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.

STONE CRAB SEASON opened October 15. Season lasts until May 16, 2012. More information on regulations at MyFWC.com/Rules, click on "Fishing - Saltwater.

MORE PROTECTION PROPOSED for Hammerheads, Tiger Sharks.

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, visit MYFWC.com/Fishing and click on "Saltwater Fishing and either "Recreational Regulations" or "Commercial."

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.

FWC CHANGES GAG, RED GROUPER MANAGEMENT IN GULF, SOON ACHIEVING CONSISTENCY WITH FEDERAL PROTECTIONS

The FWC voted on Nov. 16 to change how gag and red grouper are managed in Gulf of Mexico state waters. Changes for red grouper will take effect December 23 in Gulf of Mexico state waters (excluding Monroe County) and  will include increasing the recreational bag limit from two to four fish.

Commissioners also voted to continue the current gag grouper closure in Gulf of Mexico state waters (excluding Monroe County ) into 2012. The closure was set to expire at the end of 2011. 

The FWC believes applying the same recreational open and closed harvest season for gag grouper in Gulf state waters as in federal offshore waters would maximize fishing opportunities for anglers and charter boat operators along Florida's Gulf coast.

Federal mangers are currently working on a plan to further protect gag grouper in the Gulf. The FWC will revisit state gag grouper management efforts in February 2012, once federal rules are solidified. 

To learn more click HERE.

GAG GROUPER SEASON HAS CLOSED IN GULF OF MEXICO STATE WATERS

As indicated in the foregoing Release, the 2011 open recreational harvest season for gag grouper in Gulf of Mexico state waters (excluding Monroe county) has closed. This fall harvest season opened  September 16.

At the April 2011 meeting of FWC, commissioners voted to close the season in Gulf state waters for the rest of the year with the exception of the fall harvest season in an effort to become consistent with similar pending federal management efforts. As a result of that meeting, gag grouper closed in Gulf state waters on June 1. In state and federal Atlantic waters (including Monroe County), the recreational season is open through Jan. 1, 2012.

Federal fisheries managers are working to put new management guidelines in place to rebuild the population of gag grouper. Temporary changes in 2011 federal management efforts also included a year-long gag grouper recreational harvest closure in Gulf of Mexico federal waters (beyond nine nautical miles from shore) with the exception of the Sept. 16 through Nov. 15 open season.

RECREATIONAL, COMMERCIAL FISHERMEN TO REAP BENEFIT FROM SPOTTED SEATROUT MANAGEMENT

Thanks to successful spotted seatrout management, the FWC voted Nov. 16 to increase both commercial and recreational fishing opportunities for the popular fish.

Changes take effect Feb. 1 and include:

 Removing regional recreational season closures;
 raising the recreational bag limit in northeast Florida;
 changing commercial seasons based on region;
 allowing spotted seatrout to be sold 30 days after the close of the regional commercial season;
 changing the commercial vessel limit to 150 when there are two commercially licensed fishermen aboard and,
 redefining areas where spotted seatrout are managed by splitting the state into four management zones instead of three.

For specifics and to learn more, click HERE.

FWC REQUESTS PUBLIC INPUT ON PROPOSED MANATEE PROTECTION ZONES IN FLAGLER COUNTY

A proposal for manatee protection zones on portions of the ICW in Flagler County is ready for public input, the FWC announced on Nov. 17.

The public can view the proposed rule at MyFWC.com/Manatee, "rulemaking." At least one public hearing will be held in Flagler County and notice of the proposed rule will be published.

FWC PROVIDES UPDATE ON ANCHORING / MOORING PILOT PROGRAM

As announced in What's Happening (page 4 of the current FCD) five areas of Florida are participating in the anchoring / mooring pilot program; the goal of which is to explore potential options for regulating the anchoring or mooring of non-live-aboard vessels outside the boundaries of public mooring fields. Among other things, this should help promote public access to Florida's waters, enhance navigational safety and protect the marine environment.

The FWC's role is to provide consultation and technical assistance on the issues. For more information on the pilot program, visit MyFWC.com/Boating or call 850-488-5600.

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