Historic landing and marketing of common snook in Florida

The date of the inserted picture goes back to June, 1949 and has the title: “Commercial seine net fishermen bringing their boat full of snook to market in Naples, Florida”.

Photo credit: Courtesy of the State Archives of Florida – This photo was photographed in 1949.

Fishing boat filled with snook (1949)





Review by: Abdel Rahman El Gamal (Founder of the website):

Looking for the fish market before the attached picture was taken, a historic book titled “Tales of Naples – Some of which are true” states that in 1922, Bembury Storter and his family opened a little fish market which was built on the side of the City Dock at Crayton Cove. He also hand built boats at this location with his son, Wilbur. Three mullet, cleaned, prepared and wrapped in fresh newspaper, could be taken home for the low cost of 10¢ per pound”.

In regard to common snook, Centropomus undecimalis, is a popular gamefish as well as is supporting one of the largest and most popular fisheries in Florida.

Prior to World War II, human consumption of snook was low because the fish developed a “soapy” taste as a result of cleaning practices that left the skin attached to the fillet and so snook were considered “cat food,”.  However, the demand on snook during the protein-short war years, leading to intensifying the catch to meet the demand.

During 1940s onward, the abundance and hence the landings of snook in Florida witnessed significant fluctuation reaching to a steadily decline in the species abundance and in commercial landing in the mid-1950s to the level that the Florida legislature passed stricter regulations in 1957 including rules which made it illegal to buy or sell snook, set the bag limit at four snook per day, and limited the legal capture of snook to “hook and line” only.

As the conservation efforts continued, the legislature, in 1981, set possession limits at two snook per day with the provision that no snook longer than 18 inches fork length could be kept during June or July 1982-1986. Further actions were taken in 1982 through closing the snook fishery during winter (January and February) and during summer (June and July) during 1982-1986. The biological reasons behind that were to halt the decline in the snook abundance by eliminating the catch during the winter months, when snook become lethargic in the cold water and so can easily be harvested, and by eliminating the take during the summer spawning season.

It may worth mentioning that over several decades, Florida lost more than 50% of its mangroves; the snook’s principal habitat. Therefore, overfish and habitat loss contributed at different levels in the decline of snook’s stocks in Florida.

Finally, because of the high economic value of common snook in the fishery resource to the state of Florida, the ongoing efforts to enhance the abundance level of the species continue including restrictive management, angler conservation and promoting the value of catch-and-release fishing of the species.






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