Snook: Today, Tomorrow and Beyond
Snook like hook or snook like newk, no matter how you pronounce it, it’s iconic. It’s beloved. It is one of Florida’s favorite recreational fish.
Earlier this year, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) began a conversation about snook when they hosted Snook Symposium VI in Orlando. The day-long discussion was open to the public and focused on snook management and research, including opportunities for improving snook management and the results of the 2015 stock assessment (the first assessment to fully evaluate the impacts of the 2010 cold kill).
The symposium was a success not only in terms of attendance and interest (more than 150 people attended the meeting, and 350 registered) but in the productive conversations that took place.
While ideas about how to manage snook in the future varied, it was clear that some concepts rose to the top for attendees. Many would like to see more attention paid to habitat conservation, maintaining the current higher than average management goal for snook populations, and managing snook for abundance.
Innovative ideas for future management were also explored such as managing snook by estuary.
So what is next? After the meeting, all those who registered were asked to fill out a follow up survey. From this, we plan to continue the conversation by pulling together a series of small groups based on user group (for example, fishing guides from South Florida, tourist industry leaders or recreational anglers). These groups will help fisheries managers better understand what is important to various stakeholder groups when it comes to the snook fishery.
These small group meetings will be followed by larger open to the public workshop to gather feedback on the recommendations developed.
The stock assessment was also recently finalized. And though several hundred thousand snook died statewide as a result of the cold kill, the assessment shows that catch rates for the snook populations have returned to pre-cold event levels and the populations on both coasts, while still recovering, are meeting management goals. The quick recovery demonstrates that FWC’s management efforts to date have been successful in building population resilience.
Let’s keep the conversation going so we can decide together how to manage this iconic fishery. Send your thoughts or questions to Marine@MyFWC.com. Keep up with the latest on snook management at MyFWC.com/Fishing by clicking on “Saltwater,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Snook.” For more information about snook research, go to MyFWC.com/Research, select “Saltwater” then “Saltwater Fish” and then click on “Snook.”
Director, Marine Fisheries Management,
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Regulations in red are new this year.
Purple text indicates an important note.