Commercial Regulations for Marine Life

FWC has developed a rule to control fishing effort in the commercial marine life fishery.  Florida's commercial marine life fishery involves harvest of live saltwater finfish, invertebrates and plants, primarily for the aquarium trade.  These organisms are landed and sold alive to wholesalers, retailers and aquarium owners.  An SPL with a Restricted Species (RS) and Marine Life tiered endorsement is required for harvest of marine life species listed in rule 68B-42, F.A.C.

Marine Life Transferable Dive (MLD)

Required to harvest commercial quantities of listed marine life species using allowable gears, including harvest by diving.  Initially issued to applicants with a reported income of at least $5000 from landings of marine life species or live rock during one of the license years between July 1, 1999 and June 30, 2003.  The MLD is transferrable to another person with an SPL & RS.  Requalification for this endorsement begins in 2010/2011, based on prior years' landings.

A person renewing a marine life transferable dive (MLD) endorsement must document landings of $5,000 of marine life species as defined by Rule 68B-42.001, F.A.C., in one of the previous three license years or hold a live rock state lease or federal permit and have documented live rock landings value of greater than or equal to $5,000 during any one of the previous three license years. This endorsement will be valid for three years from the date of documentation used to qualify, but must still be renewed annually.

Marine Life Bycatch Endorsement (MLB)

Required to harvest commercial quantities of marine life as bycatch which does not include harvest by diving.  For persons who collected marine life primarily as bycatch in other fisheries, with gear other than diving gear, and with reported sales of less than $5000 during one of the qualifying years.  The bycatch endorsement is also transferable.

Marine Life Non-Transferable Dive (MLN)

Required to harvest commercial quantities of marine life by diving using gear for persons who had less than $5000 in marine life landings or held a state live rock lease or federal live rock permit during one of the qualifying years and wish to harvest by diving.  This endorsement is only transferrable to immediate family members in the event of death or disability.

Marine Life - Fish 

SpeciesRemarks/Bag Limits ◊Size Limits (total length unless otherwise noted)


75 per person per day or 150 per vessel per day, whichever is less

Gray, French Angelfish:  1 ½ - 8" slot limit

Blue, Queen Angelfish:  1 ¾ - 8" slot limit

Rock Beauty:  2 - 5" slot limit


50 per day/100 per vessel**

1 - 4" slot limit


Except Gray and Ocean Triggerfish and unicorn filefish




Maximum size limit:  2"


Except reef fish†  and Longtail bass




Maximum size limit:  4"



Maximum size limit:  12"


75 per day/150 per vessel**

Minimum size limit:  1 ½"

PufferfishΔ, BurrfishΔ, BalloonfishΔ, PorcupinefishΔ

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



400 dwarf seahorses per person or per vessel per day, whichever is less


TangsΔ and SurgeonfishΔ


Maximum size limit (Fork Length):  9"

WrasseΔ/HogfishΔ /Razorfish

Except Hogfish snapper; Spanish, Cuban Hogfish:  50 of each per day/100 total combined per vessel**

Spanish Hogfish:  2 - 8" slot limit
Cuban Hogfish:  3 - 8" slot limit

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 Marine Life - Invertebrates

SpeciesRemarks/Bag Limits ◊


Giant Caribbean anemone (Condylactis spp): Prohibited.

Corallimorphs:  100 per day/200 per vessel**; Zoanthids:  1 gallon per day/2 gallons per vessel**; Corallimorphs and Zoanthids:  Must be harvested with a flexible blade no wider than 2".  Corallimorphs must be harvest as single polyps only.

Corals; Hard (Stony) (Order Scleractinia), Fire (Genus Millepora, Black (Order Antipatharia)

Harvest prohibited

Corals, Soft (Octocorals)

Harvest of attached substrate within 1" of octocoral base is permitted; harvest closes in response to federal octocoral closures.

Crab, Emerald (Green Clinging)

400 per person or per vessel per day, whichever is less

Crab, Hermit

Except Land Hermit Crabs; Scarlet reef hermit (Paguristes cadenati):  1 quart per day/2 quarts per vessel**; Blue-legged/tricolor hermit crabs (Clibanarius tricolor):  1 quart per day/per vessel, whichever is less

Live Rock

Aquaculture only; live rock lease and/or state and/or federal permit required; includes live rock created by Sabellarid tube worms.


Except Common Octopus

Sea Cucumbers

Trip Limit: None

NEW: A 200 daily trip and vessel limit was approved at the April 2014 Commission meeting and will go into effect June 11, 2014.

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; 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 the Bahama Starfish (Cushion Sea Star) prohibited

Starsnails (Lithopoma americanum, Lithompoma tectum, Astralium phoebium)

One gallon per day/2 gallons per vessel**


Harvest of Longspine Urchin prohibited


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*MLD or MLN required for use and possession of quinaldine used to harvest tropical fish (Special Activity License also required).

MLB endorsement holders using special gears other than those listed in 68B-42.007 F.A.C.:  20 total marine life finfish per day.

ΔCollection prohibited in John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park.  See Chapter 68B-5 F.A.C. for other prohibited species including Bigeyes, Bonnetmouths, Congers, Dragonets, Goatfishes, Muraenesocids, Pikeblennies, Sand Stargazers, Scorpionfish, Sea chubs, False Morays, Soles, Spaghetti Eels, Squirrelfishes, Stargazers, Threadfins, and Tonguefishes.  Collection of most fish species less than 8 inches total length is prohibited within Jonh Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park unless a minimum size limit is otherwise established by rule or law.

**Bag limit is unique per SPL number with a marine life endorsement; vessel possession limit is per vessel with two or more unique SPL numbers with marine life endorsements aboard.

Such as groupers, snappers, sea basses, and amberjacks.  Must abide by regulations for these species.

***Bag limit is unique per SPL number with unique marine life endorsement; vessel possession limit is per vessel with two or more unique SPL numbers with unique marine life endorsements aboard.

Other Marine Life fish include *◊: BassletsΔ, BatfishΔ, Blackbar SoldierfishΔ, BlenniesΔ, Brotulas (Black and Key), CardinalfishΔ, ClingfishΔ, CornetfishΔ, DamselfishΔ, Eels (Moray and Snake) Δ, FrogfishΔ, HawkfishΔ, High-hatΔ/Jacknife-fishΔ, Spotted DrumΔ, CubbyuΔ, PipefishΔ, Reef CroakersΔ, Sleepers, Yellow Stingray, SweepersΔ, ToadfishΔ, TrumpetfishΔ, and TrunkfishΔ/CowfishΔ

Other Marine Life invertebrates include: Brittlestars, Decorator (Furcate Spider) Crab, False Arrow Crab, Nimble Spray (Urchin) Crab, Red Mithrax Crab, Red Ridged Clinging Crab, Spotted Porcelain Crab, Yellowline Arrow Crab, Fileclams, Upside-down Jellyfish, Nudibranchs/Sea Slug, Sea Cucumbers, Sea Lilies, Cleaner/Peppermint Shrimp, Coral Shrimp, Snapping Shrimp, Nassarius Snails, Featherduster Worms, and Calcareous Tube Worms.

Marine Life plants include: Coralline red algae, Caulerpa, Halimeda/Mermaid's Fan/Mermaid's Shaving Brush

FWC Facts:
Snook are ambush feeders, often hiding behind bridge pilings, rocks and other submerged structures to surprise their prey.

Learn More at AskFWC