USA - New study estimates three times more Red Snapper in Gulf of Mexico

A huge discovery for researchers after overfishing nearly wiped out the species.

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Red Snapper thrives in Gulf waters. In a first-of-its-kind study, scientists across the Gulf Coasts found an estimated 110 million Red Snapper in the Gulf of Mexico, compared to previous federal estimates of 36 million.

“We can use some sophisticated management approaches that hopefully will give everyone more access to those fish,” said Dr. Greg Stunz, who led the study on the Great Red Snapper Count out of Texas A&M at Corpus Christi and the Harte Research Institute.

Dr. Stunz said his team of researchers worked countless hours over the course of three years counting the Gulf’s snapper population.

The $12.5 million study was a collaborative effort across the Gulf of Mexico. About $9.5 million was provided by congressional appropriations through a NOAA Sea Grant, while the rest was funded through individual institutes involved.

“We assembled a team of really the best Red Snapper scientists around,” said Stunz.

The team used remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) to go below the surface and count the fish.

“Of course with the Mississippi outflow, that’s not as easy because the visibility is zero many times,” he said. In which case, sonar systems were used to count fish through soundwaves, finding an abundance of snapper west of the Mississippi off the coasts of Louisiana and Texas.

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