State Reef Fish Survey FAQs
The State Reef Fish Survey (SRFS) is a specialized recreational fishing survey that provides timely and precise data needed to manage and assess important reef fish stocks throughout Florida. SRFS relies on two methods to collect information on recreational fishing for reef fish from private boats, a mail survey and in-person interviews.
The State Reef Fish Angler designation is required for recreational anglers and spear fishers who intend to fish for or harvest certain reef fish species in Florida. This designation makes you eligible for selection to receive the mail survey component of the State Reef Fish Survey.
Recreational anglers and divers fishing from a private boat anywhere in Florida who intend to harvest, attempt to harvest or possess one or more of the following reef fish species:
- mutton snapper
- yellowtail snapper
- red snapper
- vermilion snapper
- red grouper
- black grouper
- greater amberjack
- lesser amberjack
- banded rudderfish
- almaco jack
- gray triggerfish
The following groups will also be required to sign up for the State Reef Fish Angler designation annually, even though they are exempt from saltwater fishing licensing requirements:
- Those who are age 65 or older.
- Florida residents who are members of the Armed Forces of the United States, who are not stationed in this state and home on leave for 30 days or less, upon submission of orders
- Veterans with disabilities, active or reserve duty military service members and their immediate family and/or an assistant who are participating in a permitted outdoor recreational event for which the Commission has issued a Military/Disabled Veteran Event License Exemption Permit to the event organizer.
- Those with multi-year or lifetime licenses.
- Florida residents certified as totally and permanently disabled who possess a Florida Resident Disabled Person's Hunting and Fishing License.
- Individuals who hold a valid saltwater products license using their license to recreationally fish for the SRFS species.
Those NOT required to obtain the State Reef Fish Angler designation include those who are:
- Fishing from a licensed charter, headboat or party boat vessel, or with a licensed for-hire guide.
- There is already a separate survey mechanism in place to collect recreational fisheries data from for-hire operations.
- Under 16 years of age.
- Harvesting for scientific and educational purposes under a special activity license issued by FWC.
- Fishing from a vessel that has a valid Recreational Vessel fishing license. (This license covers anyone saltwater fishing from a recreational vessel where no fee is paid. This is not an individual fishing license.)
- Not fishing for or harvesting reef fish.
No. The State Reef Fish Angler designation is available at no cost.
The State Reef Fish Angler designation may be obtained anywhere FWC saltwater fishing licenses are sold (on GoOutdoorsFlorida.com, on the Fish|Hunt Florida mobile app, over the phone at 1-888-FISHFLORIDA (347-4356), or at tackle shops, sporting goods stores, and tax collectors offices).
Instructions for signing up on the web or app: visit GoOutdoorsFlorida.com, or download the Fish|Hunt Florida mobile app
- Log in or create a new account by following the steps on the login screen.
- Once you are logged in, click on “Purchase a License”, add the no-cost State Reef Fish Angler to your cart (found under “Saltwater Fishing Permits”) and then complete the checkout process. Unless exempt from Saltwater Fishing license requirements, you will need to have a Saltwater Fishing license on file or in your cart to add the State Reef Fish Angler.
- After checkout, your permit will be emailed to the email address on file, and can also be stored to your mobile device via the Fish|Hunt Florida mobile app.
Note: If you are exempt from Saltwater Fishing license requirements, you may still need to obtain the State Reef Fish Angler designation. You’ll need to follow the steps listed above but will not need to add a Saltwater Fishing license to your cart. If you hold an Individual SPL, please contact the Office of Licensing and Permitting by emailing CustomerService@MyFWC.com for assistance with adding the designation to your account.
The State Reef Fish Angler designation must be renewed annually, just like a one-year fishing license.
The Gulf Reef Fish Survey (GRFS) expired June 30, 2020, and this survey provided critical recreational harvest fishing data that allowed for the state management of red snapper, in addition to other reef fish. Replacing it with the State Reef Fish Survey ensures that this valuable information can continue to be collected in the Gulf and expands the benefits of better data and enhanced management opportunities statewide.
Recreational fishing is a valued past-time and an important driver for the economy of this state. Data collected through the State Reef Fish Survey will provide a clearer picture of the health of reef fish stocks throughout the state and help ensure the long-term sustainability of recreational fishing in Florida. SRFS will improve recreational catch estimates and allow for improved stock assessments for reef fish and enhanced management opportunities.
Additionally, SRFS is needed for FWC to continue successfully managing the private recreational Gulf red snapper fishery in federal waters.
Your participation is crucial to the success of these efforts.
Your Gulf designation will remain valid until its expiration date (a year from the date you last obtained it) and will meet the new statewide requirement after SRFS goes into effect on July 1, 2020. You do not need a State Reef Fish Angler designation until your current Gulf designation expires. However, if you would like your SRFS designation to expire at the same time as your saltwater fishing license, you can also choose to sign up for SRFS when renewing your license.
If you fish for reef fish in federal waters and transit through Florida state waters or land your fish in Florida, yes, you are required to sign up as a State Reef Fish Angler.
If you intend to target, harvest, or possess one of the 13 reef fish species while aboard a private vessel, you are required to have the SRFS designation regardless of how you target these fish.
A large portion of Florida residents (20% in 2018 according to the U.S. Census Bureau) are 65 or over. By including recreational anglers that are 65 years and older, FWC is better able to survey all anglers and divers who fish for reef fish.
An annual renewal allows FWC to identify which recreational anglers are fishing for reef fish each year and ensures the contact information for these individuals is current so we can survey these people.
State Reef Fish Anglers may be randomly selected to receive a survey in the mail that asks about their fishing activity for the most recent month. Questions in the survey are general in nature and only pertain to where (which region(s) of the state) and how often the survey recipient fished during the previous month. Anglers will not be asked to report every fishing trip they make.
The State Reef Fish Survey collects data through a mail survey to estimate the number of recreational trips that target reef fish each month. In addition, FWC biologists conduct in-person interviews at offshore access points, such as boat ramps and marinas to collect information on the numbers and types of fish caught during recreational trips.
The trip-level catch information (from in-person interviews) is multiplied times the estimated number of trips (from the mail survey) to estimate the total numbers of reef fish species harvested and released by recreational harvesters in Florida.
Information on how many anglers did not fish for or harvest reef fish in Florida waters during a given month is also very important, so we want to hear back from everyone who receives a mail survey, whether they fished for reef fish or not. If we do not hear from you after sending the survey, you will receive a courtesy reminder after one week and a new copy of the survey after two weeks.
No. MRIP is not being replaced by the State Reef Fish Survey. The State Reef Fish Survey is designed to complement MRIP by targeting those who fish for selected reef fish species and provide more detailed information that will allow fisheries managers to better manage the resource.
The vast majority of reef fish included in this survey are caught from a boat.
FWC and our federal partners use other methods to collect fishing data from for-hire operations and commercial fishermen. FWC biologists ride along with charter and headboat anglers to collect information on fish harvested and released at-sea. Charter boat captains participate in a weekly telephone survey and provide information on their vessels’ recreational fishing activities whenever they are selected. Coming soon, charter vessel operators with federal permits will be required to submit reports to NOAA Fisheries about each fishing trip. Learn more. Operators of large party boats (also called headboats) are already required to submit data to NOAA Fisheries for every fishing trip. All commercial landings of reef fish are also reported to state and federal resource management agencies during the point of sale.
The State Reef Fish Angler designation provides a complete “address book” that can be used to directly survey participants in the reef fish fishery. Without a complete list, we would have to estimate how many people participate in the recreational reef fish fishery, in addition to how many trips each person takes and how many fish are caught each trip. This would increase the level of uncertainty around recreational catch estimates.
You can get the State Reef Fish Angler designation at any time. If you do not know whether you are going to fish for reef fish, you can always wait and sign up later, perhaps shortly before a planned trip.
In addition to the mail survey and dockside interviews, anglers fishing recreationally from for-hire vessels may also be accompanied by an FWC biologist to observe reef fishes that are released at-sea. This information provides important insight into the overall health of fish stocks, how many fish will be available to harvest in future years, and how well fish survive following catch and release.
On the Atlantic coast of Florida, FWC also conducts enhanced survey efforts during federal harvest seasons for red snapper in addition to the new SRFS. The enhanced survey efforts are still needed to closely track red snapper landings in-season, and SRFS will provide more precise estimates for fish released year-round.
FWC also conducts separate scientific studies that are independent of what fishers may see on the water, and these surveys are used to monitor the abundance of reef fishes and the relative contributions of juvenile and adult fish in the populations. These data are important for assessing the overall health and sustainability of reef fish stocks.