A friendly reminder as anglers may have some extra fishing time that there has been a change in inshore fishing regulations. Snook, red drum and spotted seatrout are closed to harvest from Gordon’s pass North to Pasco county on Florida’s West Coast. Fishing can be a great way to social distance while getting outside and filling the freezers! Many inshore species such as snapper,black drum and sheepshead are still open for harvest and are biting! Always check the most current regulations before heading out and practice best handling techniques on fish intended for release.
Announced February 19th 2020, FWC (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission) decided to extend the catch and release seasons for snook, red drum and spotted seatrout to May 31, 2021 as a proactive measure to mitigate damages caused the persistent 2017-2019 red tide blooms. This closure will occur from Pasco County South to Gordon’s Pass (Collier County). Red drum and spotted seatrout will tentatively reopen May 31st 2021 ;however, since this date coincides with Gulf snook’s usual seasonal closure (May 1- August 31), snook will reopen September 1st 2021.
The short-term management changes for these three species originated in 2018 in response to stakeholder concerns and fisheries independent monitoring data collected monthly from Tampa Bay, Sarasota Bay and Charlotte Harbor. Current abundance of juvenile and adult populations of snook, red drum and spotted seatrout were compared to long term averages to estimate the impacts red tide. Species specific life history and reproductive traits were also considered when estimating future long-term impacts for each fishery.
FWC also pursues non regulatory measures to address concerns regarding community, fisheries and red tide. To better understand local impacts, FDEP (Florida Department of Environmental Protection) and FWC have made visits to communities effected by red tide and the recent closures. Stock enhancement efforts have been through the aquaculture of red drum and snook. The organizations responsible for these efforts have been FWC, Mote Marine Lab, the CCA (Coastal Conservation Association) and Duke Energy. Governor Scott allocated $1.2 million in additional funding to aid in research, production and stocking of red drum at FWC’s Stock Enhancement Research Facility (SERF) located at Port Manatee. In addition to ongoing fish and harmful algal bloom monitoring efforts, a state Harmful Algal Bloom Task Force was created to determine strategies for research, control and mitigation of these blooms.
Additional information about the change in regulation can be found via the FWC’s news release https://myfwc.com/news/all-news/extended-cnr-220/ and the presentation which occurred prior to the decision https://myfwc.com/media/22772/5e-presentation-snookreddrumseatrout.pdf
You can also subscribe to text and email updates regarding fisheries news and red tide status at: https://myfwc.com/research/about/connect/subscribe/
What do you think of these proactive rather than reactive measures FWC is taking?