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Gulf of Mexico Management Changes

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Includes Harvest Closure for Gag and Increased Bag Limit for Red Grouper

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission approved new management measures for gag and red grouper in Gulf of Mexico state waters at the November 2011 FWC Commission meeting in Key Largo. The new rules, which keep harvest of gag closed into 2012 while increasing the number of red grouper an angler can take, are consistent with newly-approved regulations for Gulf federal waters.

Gag season in Gulf of Mexico state waters (excluding Monroe County) will be closed through March 31, 2012. Gag is also closed in Gulf federal waters (beyond nine miles from shore) through at least June 2, 2012.

Federal fishery managers recently proposed a July 1 through October 31 recreational harvest season for gag in federal waters. If this harvest season is approved by the US Secretary of Commerce, the FWC will consider approving a similar harvest season for Gulf gag in state waters sometime in 2012. These season changes are intended to help rebuild the Gulf gag population. Gulf gag are overfished and undergoing overfishing, which means that the gag population is low and harvest rates are too high.

Unlike gag, red grouper is not overfished or undergoing overfishing. In fact, federal fishery managers increased the number of red grouper fishermen can harvest. The recreational bag limit for red grouper in state and federal waters of the Gulf (excluding Monroe County state waters) increased from two to four fish per person, per day at the end of 2011. Remember, anglers cannot take more than four grouper in the Gulf, no matter the species, a day. This can mean taking four red grouper, or taking two black and two red or some other combination of grouper that is in season.

Be sure to visit for the latest updates on grouper regulations, including the dates for the 2012 recreational Gulf gag harvest season.


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