Federal authorities seized 488 illegally caught red snapper amounting to nearly 17,000 pounds.
“If you have somebody going out there and stealing 5,000 pounds of red snapper in one day, two days, they’re taking away from the fishery,” said Tim Francis, a boat captain at Dolphin Docks in Port Aransas. Boat captain Ken Sims added that he saw poachers when he previously worked in the commercial fishing business. “Guys come up there and just sit there and kill them and kill them,” Sims said.
Red snapper fishing is open to those with a license year-round in state waters, but catches are limited to four per person at less than 15 inches each, according to Captain Marvin Tamez with Texas Parks and Wildlife. Fishing in federal waters, 9 nautical miles from shore, is limited to the red snapper season, that typically kicks off June 1st and ends once a limit is reached.
“There are so many red snapper out there, it’s mismanaged in federal waters, that it would be very tempting to go out there and catch a whole bunch of those red snapper and sell them illegally,” Francis said.
The fishermen say they would like to see regulations loosened for sport and commercial fishermen. They feel that would reduce the over abundant red snapper population and possibly discourage poaching.