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.

For immediate release: March 29, 2012
Spiny lobster, grouper, vermilion snapper recreational openings, closures start April 1

Atlantic vermilion snapper and several species of Gulf of Mexico grouper will be back on the list of fish recreational anglers in state waters can take home for dinner starting April 1. The first day of the spiny lobster closed season is also April 1.
Vermilion snapper larger than 12 inches will be open to recreational harvest in state waters of the Atlantic through Oct. 31. State waters in the Atlantic are from shore to three miles out. Anglers may take up to five fish per day in Atlantic waters; however, the captain and crew of for-hire vessels may not keep the daily limit.
Gulf of Mexico grouper species that will open to harvest in state waters include red, black, yellowfin, yellowmouth, rock hind, red hind and scamp. This harvest season will remain open through Jan. 31. State waters in the Gulf are from shore to nine miles out.
Gulf of Mexico gag grouper will also open to harvest April 1 in state waters in the following counties only: Taylor, Jefferson, Wakulla and Franklin, including all waters of the Steinhatchee River, Apalachicola Bay and Indian Pass. This season is for 2012 only and will remain open through June 30. Gag grouper will be open to recreational harvest in Gulf of Mexico federal waters and the rest of state waters (not including Taylor, Jefferson, Wakulla and Franklin) from July 1 through Oct. 31. To learn more about the gag grouper season in the Gulf of Mexico, click
HERE.

Anglers targeting Gulf grouper must use circle hooks and have dehooking devices and venting tools aboard their boats. Anglers targeting vermilion snapper in Atlantic state waters must also have dehooking devices aboard their vessel. Use of these devices helps increase the chance of survival for a fish that is caught and released. To learn more about how to use these tools, click HERE

The spiny lobster recreational and commercial season closes to harvest in state waters starting April 1 and will reopen Aug. 6.
A two-day sport season is July 25 and 26.

Four License-Free Fishing Days start April 7

Grab your fishing rods and tackle box. It’s almost time – April 7 – to take advantage of the first of four license-free fishing days scheduled for this summer in Florida, according to Gov. Rick Scott, who highlighted the good news at a Cabinet meeting in Tallahassee.
“Fishing is a great way to enjoy Florida’s beautiful outdoors, great weather and a wonderful day with family and friends,” Scott said.  “License-free fishing days are the perfect opportunity to discover the fun and excitement of fishing and Florida’s great outdoors.”
The days are perfect chances for parents, who don’t yet have a license, to take youth fishing, or for avid anglers to introduce a friend to the recreational pursuit without having to purchase a license.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) spread out the opportunities this year so more people will be able to head for their favorite lakes and rivers or saltwater destinations on designated days. Instead of providing one weekend for freshwater fishing and one weekend for saltwater fishing, the Commissioners decided at their meeting in February to break up the days. You won’t need a recreational fishing license on the special days listed below.
Florida residents and nonresidents, mark these Saturdays on your calendar for 2012:

  • April 7 - Freshwater
  • June 2 – Saltwater
  • June 9 – Freshwater
  • Sept. 1 – Saltwater
  • The June 2 free saltwater fishing day coincides with the first weekend of Gulf red snapper season and National Fishing and Boating Week, which means there will be lots of other related activities going on too.
    The April 7 date occurs during a productive freshwater fishing period when the weather is usually comfortable. Plus it is Easter weekend, and many people like to fill the weekend with a variety of activities with family or friends.
    The June 9 date for freshwater fishing
    also coincides with the last day of National Fishing and Boating Week. Last year, 38 states had at least one license-free fishing day during this annual event.
    Sept. 1 is the Saturday of Labor Day Weekend, when lots of people have time to recreate and celebrate the traditional end-of-summer holiday. In addition, bay scallops, lobster and snook will be open for harvest on this date.
    All other bag limit, season and size restrictions apply on these dates. The license-free fishing designation applies only to recreational fishing, not commercial. To make your free fishing day successful, check out
    MyFWC.com/Fishing for fishing tips, locations and rules.

Those who venture out may discover why Florida is the Fishing Capital of the World and feel as if they are part of the sport’s business engine that propels a $7.5 billion economic impact and sustains 80,000 jobs. Fishing, however, is much more than a money-generating sport. Nature-based recreation can make people happier and healthier. And it’s fun and relaxing.

THE FOLLOWING THREE NEWS ITEMS ARE FROM PRESS RELEASES ON FEBRUARY COMMISSION MEETING ... FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT MYFWC.COM/COMMISSION

1. FWC approved two boating safety zones proposed by staff.

These are contingent upon supporting resolutions in Monroe and Volusia counties where slow-speed, minimum-wake zones will be created.

“The zones are designed to enhance boating safety in both areas by slowing down vessel traffic,” said Capt. Richard Moore, head of the FWC’s Boating and Waterways Section. Currently, boaters can travel on-plane in these areas.

The proposed Monroe County zone is adjacent to the U.S. 1 bridge over Jewfish Creek, extending 300 feet north and 800 feet south of the bridge fender system.

The other proposed zone is in the vicinity of the Highbridge Road bridge and boat ramp in Volusia County; this zone would extend 300 feet north of the bridge fender system and 300 feet south of the boat ramp.

The proposals amend Florida Administrative Code rules 68D-24.144 and 68D-24.164.
For additional information, visit
MyFWC.com/Boating or call 850-488-5600.

2. Some of Florida’s commercial fishermen will soon have more fishing opportunities.

Management changes will be made to the king mackerel harvest in southern Florida and the oyster harvest in Apalachicola Bay.

To learn more about these management changes, visit MyFWC.com/Commission and click on “Commission Meetings” and then “Agenda.

3. NB: ON THIS TOPIC, ALSO REFER to release of March 29, 2012 above ---

"Spiny lobster, grouper, vermilion snapper recreational openings, closures start April 1"

FWC voted Feb. 8 to change how gag grouper is managed in Gulf of Mexico state waters (excluding Monroe County).

The decision will achieve consistency with federal management efforts while potentially providing a region-specific recreational season in four counties.

The FWC manages marine fish from the shore to nine nautical miles in the Gulf of Mexico. The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council manages Gulf of Mexico waters farther than nine nautical miles out. The following changes will make state gag grouper management efforts the same as recent federal gag grouper management efforts in the Gulf of Mexico: setting the recreational open season from July 1 through Oct. 31 and lowering the minimum commercial size limit from 24 inches to 22 inches total length.

The Commission also authorized Chairman Kathy Barco and Executive Director Nick Wiley to issue an executive order opening gag grouper season in the state waters off Taylor, Jefferson, Wakulla and Franklin counties, including Apalachicola Bay and Indian Pass. This gag grouper recreational season, if implemented, will open harvest in state waters during April, May and June, and close harvest in those waters during the July-to-October season. These changes will better align fishing opportunity with fish availability.

“I think we have to be sensitive to the economic side and the natural resource side,” said Commissioner Charles W. Roberts III. “I don’t think there is anybody here, especially in this room, who would like to jeopardize gag grouper. This isn’t an easy decision. We have to rely on the data we have available and make good decisions.”

Gag grouper has been closed in Gulf of Mexico state waters since Nov. 16, 2011.

The FWC believes applying these management changes will allow gag grouper populations to rebuild quickly while balancing the needs of anglers.

To learn more, visit MyFWC.com/Commission and click on “Commission Meetings” and “Agenda.”

REPEATING IN APRIL

SNOOK SEASON HAS REOPENED ON ATLANTIC COAST ONLY

Recreational harvest season for snook reopened 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.

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.

Visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on "Saltwater" for more information on snook.

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

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