Governor Rick Scott announced that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is providing $1.2 million to enhance research and production of redfish at the FWC Stock Enhancement Research Facility at Port Manatee. This funding will help the FWC to address impacts of naturally occurring red tide on redfish populations in coastal marine fisheries. [Read more…] about Gov. Scott: Additional $1.2 Million for Redfish Hatchery Will Help Mitigate Impacts from Red Tide
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
The greater amberjack recreational season in Gulf state waters will reopen to harvest May 1 and remain open through May 31. The season will reopen again Aug. 1 through Oct. 31.
Greater amberjack is overfished and undergoing overfishing, and the season has closed increasingly early in recent years due to federal quotas being met or exceeded. This new season structure adopted at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) meeting in December will optimize recreational fishing opportunities in both the spring and fall while minimizing harvest during the spawning season, helping to rebuild the stock.
The following species will reopen to recreational harvest May 1 in Florida state and federal waters of the Atlantic: hogfish; gag, black, red, yellowmouth and yellowfin grouper; scamp; red hind; rock hind; coney; and graysby.
Hogfish will remain open through Oct. 31, 2018, on the east coast of Florida as well as south and east of Cape Sable on the Gulf coast. The other species will remain open through Dec. 31, 2018, on the east coast of Florida and all state waters off Monroe County.
More information about hogfish and grouper bag and size limits, gear restrictions and fishing seasons, including a map of the Atlantic and Gulf grouper fishing boundaries, is available online at MyFWC.com/Fishing; select “Saltwater Fishing” then “Recreational Regulations.”
At the April 26 meeting in Fort Lauderdale, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) discussed Gulf red snapper management, including the 40-day Gulf recreational season (June 11-July 20, 2018), and approved the creation of a Gulf Reef Fish State For-Hire program for 2018 and 2019. This program will enhance management efforts by requiring for-hire operations that target or harvest certain reef fish in Gulf of Mexico state waters (excluding Monroe County) to report their intention to harvest these species.
To learn more about the 40-day recreational red snapper season in Gulf state and federal waters visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater Fishing,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Snappers.”
For-hire operations that do not have a federal reef fish permit but target reef fish in state waters will need to sign up for the Gulf Reef Fish State For-Hire program before targeting any of the following species: red snapper, vermilion snapper, gag grouper, red grouper, black grouper, gray triggerfish, greater amberjack, lesser amberjack, banded rudderfish and almaco jack.
This effort is part of a fishery-management pilot program (also referred to as an Exempted Fishing Permit) that allows the FWC to manage recreational red snapper harvest in Gulf state and federal waters off Florida in 2018 and 2019.
To share your comments or input on Gulf red snapper, visit MyFWC.com/SaltwaterComments.
At its April meeting in Fort Lauderdale, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved several changes to the management of tripletail and sheepshead.
Changes go into effect July 1, 2018, and include:
- Increasing the minimum size limit from 15 to 18 inches total length.
- Extending all of the FWC’s recreational and commercial regulations for this species into federal waters (including the new size limit).
- Reducing the recreational bag limit from 15 to 8 fish per person, per day year-round.
- Creating a recreational vessel limit of 50 fish per vessel, per trip during March and April.
- Extending all of the FWC’s recreational and commercial regulations for this species into federal waters (including the new bag and vessel limits).
These proactive measures will help conserve both fisheries for current and future generations.
After listening to public comments on and discussing the current and future management of sharks in Florida at the April meeting in Fort Lauderdale, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) directed staff to continue to stay engaged on all shark-related issues and to pursue development of draft regulations for shore-based shark fishing. The FWC understands this is an issue that is important to the public, especially those who have had negative interactions, and we want to work toward finding solutions. Staff will workshop and bring draft regulations to a future Commission meeting.
Shore-based shark fishing is a sport that has drawn increased public attention in recent years. Due to this, the FWC has made it a priority to increase outreach on best practices when shark fishing from shore. This outreach has included working more closely with shark fishing tournament directors and other user groups, and creating a series of Shark-Smart Fishing guidelines.
Snook will close to all harvest in Gulf state, federal and inland waters, including all of Monroe County and Everglades National Park, starting May 1. Seasonal harvest closures conserve Florida’s valuable snook populations and help sustain and improve the fishery for the future.
Snook is open to harvest in Atlantic state, federal and inland waters, including Lake Okeechobee and the Kissimmee River, through May 31, closing June 1.
Both the Atlantic and Gulf will reopen for recreational snook harvest Sept. 1.
Snook are one of the many reasons Florida is the Fishing Capital of the World. While snook may be caught and released during the closed season, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) encourages anglers to handle their catch carefully to help the fish survive upon release. Proper handling methods can help ensure the species’ abundance for anglers today and generations to come. To learn more about fish handling, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater Fishing,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Fish Handling.”
It’s nesting season for Florida’s waterbirds, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and Audubon Florida are reminding beachgoers and boaters to give these birds and their young space to help keep them safe.
“This is a critical time of year for nesting birds and their young,” said Craig Faulhaber, avian conservation coordinator for the FWC. “By taking a few simple steps, people can enjoy a day at the beach or on the water without disturbing nesting birds and their chicks, which increases the birds’ chances of survival.”
Shorebirds and seabirds build shallow nests out of sand and shells on beaches in spring and summer, and eggs and chicks are difficult to see. Wading birds, such as herons and egrets, as well as pelicans, are also nesting now on islands around the state. Both types of birds can be easily disturbed if people approach too closely. Such disturbance can cause birds to abandon their nesting sites, exposing eggs and chicks to predators, sun exposure and other harm.
Shorebird nests, eggs and chicks are well-camouflaged and can easily be missed and even stepped on unless people know to look out for them. The snowy plover, least tern, black skimmer, American oystercatcher and Wilson’s plover are several of Florida’s beach-nesting bird species facing conservation challenges. Wading birds and pelicans typically nest in mangroves and on tree islands. Reddish egrets, tricolored herons and roseate spoonbills have also experienced declines.
“Florida’s coasts took a beating from Hurricane Irma in 2017,” said Julie Wraithmell, interim executive director for Audubon Florida. “We can’t control impacts to nesting sites from weather, but we can protect them from human disturbance. This year it is more important than ever.”
The FWC has established Critical Wildlife Areas to protect congregations of one or more species of wildlife from human disturbance during critical life activities such as nesting, feeding or migration.
People can help keep nesting birds safe by keeping their distance from CWAs and other areas where birds are nesting or raising young. In addition to observing the marked-off areas around CWAs, people can also help by following a few simple steps while enjoying the beach this season:
- Keep your distance from birds, on the beach or on the water. If birds become agitated or leave their nests, you are too close. A general rule is to stay at least 300 feet from a nest. Birds calling out loudly and dive-bombing are signals for you to back off.
- Respect posted areas. Avoid posted nesting sites and use designated walkways when possible.
- Never intentionally force birds to fly or run. This causes them to use energy needed for nesting, and eggs and chicks may be left vulnerable to the sun’s heat or predators. Teach children not to chase shorebirds and seabirds, and kindly ask fellow beachgoers to do the same. Shorebirds and seabirds outside of posted areas may be feeding or resting and need to do so without disturbance.
- It is best to not take pets to the beach, but if you do, keep them leashed and avoid shorebird and seabird nesting areas. (State parks, national parks and CWAs do not allow pets.)
- Keep the beach clean and do not feed wildlife. Food scraps attract predators, such as raccoons and crows, which can prey on shorebird eggs and chicks. Litter on beaches can entangle birds and other wildlife.
- Spread the word. If you see people disturbing nesting birds, gently let them know how their actions may hurt the birds’ survival. If they continue to disturb nesting birds, report it to the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922), #FWC or *FWC on a cellphone or by texting Tip@MyFWC.com. You may also report nests that are not posted to our Wildlife Alert Program.
For more information, go to MyFWC.com/Shorebirds and download the “Share the Beach with Beach-Nesting Birds” brochure. Or go to the Florida Shorebird Alliance website at FLShorebirdAlliance.org to learn more about how to participate in shorebird and seabird conservation efforts.
For more information about Florida’s CWAs, visit MyFWC.com/CWA.
To learn how you can volunteer your time to protect nesting coastal birds, visit and scroll over the “Conservation” tab at the top, then click on “Coastal Conservation” and “Coastal Bird Stewardship,” or you may email FLConservation@Audubon.org.
Attention recreational and commercial lionfish hunters: Registration for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) 2018 Lionfish Challenge is open. Register at MyFWC.com/Lionfish.
This year’s Challenge begins on Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day, May 19, and will run through Sept. 3. Join us for the Challenge kickoff at the Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day Festival and the Lionfish World Championship Tournament, May 19 and 20, at the Flora-Bama Yacht Club and Ole River Grill on the Florida/Alabama coastal border. The event will also include a benefit concert by Little Texas at 5 p.m. Sunday, May 20, presented by Coast Watch Alliance and Lionfish University.
Thanks to our sponsors, this year’s Challenge will include a new tagged-lionfish component. Catch an FWC-tagged lionfish and win up to $5,000.
Non-cash prizes, such as GoPro cameras, tumblers by Engel Coolers, puncture-resistant gloves by TurtleSkin, customized towels and more, will also be awarded to participants who remove and submit lionfish, tagged or not.
The participants who remove the most lionfish in the recreational and commercial categories will be crowned the 2018 Recreational Lionfish King/Queen and the Commercial Champion.
The goal of these programs is to encourage and track removals of nonnative invasive lionfish.
Thanks to the following sponsors:
- American Sportfishing Association
- Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A.
- Boat Owners Association of the United States
- National Marine Manufacturers Association
- Coastal Conservation Association Florida
- Marine Industries Association of Palm Beach County, Inc.
- Dive Rite
- Narked Scuba
- Lionator Pole Spears
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and Gov. Rick Scott are excited to announce a 40-day recreational red snapper season for both Gulf state and federal waters. A 24-day season was originally proposed.
Gov. Scott said, “Florida is a premier fishing destination and saltwater fishing in the Gulf of Mexico has a $7.6 billion economic impact in our state every year. Adding additional opportunities for anglers to enjoy Florida’s world-class fishing not only benefits our visitors but also our Gulf Coast communities. I am pleased to announce this extension today, and encourage visitors and residents to start planning their summer fishing trips.”
“Florida is an important access point throughout the nation and world for recreational red snapper fishing,” said FWC Chairman Bo Rivard. “With other Gulf states setting longer seasons than what Florida had initially proposed, it was important for us to find a fair resolution that would provide equal access to red snapper in Florida. FWC worked collaboratively with NOAA Fisheries to come up with a season that would provide access to all of those that choose Florida as their fishing destination. We appreciate the leadership from Gov. Rick Scott and U.S. Congressman Neal Dunn and we are excited to announce that extension today.”
Florida will be setting the season in 2018 and 2019 in both state and federal waters through a fishery-management pilot program (also referred to as an Exempted Fishing Permit). The 2018 proposed season would open June 11 and close July 21.
This recreational season will include those fishing for red snapper from private recreational vessels. For-hire operations that do not have a federal reef fish permit are also included but are limited to targeting reef fish in Gulf state waters only.
This Exempted Fishing Permit will not apply to commercial fishermen or for-hire operations with a valid federal reef fish permit.
To share your comments or input on Gulf red snapper, visit MyFWC.com/SaltwaterComments.
Learn more about snapper at MyFWC.com/Fishing by clicking on “Saltwater Fishing,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Snappers” and don’t forget to sign up for the Gulf Reef Fish Survey via GoOutdoorsFlorida.com if you plan to target snapper or other reef fish from a private vessel.