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. In that regard, we should note that FWC has finally unveiled its long awaited Public Boat Ramp On-Line Database, which includes full info on the many Fresh- and Salt-water (Marine) Launch Ramps throughout the state. There’s a link to it on the FWC’s Home page: www.MyFWC.com. You can also access it directly from this site’s “Launch Ramps” page.

SNOOK SEASON REOPENING ON ATLANTIC COAST ONLY

Recreational harvest season for snook reopens on Feb. 1 in Florida's Atlantic Coastal and inland waters, including Lake Okeechobee and the Kissimmee River.

Anglers may keep one snook between 28 and 32 inches total length per day in the allowable harvest areas only. Fishermen targeting snook must have a snook permit as well as a saltwater license unless they are exempt from having a license.

REPEATING w/UPDATE IN FEB.

Snook season remains closed in Gulf of Mexico state and federal waters through Aug. 31, 2012 (Catch and release is allowed during the closure and anglers are encouraged to handle and release them carefully to help ensure their survival.

Click HERE for more information on snook.

The following is from release dated December 20, 2011, updated and expanded with January 26 release.

GULF GROUPER RECREATIONAL SEASON CLOSED FEB. 1

Several species of grouper, including black, red, yellowfin, scamp, yellowmouth, rock hind and red hind will be closed to recreational harvest from Feb. 1 through March 31 in Gulf of Mexico state waters excluding Monroe County.

Gag grouper, which has been closed in Gulf state waters since Nov. 16, 2011, is also included in the seasonal closure through March 31. The gag grouper population is considered too low, and too many are being caught for the population to be sustainable.

Federal fishery managers are working to rebuild the gag grouper population. Changes in federal management efforts include setting the gag grouper recreational harvest season from July 1 to Oct. 31, although the new management changes will not be implemented until the final rule is printed in the Federal Register. FWC Commissioners, at their February Commission meeting in Havana, will consider whether to adopt similar standards for Gulf of Mexico state waters.

The upcoming two-month recreational harvest closure of all eight grouper species, often referred to as shallow-water grouper, is also intended to help rebuild the gag grouper fishery. Gag grouper spawn during the February and March closure, so limiting the harvest of other grouper helps reduce the number of gag grouper that are caught unintentionally and die after being released.

More information regarding grouper fishing regulations, including the current grouper closure in Atlantic and Monroe County waters, is available online at MyFWC.com/Fishing. Visit MyFWC.com/Commission to learn more about the February Commission meeting

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 HERE.

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)

RED DRUM & SPOTTED SEATROUT MANAGEMENT CHANGES

The following is from earlier releases updated and expanded January 27, 2012.

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.

... SEATROUT MANAGEMENT EFFORTS CHANGE FEBRUARY 1.

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

These changes include redefining the areas where spotted seatrout are managed by splitting the state info four management zones instead of three.

The recreational season will be open year-round (includes the removal of the February closures in northern Florida and the November through December closure in southern Florida;

Raising the recreational bag limit in Northeast Florida from five to six;

Changing commercial seasons based on region - lengthening them from three to five months in the Northwest and Southwest zones (June 1 - Oct. 31 for both) and in the Southeast region (May 1 - Sept. 30) and from three months to six months in the northeast zone (June 1 - Nov. 30);

Allowing spotted seatrout to be sold 30 days after the close of the regional commercial season with the proper paperwork;

Changing the commercial vessel limit to 150 when there are two commercially licensed fishermen aboard. Both species' rule changes are the result of a successful management strategy.

Use these links to learn more about red drum and spotted seatrout recreational fishing. Maps appear on the FWC site re: the areas for both species.

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

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