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Extended Protection for Gulf Coast Snook

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FWC reminds anglers that the recreational harvest season for snook in Florida’s Atlantic waters will reopen September 1, 2011. Florida’s Gulf of Mexico waters will remain catch and release through August 31, 2012.

Prolonged cold weather during the winter of 2009–2010 adversely impacted Florida’s snook population. Protective measures were taken by extending the closed-harvest periods for parts of 2010 and 2011. At the June 2011 Commission Meeting, Commissioners received the latest staff report with information on the status of the snook population. Atlantic coast snook were less severely impacted by the cold weather than Gulf coast snook. Based on this information, the Commission agreed to reopen the snook harvest season this fall in Atlantic waters.

Snook has been strictly regulated in Florida for more than 50 years. Current regulations include summer and winter closed harvest seasons, a one-fish bag limit during open seasons, restrictive slot-size limits, and a prohibition on the sale of snook. A snook permit is required to harvest snook. Revenue generated from the sale of this permit is used exclusively for programs to benefit the snook population. Even though recreational harvest is closed in Gulf of Mexico waters, you may still purchase a snook permit to support these programs. If you would like information on the Gulf Coast voluntary snook permit refund and to learn about these programs, please visit MyFWC.com/license.

The Atlantic stock of snook in Florida’s Atlantic coastal and inland waters, including Lake Okeechobee and the Kissimmee River, will return to the regular season opening September 1, 2011. The regular daily bag limit of one snook per recreational angler will apply, as will the 28 to 32-inch total length slot limit. A snook permit is required to harvest snook.

The current prohibition of recreational harvest of snook in all of Florida’s Gulf of Mexico waters, including Everglades National Park and state and federal waters of Monroe County, will remain in effect until August 31, 2012. This extended closure will allow the Gulf snook population additional time to rebound. Anglers may still catch and release snook during harvest closures. Remember to handle and release these fish carefully to help ensure their survival upon release. More information is available at MyFWC.com/fishing.

In the Photo: Katie Purcell and Jacob Fojtik

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