FWC’s Florida Saltwater Recreational Fishing Regulations for 2017
Know or keep a copy of the current regulations with you. Florida Saltwater Recreational Fishing Regulations publications are issued in January and July each calendar year. Pick up a copy today at most tackle supply stores or print them online at: MyFWC.com/Fishing.
To download a chart of the saltwater recreational fishing regulations, click here.
To download a calendar with up-to-date closures and regulations of species in the South Atlantic, click here.
Grouper fishing reopened May 1 in Atlantic and Monroe County waters
Anglers targeting grouper in Florida state and federal waters of the Atlantic, including state waters off Monroe County, were able to take home some of their catch starting May 1, when the season for several species reopened to recreational and commercial harvest. The following species are available to harvest: gag, black, red, yellowmouth and yellowfin grouper; scamp, red hind, rock hind, coney and graysby.
The harvest of these grouper species will remain open until January 1, 2018. These species are closed annually from January 1 through April 30 each year as a measure to ensure the long-term sustainability of Atlantic grouper species. State waters in the Atlantic are from shore to 3 nautical miles out.
Recreational anglers targeting these species may not take more than three groupers per person, per day. Within this three-fish limit, anglers may possess only one gag or black grouper (not both).
Dehooking tools must be aboard commercial and recreational vessels for use as needed to remove hooks from reef fish, including Atlantic grouper.
For more information, click here.
Spiny lobster season closed April 1
The spiny lobster recreational and commercial season closed to harvest in state and federal waters starting April 1 and will reopen August 6. The two-day recreational sport season is the last consecutive Wednesday and Thursday of July, which is July 26 and 27 this year. For more information, click here.
Snook to close in Atlantic state and federal waters June 1
Snook will close to harvest June 1 in Atlantic state, federal and inland waters, including Lake Okeechobee and the Kissimmee River. Seasonal harvest closures conserve Florida’s valuable snook populations and help sustain and improve the fishery for the future. The recreational harvest of snook will reopen in Atlantic waters September 1.
Snook are one of the many reasons Florida is the Fishing Capital of the World. While snook may be caught and released during the closed season, the FWC encourages anglers to handle their catch carefully to help the fish survive upon release. Proper handling methods can help ensure the species’ abundance for anglers today and generations to come. To learn more about fish handling, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater Fishing,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Fish Handling.”
2017 Lionfish Challenge
FWC compiled a report reviewing the successes and lessons learned from the 2016 lionfish removal incentive programs and proposing the implementation of a new and exciting statewide 2017 Lionfish Challenge.
More than 164,000 lionfish were removed from Florida waters between May and December 2016 thanks to members of the public who participated in commercial harvest, recreational incentive programs and fishing tournaments.
The newly proposed four-month statewide program for 2017 will include prizes and reward tiers and, for the first time, separate categories for recreational and commercial harvesters in an effort to better celebrate the lionfish removal contributions of both groups. The winners from these categories will be crowned the Lionfish King/Queen and Commercial Champion, respectively, along with a variety of incentives and rewards provided to participants across the duration of the Challenge.
The Challenge begins on Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day, the first Saturday after Mother’s Day (May 20, 2017), and continues through Labor Day, September 4. Participants that remove at least 25 lionfish recreationally or 25 pounds commercially (with a saltwater products license) will gain entry into the program and be rewarded with the opportunity to take an additional spiny lobster each day during the two-day sport season (July 26-27, 2017), as well as receive a newly updated 2017 commemorative coin and T-shirt.
The FWC hopes to see the public rally behind the effort and remove at least 50,000 lionfish statewide in 2017-2018 through the Lionfish Challenge and other removal activities.
Program details and information on how to participate will be posted on MyFWC.com/Lionfish.
Share your marine fisheries comments on FWC’s new saltwater commenting webpage
FWC’s Division of Marine Fisheries Management wants to hear from you. In an effort to keep stakeholders informed and to gather public input on upcoming issues, a new webpage has been created: MyFWC.com/SaltwaterComments.
Currently, staff are collecting comments on the statewide management of cobia, sheepshead and tripletail, as well as goliath grouper, flounder, spotted seatrout, trap fisheries and shrimp. To comment, fill out the form at the bottom of the commenting page. Comments can also be emailed to Marine@MyFWC.com or submitted over the phone at 850-487-0554.
FWC’s column, Gone Coastal: Knowing how to catch a giant tarpon is half the battle
Gone Coastal is one of many ways that FWC is helping recreational anglers understand complex saltwater regulations and learn more about saltwater fishing opportunities and issues in Florida. FWC is also available to answer questions by phone or email anytime, and welcomes the opportunity to share information through in-person presentations with recreational or commercial fishing organizations. To contact the FWC’s Regulatory Outreach subsection, call 850-487-0554 or email Saltwater@MyFWC.com.
In addition to informative articles, FWC posts videos on a variety of subjects on its YouTube channel, FWC Saltwater Fishing. You can also view these videos by going to MyFWC.com/SaltwaterFishing. Check out new updates weekly on various subjects from how-to videos to artificial reef deployments.
For more information on this quarter’s column, 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.
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.