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Marine Life Regulations

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Requirements for Recreational Marine Life Harvest:

  • Recreational saltwater fishing license
  • Organisms must be landed and kept alive
  • A continuously circulating live well, aeration, or oxygenation system of adequate size to maintain these organisms in a healthy condition
  • Allowable Gear: hand held net, drop net, rod, barrier net, slurp gun (use of quinaldine is prohibited)*
  • Bag Limit: 20 organisms per person per day; only 5 of any one species allowed within the 20-organism bag limit
  • Possession Limit: 2-day possession limit, 40 total organisms, no more than 10 of any one species allowed
  • Allowable substrate: see species specifications in table
  • Closed areas: Some closed areas exist**
  • Sale of recreationally caught marine life organisms is prohibited

* Some organisms have additional gear limitations, see chart.

** Various closed areas exist. See regulations for Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, Everglades National Park, Biscayne National Park, and Florida’s State Parks before collecting in these areas.

Additional rules apply to the collection of shells containing live organisms in Lee or Manatee counties.

See for FAQs about marine life harvest and information about collecting shells with live organisms.

Marine Life — Fish



Size Limits
(total length unless otherwise noted)


No more than 5 per person per day in any combination

Gray, French Angelfish: 1½–8" slot limit

Blue, Queen Angelfish: 1¾–8" slot limit

Rock Beauty: 2–5" slot limit


1–4" slot limit


Except Gray
and Ocean


Maximum size limit: 2"


reef fish2 and
Longtail Bass


Maximum size limit: 4"


Maximum size limit: 12"


Minimum size limit: 1½"


Includes Sharpnose Pufferfish, Striped Burrfish, Spotted Burrfish, Balloonfish, Porcupinefish

Tangs and

Maximum size limit (fork length): 9"


Except Hogfish

Spanish Hogfish: 2–8" slot limit

Cuban Hogfish: 3–8" slot limit

Other Marine Life fish include1: Basslets, Batfish, Blackbar Soldierfish, Blennies, Brotulas (Black and Key), Cardinalfish, Clingfish, Cornetfish, Damselfish, Eels (Moray and Snake), Frogfish, Hawkfish, High-hat/Jackknife-fish/Spotted Drum/Cubbyu, Pipefish, Reef Croakers, Seahorses, Sleepers, Yellow Stingray, Sweepers, Toadfish, Trumpetfish, and Trunkfish/Cowfish.

Marine Life — Invertebrates




Corallimorphs and Zoanthids: No more than 5 polyps of each may be landed per person per day, must be harvested with a flexible blade no wider than 2". Corallimorphs must be harvested as single polyps only.

Conch, Queen

Harvest prohibited

Corals, Hard (Stony)

Harvest prohibited

Corals, Soft (Octocorals)

No more than 6 octocoral colonies per person per day in any combination; harvest of attached substrate within 1" of base is permitted; harvest closes in response to federal octocoral closures

Crab, Hermit

Except Land Hermit Crabs

Crab, Horseshoe

Harvest prohibited

Live Rock

Harvest prohibited


Except Common Octopus

Sea Fans

Harvest of Venus Sea Fan and Common (Purple) Sea Fan prohibited


Harvest of Fire Coral prohibited


Except Sheepswool, Yellow, Grass, Glove, Finger, Wire, Reef, and Velvet Sponges; no more than 5 sponges per harvester per day in any combination; harvest of substrate within 1" of base permitted north and west of the southernmost point of Egmont Key, no substrate allowed south of Egmont Key


Harvest of Bahama Starfish (Cushion Sea Star) prohibited


Except Sand Dollars & Sea Biscuits; harvest of Longspine Urchin prohibited

Other Marine Life invertebrates include1: Brittlestars3, Decorator (Furcate Spider) Crab, False Arrow Crab, Green Clinging (Emerald) Crab, Nimble Spray (Urchin) Crab, Red Mithrax Crab, Red-Ridged Clinging Crab, Spotted Porcelain Crab, Yellowline Arrow Crab, Fileclams3, Upside-down Jellyfish, Nudibranchs/Sea Slugs3, Sea Cucumbers3, Sea Lilies, Cleaner/Peppermint Shrimp, Coral Shrimp, Snapping Shrimp, Nassarius Snails3, Starsnails3, Featherduster Worms, and Calcareous Tube Worms.

Marine Life — Plants



Algae, Coralline Red

One gallon of tropical ornamental marine plants per day in any combination; 2 gallon maximum possession limit


Halimeda/Mermaid's Fan/Mermaid's Shaving Brush

1. Unless otherwise noted, combined bag limit of 20 marine life fish and invertebrates per person per day, only 5 of any one species allowed. A 2-day possession limit also applies (40 total organisms, only 10 of any one species).

2. Such as groupers, snappers, seabass, and amberjacks. Must abide by regulations for these species.

3. Bag limit of 2 live shells of any single species per harvester per day in Manatee County. Harvest prohibited in Lee County.

Photo by: Don DeMaria

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