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Florida Angler Ethics

Brought to you by:

Bob Wattendorf
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

If you really want to know why fishing is fun, all you have to do is take children out and watch the stream of emotions that light up their faces as they learn to bait a hook, cast and finally hook-up and retrieve a fish. The joy of learning, the reconnection with nature and our heritage, and the fulfillment of knowing they can catch their own – just like the pioneers – contribute to those sensational smiles.

These are the same reasons, social scientists discover time and again, that fishing remains such a popular recreational activity. Herbert Hoover said, “Fishing is much more than fish. It is the great occasion when we may return to the fine simplicity of our forefathers.”

Dozens of studies have consistently verified that involvement with family members and friends, escaping the daily routine, relaxation, being outdoors close to nature, and the sport and challenge of fishing are the top five reasons for fishing. These motives remain at the top of the list regardless of the group studied.

Conservation agencies, guides, facility planners, anglers and boaters play roles in making fishing more fun and satisfying for everyone on the water. They share an abiding love for aquatic resources and the conservation stewardship ethic that help keep our natural resources pristine.

This checklist of ethical angling practices provides a starting point to make fishing more enjoyable, safe and sustainable for everyone, including future generations.

An Ethical Angler:

  • Promotes, through example and mentoring, an ethical use of aquatic resources.
  • Values and respects the aquatic environment and all living things. Treats other anglers, boaters and property owners with courtesy and respect, including removing boat trailers promptly from active launching areas, watching wakes around other boaters, and providing adequate fishing space to anglers already on the fishing spot.
  • Avoids spilling and never dumps pollutants, such as gas or oil. Appropriately disposes of trash, including worn lines, leaders and hooks. Recycles whenever possible and keeps fishing sites litter-free.
  • Purchases required fishing licenses and permits. (If you are exempt, you may still purchase a license to contribute directly to conservation and bring in matching federal funds. See
  • Learns and obeys angling and boating regulations and can identify fish to adhere to the rules.
  • Keeps no more fish than needed for consumption, and never wastefully discards fish, while complying with the law. Carefully handles and releases alive all fish that are unwanted or illegal to keep. Uses tackle and techniques that minimize harm to fish when catch-and-release angling.
  • Takes precautionary measures to prevent spread of exotic plants and animals and does not use diseased or nonnative baits.
  • Participates in conservation efforts such as river cleanups, vegetation transplanting, tagging studies and creel surveys.
  • Practices safe angling and boating by following the laws and using common-sense practices to prevent injury to himself, others or property.
  • Protects the environment from damage caused by careless boat operation, including prop-scouring vegetation, wake damage to shorelines, power-loading problems at ramps, anchoring on reefs and striking animals such as manatees or sturgeons.
  • Conserves energy and water on a daily basis, knowing how it affects local fish and wildlife.
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Conservation Partner Advertisements: The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission allows appropriate advertising in its annual regulation guides in print and online, in order to defray or eliminate expenses to the state, and support enhanced communications with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Constituents. Through a unique partnership with J.F.Griffin Publishing, LLC &, ‘Conservation Partners’ have been established that pay for advertising in support of the regulations both in print and online. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission neither endorses products or services listed or claims made; nor accepts any liability arising from the use of products or services listed. Advertisers interested in the Conservation Partners program should contact J.F.Griffin/ directly at 413-884-1001,
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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