Stone crab season closes May 16
The recreational harvest of stone crab claws in Florida closes on Monday, May 16, with the last day of harvest on Sunday, May 15. Stone crab season will reopen on Oct 15. This five-month closure occurs each year during the peak spawning season to help conserve and sustain Florida’s valuable stone crab resource.
FWC’s monthly newsletter for May, Fishing in the Know, is available for viewing
The May 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
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Lionfish Derby Events and Statewide Removal Program
For more information and details on the Derby Events, read the April newsletter or click here.
Aside from the state’s Derby Events, FWC’s newest way of encouraging divers to target these spiny invaders is the lionfish state records program. For more information on the lionfish state records program, click here.
To qualify in the statewide program, participants must remove 50 or more lionfish between May 14 and Sept 30. Among other rewards, qualified participants will have an opportunity to take an additional spiny lobster per day during the 2016 mini-season (July 27-28). For more information on the lionfish state records program, click here.
New statewide red drum assessment
FWC has recently completed a new red drum stock assessment and is seeking input from anglers about their experiences with the red drum fishery. FWC wants to know how anglers think the fishery is doing and what anglers think of the current bag limits.
Click here to learn more about red drum and take a short survey.
Share your experiences and opinions, see what other anglers in Florida think, and find out where FWC staff will be next by visiting FWC’s Facebook page.
STATE CLOSURES and OPENINGS
The recreational harvest of shallow water grouper species opens in Atlantic state and federal waters, including Monroe County, May 1, 2016
The season will remain open until Jan 1, 2017. Grouper species that may be harvested are gag, red, black, yellowfin grouper, yellowmouth grouper, scamp, rock hind, red hind, graysby and coney.
Recreational anglers targeting these species may not take more than three grouper 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 recreational vessels for use as needed to remove hooks from reef fish, including Atlantic grouper.
Spiny lobster season closed April 1
The recreational season for spiny lobster closed to harvest in state and federal waters on April 1 and reopens Aug. 6. The two-day recreational sport season for 2016 is the last consecutive Wednesday and Thursday of July, which is July 27 and 28 this year.
FWC approves barracuda conservation measures for south Florida
FWC approved new recreational and commercial bag limits for barracuda for waters off south Florida. The changes will apply in state and federal waters off Collier, Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Martin counties only, and will include a:
- Recreational and commercial daily bag limit of two fish per person and
- Recreational and commercial daily vessel limit of six fish per vessel.
These new limits went into effect Nov 1, 2015.
Stakeholders in southeast Florida and the Florida Keys have voiced concerns about declining barracuda numbers observed when fishing and diving. FWC is responding to these concerns by creating bag limits to prevent further declines and conserve barracuda in the region. FWC staff gathered public input from concerned stakeholders at workshops conducted in Feb. The goal of the workshops was to determine if there is a need for any additional management changes for barracuda, including, but not limited to, a possible size limit.
Click here for more information.
Gray triggerfish size limit changes in Atlantic state waters effective Nov 21, 2015
At its Nov 18 meeting in Panama City Beach, FWC approved changes to the gray triggerfish size and bag limits in Atlantic state waters.
The approvals include:
- In Atlantic state waters – changing the recreational minimum size limit from 14 to 12 inches fork length and creating a 10-fish recreational bag limit
- Statewide – changing the sale and import size limit from 14 to 12 inches fork length
These changes make Atlantic state water regulations inconsistent with the minimum size requirement (14″) for triggerfish in Atlantic federal waters. These changes will go into effect on Saturday, Nov 21.
Stakeholders expressed that a smaller size limit is more appropriate because gray triggerfish are, on average, smaller in size in state waters off the Atlantic coast of south Florida than they are in other federally managed regions along the Atlantic. FWC realized public input from all areas affected by the size limit change was not received by federal fishery managers.
For more information on the changes, click here.
New state permit allows mackerel tournaments to donate catch to benefit charity
With just a no-cost permit, mackerel tournament directors can donate tournament-caught king and Spanish mackerel to a licensed wholesale dealer in exchange for a donation to the charity of the tournament’s choice. While this activity has traditionally occurred at mackerel tournaments in Florida, recent federal regulation changes prohibited the activity unless a state permit was issued.
In addition to helping tournaments raise funds for charity, this permit will help minimize waste of tournament-caught king and Spanish mackerel that otherwise may not have been eaten. FWC approved the creation of this permit at its June 2015 meeting in Sarasota.
Donated fish can be caught in state or federal waters and would have to be handled and iced in accordance with seafood safety standards. Wholesale dealers must be onsite during the weigh-in to obtain the tournament-caught fish. The fish would also have to be identified as tournament catch on commercial trip tickets.
This permit will ensure that tournament-caught fish are not counted toward both the recreational and commercial fishing quotas. Although fish are recreationally caught, they enter the commercial market once donated to a wholesale dealer. Preventing these fish from being double-counted in both the recreational and commercial fishing quotas ensures more accurate landings data and prevents possible negative impacts to the commercial fishery, such as early season closures.
For more information or to apply for a permit, 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.
Nine New Saltwater Grand Slams for Florida
FWC has introduced nine new Saltwater Grand Slams. Grand Slams challenge anglers to catch three specific fish species in a 24-hour period.
The new Grand Slams include:
- Inshore Grand Slam: red drum, spotted seatrout, flounder
- Family Slam: any three fish in the same family (example: red drum, black drum and spotted seatrout)
- Blue Water Slam: dolphin, sailfish, wahoo
- Florida Grand Slam: permit, tarpon, bonefish
- Shoreline Slam: sheepshead, whiting, Florida pompano
- Reefs and Rubble Slam: black sea bass, gag, gray triggerfish
- Nearshore Slam: cobia, tripletail, king mackerel
- Bay and Estuary Slam: gray (mangrove) snapper, snook, Spanish mackerel
- Small Fry Slam (for children 15 and under): pinfish, grunt, catfish
Click here to view more information.