shorter, and the fishery became inefficient
    and unsafe, catching too many juvenile red snapper and further hindering the rebuilding of the
    stock. In response to these poor conditions, fishermen voted to change how this fishery was
    managed and supported a commercial “catch share program.” In 2007, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery
    Management Council and NOAA Fisheries implemented an Individual Fishing Quota program (a
    type of catch share) for the commercial fishery to reduce the number of fishermen and improve
    the operation of the fishery. Under the program, managers set a limit on the amount of red
    snapper that can be caught every year, then allocate fixed shares of this amount to eligible
    fishermen. Fishermen can harvest their share whenever they choose, slowing the pace of the
    fishery and easing the pressure on the resource.

    In the few years the program's been in place, fishermen are no longer exceeding catch limits and
    are catching less juvenile snapper. And although fewer fishermen can participate in the fishery,
    the remaining ones are earning more money for their catch. Best of all, scientists recently
    confirmed that the Gulf red snapper stock is rebuilding as planned and commercial catch has not
    exceeded the allowable catch limit. Since overfishing is no longer occurring, managers recently
    increased the amount of red snapper fishermen can catch.

    Red snapper are generally found at depths between 30 and 620 feet along the eastern coast of
    North, Central, and northern South America and in the Gulf of Mexico. They are rare north of the

    Larval red snapper swim freely within the water column. Juveniles live in shallow waters over
    sandy or muddy bottom habitat. Adults live on the bottom, usually near hard structures on the
    continental shelf that have moderate to high relief, such as coral reefs, artificial reefs, rocks,
    ledges, and caves, sloping soft-bottom areas, and limestone deposits.

    Red snapper tend to be redder the deeper the water they live in. They have a long triangular face
    with the upper part sloping more strongly than the lower. Their jaws are equal, with the lower one
    sometimes slightly projecting. They have enlarged canine teeth, which is why they’re called

Red Snapper: Lutjanus
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