homepage logo

Without public input, FWC will lift moratorium on three species


At a meeting last week on Pine Island, the Florida Fish and WildlifeConservation Commission commissioners expressed their intent to move forward with removing the restrictions on keeping sea trout, redfish and snook. If they act as promised, this means that beginning May 31, trout and redfish may be kept; snook may be kept beginning in September, when their regular season opens.

The Sanibel FlyFishers’ Board of Directors is opposed to the reopening of “catch and keep” for these three key gamefish until the science proves they have fully recovered from the effects of the 2018 red tide event. Most local guides support continuation of the moratorium for at least another year.

The best way to express our opposition to this proposed action is to flood the commissioners with comments prior to the FWC commission meeting on Feb. 25-26.

If you support the extension of this closure, please take a minute and send a short note to the FWC commissioners. Every comment helps.

Please encourage everyone you know to support continuing the moratorium on sea trout, redfish and snook. Urge them to contact the FWC commissioners.

Some suggested language:

Dear Commissioner,

I understand the FWC will be considering Executive Order EO-20-5 in the near future. I would like to submit comments for your consideration regarding the extended closure on redfish, snook and sea trout.

Redfish: The redfish population had been gradually dropping in this entire area for at least the 15 years prior to the 2018 red tide event. Most of this reduction has been directly related to the loss of native sea grass and other habitat they need for food. Reduced habitat has been shown to equate to reduced species enrichment and reduced populations of redfish throughout their range. During the closure period, redfish numbers have been increasing it are still below pre-red tide levels. We should protect redfish for at least one more year.

Snook: The snook population was hit extremely hard by the red tide event. We lost a very big percentage of breeding snook during the months of July and August 2018 from red tide. The number of pre-breeding age and breeding age snook are still noticeably low. Opening a season which targets breeding snook (28-33 inches) will further reduce our breeding stock. The number of snook is still lower than pre-red tide levels. We should keep the season closed for another year or two.

Spotted sea trout: Trout appear to have returned to pre-red tide populations. It must be noted however, that these numbers are still below populations three to five years, pre-red tide for spotted sea trout. I feel that sea trout numbers would allow harvest. However, with continued closure of redfish and snook I feel an open season would extra pressure on sea trout.

Thank you for the opportunity to provide input to an issue I feel is extremely important for the future of fisheries in this area. If I can answer any questions, please feel free to contact me at any time.

FWC contact info for all commissioners:


FWC contact info for individual commissioners:







The Sanibel FlyFishers is the fly fishing club of Sanibel. For more information, contact sanibelff@gmail.com or P.O. Box 595, Sanibel, FL 33957. Or visit on Facebook: SanibelFlyFishers, Instagram: Sanibelff, Twitter @Sanibelff or YouTube: www.bit.ly/Sanibelff_YTube.