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Regulatory Highlights from 2013

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During 2013, the FWC Commission approved several changes to recreational saltwater regulations. This summary was included to remind anglers about the recent changes. For more information, please visit MyFWC.com.

Lionfish – FWC established rules to facilitate the removal of invasive lionfish by recreational divers. A recreational license is no longer required to harvest lionfish by hand-held net, pole spear, Hawaiian sling or other spearing devices that are designed and marketed for lionfish control. The rule also eliminated the default recreational bag limit when harvesting lionfish.

Spearfishing – Spearfishing in state waters off Collier County is no longer prohibited. Collier County requested the action in an effort to facilitate lionfish control in the region and stimulate the local economy by increasing recreational and commercial diving.

Gray Triggerfish – FWC also took action to protect gray triggerfish in the Gulf of Mexico by establishing a two fish per day recreational bag limit and a two month (June and July) closed season during peak spawning. These changes are consistent with new regulations in federal waters of the Gulf.

Tarpon – New regulations were established to further conserve the tarpon population. New rules specify that a tarpon harvest tag can only be used when pursuing an IGFA record and limits anglers to a single tarpon tag per year. Additional revisions prevent the use of multiple-point hooks while fishing for tarpon with natural baits; establish a more inclusive definition of “snagging;” and clarify that tarpon can be temporarily possessed without a harvest tag for photography, measurement or scientific sampling with the stipulation that tarpon more than 40 inches in length must remain in the water at all times.

Boca Grande Pass – The FWC also approved rules to prohibit fishing for any species in Boca Grande Pass with bottom weighted jigs.

Gulf Snook – Snook resumed its regular open/closed season schedule in the Gulf of Mexico, Everglades National Park and all waters off Monroe County. Harvest of snook closed in January 2010 after cold weather negatively impacted their population. Snook stocks in the Gulf are currently meeting management goals and the existing size limits, bag limits and closed seasons will allow the snook stock in the Gulf to continue to recover. Anglers are reminded that using good conservation practices when fishing for Gulf snook will help this stock recover even faster.

Gulf Shallow Water Groupers – The FWC eliminated the Feb. 1 – March 31 grouper closure in state waters of the Gulf of Mexico (excluding Monroe County) which included red grouper, black grouper, yellowfin grouper, yellowmouth grouper, rock hind, red hind and scamp. These species of grouper are now open in state waters of the Gulf (excluding Monroe County) on a year-round basis. NOAA Fisheries Service also eliminated the two month closure of shallow water groupers shoreward of the 20-fathom line in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Venting Tool – The FWC Commission eliminated the requirement to possess and use venting tools when fishing for reef fish in the Gulf of Mexico. The venting tool requirement has also been eliminated in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Other release methods and tools can now be used when releasing fish suffering from barotrauma.

Regulations in red are new this year.

Purple text indicates an important note.

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