Rule set for this year’s Gulf red snapper recreational season
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved a rule on April 30 that makes the recreational harvest season for red snapper in Gulf of Mexico state waters consistent with the recently announced season in Gulf federal waters.
Florida state waters in the Gulf extend out to nine nautical miles from shore, and federal waters extend beyond that line.
This year’s recreational harvest season for red snapper in Gulf state waters will be open from June 1 through July 23. This is 22 days shorter than last year’s season, because federal fisheries managers predict that if the season length remained the same as last year, the allowable harvest for red snapper would be exceeded due to the high level of recreational fishing effort in the Gulf.
Gulf red snapper stocks are rebuilding but are still considered to be undergoing overfishing, which means that red snapper are being taken at a rate greater than established management goals for this fishery.
Shortening the fishing season in Gulf state waters this year will help to avoid a harvest overrun and continue to rebuild red snapper populations so that longer red snapper fishing seasons will be possible in the future.
More information regarding red snapper fishing regulations is available online at www.MyFWC.com/Rules; click on “Fishing – Saltwater.”
Also last week, the FWC approved rule amendments to provide more protection for bonefish, a premier saltwater game fish in Florida.
“These rules bolster our management measures to preserve bonefish so that Florida anglers and visitors can continue to enjoy fishing for this terrific marine game fish,” said FWC Chairman Rodney Barreto.
The new rules include all bonefish species in the FWC’s bonefish management rules to help ensure that all bonefish in Florida waters are protected, extend FWC bonefish regulations into adjacent federal waters to aid enforcement and enhance bonefish protection, and require that bonefish be landed in whole condition to help officers in the field identify bonefish and aid in enforcement of bag and size limits.
It has been illegal to commercially harvest and sell bonefish in Florida since 1988, and a daily recreational bag limit of one bonefish 18 inches or greater in fork length applies. Bonefish may be taken by hook and line only.
The new bonefish rules take effect on July 1, and the FWC will continue to work with stakeholders to further examine the concept of making bonefish a catch-and-release fishery only.
Additional information about bonefish is available online at www.MyFWC.com/Fishing.