Information from FWC

FWC UPDATE — Notes on Fishing Rules and other announcements

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (a/k/a FWC) keeps us up to date on changes that fishermen (cruising-fishermen included) should know, and other items of interest to boating people. As the audience is somewhat varied, we give a quick note on the news and suggest that those interested in specific topics check it all out at the FWC web site.

There's also information on boating, parks, ramps, etc., etc. and we'll hope to include news on anything we think you'll want to know about.

FWC's web site is www.MyFWC.com.

The following is from release dated December 6, 2011

SNOOK CLOSURE

Recreational harvest of snook closed in all Atlantic Coastal and inland waters, including Lake Okeechobee and the Kissimmee River on December 15. The season will reopen in Atlantic and state and federal waters Feb. 1, 2012.

Snook season remains closed in Gulf of Mexico state and federal waters through Aug. 31, 2012, by decision of the FWC after prolonged cold weather during the 2009-10 winter that affected snook numbers. (Catch and release is allowed during the closure and anglers are encouraged to handle and release them carefully to help ensure their survival.

For more information regarding the management of snook in Florida, click HERE.

The following is from release dated December 20, 2011

RECREATIONAL RED GROUPER BAG LIMIT TO INCREASE IN GULF STATE WATERS;
GROUPER SEASON CLOSURES NEAR.

The recreational red grouper bag limit in Gulf of Mexico state waters (excluding Monroe County) increased Dec. 30 from two to four fish, followed by the Jan. 1 season closure of shallow-water grouper in Atlantic state waters.

The red grouper bag limit increase is one of several fishery management changes made at the November FWC meeting in Key Largo.

Management changes in 2012 will also affect gag grouper season, currently closed to fishing in Gulf of Mexico state waters (excluding Monroe County) and will continue to be closed through March 31, 2012. (This includes the regularly scheduled annual closure from Feb. 1 through March 31 in Gulf state waters.) Both measures will help the state achieve consistency with federal red and gag grouper management efforts.

Federal managers are working on a plan to further protect gag grouper, which is overfished and undergoing overfishing in the Gulf. The FWC will revisit state gag grouper management efforts in Feb. 2012, once federal rules are solidified.

Season closures for red and gag grouper, as well as other shallow-water groupers, are also nearing. In Atlantic state waters, including Monroe County, the season closes Jan. 1 and reopens May 1. Shallow-water grouper season closes Feb. 1 in Gulf state waters and reopens April 1. Shallow-water groupers in Gulf state waters include gag, red, black, yellowfin and yellowmouth groupers; scamp; rock and red hind. In Atlantic state waters, it also includes tiger grouper, coney and graysby.

To learn more, click HERE.

MORE PROTECTION PROPOSED for Hammerheads, Tiger Sharks.

REPEATING IN JANUARY 2012 WITH UPDATE: On November 16, during their two-day meeting in Key Largo, FWC moved to prohibit the harvest of tiger sharks and three species of hammerheads from state waters in an effort to further protect these top predators that rely on Florida waters to survive.

The new measures go into effect Jan. 1, 2012 and also prohibit the possession, sale and exchange of tiger sharks and great, scalloped and smooth hammerhead sharks. These sharks can still be caught and released in state waters and can be taken in adjacent Federal waters. For more information, click on either "Recreational Regulations" or "Commercial."

JANUARY 2012 UPDATE: FWC is also working on an educational campaign highlighting fishing and handling techniques to increase survival rate of sharks caught and released while ensuring safety of anglers. These include:

  • Use tackle heavy enough to land a fish quickly, reducing exhaustion.
  • Release fish wile it is in the water when possible.
  • Use a de-hooking device to remove hooks safely.
  • Use non-stainless steel hooks that can dissolve if they remain in fish.
  • Use non-offset circle hooks to avoid gut-hooking fish. (More info as in paragraph above.)

REPEATING IN JANUARY 2012: RED DRUM MANAGEMENT PROMPTS FWC TO UP BAG LIMIT

At the same Key Largo meeting, FWC approved the following changes to take effect Feb. 1, 2012.

  • Create three management areas for red drum instead of one statewide management area;
  • Increase the number of red drum that a recreational fisherman can take per day in the northeast and northwest regions of the state from one to two red drum;
  • Establish a statewide vessel limit of eight red drum and
  • Limit the number of red drum that can be transported on land to six red drum per person.

For more information, click HERE.

SOUTH FLORIDA SPOTTED SEATROUT SEASON OPENS JANUARY 1.
MANAGEMENT CHANGES COMING SOON.

The recreational harvest season for spotted seatrout in southern Florida will reopen on January 1. Other management changes take effect February 1.

The South Florida region includes any Florida state waters and federal waters south of the Flagler-Volusia county line on the east coast. In the Gulf, that is south of a line running due west from the westernmost point of Fred Howard Park Causeway (about 1.17 miles south of the Pinellas/Pasco county line.

For more details on this click HERE; for more on the planned changes see announcement in our update for last month (in Archives).

Visit MyFWC.com for more information on all of the above.

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