Lionfish Challenge concluded Sept 30
The invasive lionfish took a major hit this summer with a total of 16,609 lionfish removed from Florida waters during the 4.5-month Lionfish Challenge.
Lionfish are a non-native species that were first noted in Florida waters in the mid-80s and have since spread up the Atlantic coast and across the Gulf of Mexico. There is no mechanism for keeping lionfish populations under control except for human removal.
The competition began on Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day, the first Saturday after Mother’s Day (May 14, 2016). A total of 95 people participated in the challenge from across the state and the southeastern United States. Volusia County resident David Garrett took the most lionfish with a total of 3,324 (click on photo to enlarge).
For more information on the Lionfish Challenge and related programs, click here.
Stone crab claw season opened Oct 15 in state and federal waters
Florida’s recreational and commercial stone crab claw harvest season opens Oct 15 in state and federal waters. To ensure this valuable resource is available for generations to come, take care when removing crab claws and follow all protective management guidelines for stone crab harvest.
To be harvested, stone crab claws must be at least 2¾ inches in length when measured from the elbow to the tip of the lower immovable portion of the claw (see illustration). Claws may not be taken from egg-bearing stone crabs. Egg-bearing females are identifiable by the orange or brown egg mass, also known as a “sponge,” which is visible on the underside of the crab when it is picked up or turned over.
Recreational harvesters can use up to five stone crab traps per person. Stone crabs may not be harvested with any device that can puncture, crush or injure a crab’s body. Examples of devices that can cause this kind of damage include spears and hooks. Recreational and commercial traps may be baited and placed in the water 10 days prior to the opening of the season, but may not be pulled from the water for harvest purposes until Oct 15. Traps that are not being fished should be removed from the water to avoid ghost fishing, a process in which marine species get caught in the trap for extended periods of time and are not harvested.
Harvesters are encouraged to take only one claw, even if both claws are of legal size, so that the released crab will be better able to defend itself from predators. A crab that is returned to the water with one claw intact will be able to obtain more food in a shorter amount of time and therefore regrow its claw faster. There is a recreational daily bag limit of 1 gallon of claws per person or 2 gallons per vessel, whichever is less.
The season is open Oct 15, 2016, closing May 16, 2017. Stone crab regulations are the same in state and federal waters.
For more information on stone crabs, click here.
FWC’s Saltwater Angler Recognition Programs
The Saltwater Grand Slams Program and two new Saltwater Angler Recognition Programs – the Saltwater Fish Life List and the Saltwater Reel Big Fish – encourage anglers to target a diversity of species, thereby decreasing fishing pressure on any given species as well as expanding fishing experiences for seasoned anglers, cultivating an interest in saltwater fishing and strengthening marine fisheries conservation ethics.
Saltwater Fish Life List
Can you catch them all? Similar to a birding life list, this program allows anglers to track their progress at catching 71 different species of saltwater fish. Anglers who catch at least 10 different Life List species can join the Saltwater Fish Life List Club and receive a certificate of accomplishment, a colorful shirt and be eligible for additional prizes. There are four prize tiers total (10, 30, 50 and 71 fish clubs). Print your Saltwater Fish Life List or request to receive one by mail today at CatchaFloridaMemory.com.
Saltwater Reel Big Fish
Don’t let that whopper of a fish turn into just a whopper of a story. Celebrate your memorable-sized catches by participating in the Saltwater Reel Big Fish program. This program includes 30 different species in both adult and youth (under 16 years old) categories. Successful participants will receive a certificate of accomplishment and a colorful shirt in recognition of their achievement. Anglers who catch 5, 10, 15 or all 30 Saltwater Reel Big Fish species can also gain recognition and the chance to win prizes by joining the Saltwater Reel Big Fish Club.
Saltwater Grand Slams
The FWC has nine different Saltwater Grand Slams that award anglers for catching three different specified fish species within a 24-hour period, and the categories may surprise and challenge you. From the Inshore Grand Slam consisting of red drum, spotted seatrout and flounder, to the Florida Grand Slam of permit, tarpon and bonefish, these challenges will make you work to increase your fishing skills. The program even includes a Small Fry Grand Slam for anglers 15 and under who catch a pinfish, catfish and grunt. Successful anglers will receive a certificate of accomplishment and a colorful shirt showing the fish from their Grand Slam. There are also three prize tiers that award anglers who catch three, six or all eligible Grand Slams.
For more information on the Saltwater Angler Recognition Programs, click here.
FWC’s monthly newsletter for October, Fishing in the Know, is available for viewing
The October 2016 issue of the Fishing in the Know
newsletter from FWC is available now. To view and/or download a copy of the newsletter, click here
An Angler’s Guide to Florida’s Marine Resources, the new edition of Fishing Lines is now available
This guide was developed by FWC’s Division of Marine Fisheries Management Outreach and Education Program as an educational tool to provide the public with information about Florida’s marine resources.
This publication includes articles about marine angling, important habitats, saltwater fishes and state efforts to enhance marine resources. Information is also included about fisheries management in Florida, the importance of catch and release, where money comes from and where it goes and that’s just the first half of the guide.
The second half of Fishing Lines has a field guide to help anglers and the public identify some of the many fish species that live in Florida’s marine and estuarine waters. Illustrations and descriptions for 145 species are included in the Identification Section.
Note: The guide is an excellent source of fishing-related information and is recommended reading for anyone interested in Florida’s marine resources.
To download a copy of the guide, click here.
Discarded monofilament line injures and kills wildlife
Fishing is an important part of the Florida lifestyle as well as its economy. To ensure that this activity doesn’t lead to problems for birds and other wildlife, the FWC wants anglers to know about the potential hazards and sure-fire solutions. FWC warns that monofilament fishing line and fishing hooks can snag and entangle birds, sea turtles and manatees, leading to injury and even death.
For more information on the statewide Monofilament Recovery & Recycling Program, click here.