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Commissioners’ Message

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FWC plans for ensuring Florida is the undisputed
bass fishing capital of the world


The seven-member Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is appointed to staggered terms by the Governor and meets five times a year to hear staff reports, consider rule proposals, and conduct other Commission business. At these meetings we encourage public input, as well as listening to scientific and other factual reports provided by FWC staff. Under Florida’s Constitution, we enact rules and regulations regarding the state’s fish and wildlife resources and help ensure staff achieves their mission of managing fish and wildlife resources for their long-term well-being and the benefit of people.

In June of 2011, after more than a year of scientific review and citizen input, we approved the Florida Black Bass Management Plan. The plan recognizes that black bass (Florida largemouth, shoal, spotted and Suwannee basses) are tremendous natural resources enhancing the quality of life for citizens and tourists. In 2006, anglers enjoyed more than 14 million days fishing for this premier sport fish in Florida. Moreover, they generated approximately $1.25 billion in economic impact for Florida communities and supported approximately 12,000 jobs. (Note: Over all, Florida freshwater fishing accounts for $2.6 billion in economic impact and 24,800 jobs).

Trophy Florida largemouth bass are a huge draw to resident anglers, tourists from around the globe and tournaments, while fisheries with high catch rates of quality bass, and fisheries with relatively rare shoal, spotted and Suwannee basses have an appeal of their own. Properly managing black bass fisheries will provide profound ecological, economic and sociological benefits for Floridians.

Numerous pressures challenge fisheries managers, including human population growth and development, declining water quality and current water management challenges resulting from multiple uses of our waters. In response, action steps identified in the new Black Bass Management Plan were divided into four sections: New Opportunities, Habitat Management, Fish Management and People Management. Among the innovative approaches promoted in the plan is a new high-profile TrophyCatch angler recognition program to document trophy catches by rewarding anglers for releasing and reporting bass weighing more than 8 pounds, including a special hall-of-fame category for bass greater than 13 pounds. Renewed aquatic habitat enhancement efforts, including modified aquatic plant management approaches, will enhance production of these fish.

You can learn more not only about mandatory freshwater fishing regulations in this publication but also about our management philosophies, funding for conservation (largely through fishing license sales and grants from the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration program), angler recognition programs and fishing tips.

Florida already is the “Fishing Capital of the World.” Now, we look forward to working with stakeholders to document that Florida is the undisputed “Bass Fishing Capital of the World.”

Regulations in red are new this year.

Purple text indicates an important note.

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This is not the full law. Consult the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for further details. All persons are reminded that the statutes, code and regulations are the legal authorities.
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