Saltwater Public Comments
The following topics are either tentatively slated to be brought before the Commission in the near future or items FWC staff plan to begin working on.
This is not an all-encompassing list and topics may be moved to a later date or not discussed at all.
Visit the Commission meeting agenda page to see what FWC staff will be presenting to the Commission at an upcoming meeting.
Future Commission Meeting Topics
Stone crab landings in Florida show a long-term downward trend, indicating a decline in the stone crab population. FWC has been hearing concerns about the long-term health and sustainability of the stone crab fishery and is gathering feedback on a variety of potential management actions to reduce harvest and help the stone crab population recover.
The Commission approved a series of draft rule changes for both recreational and commercial harvesters at the May 2020 FWC meeting and directed staff to continue working with the fishery and to continue evaluating potential options.
Based on public input received since the draft rule hearing, staff has updated the proposed final management changes to include:
- Move the end of the stone crab season from May 15 to April 15 [UPDATE]
- Extend the post-season stone crab trap retrieval period from 5 days to 10 days after the season ends [NEW]
- Require a 2 3/16” diameter escape ring in all plastic and wood stone crab traps by the 2023/2024 season
- Increase the minimum claw size from 2 ¾” to 2 7/8”
- Limit the possession of whole stone crabs on the water to 2 checker boxes, each up to 3 ft. by 2 ft. by 2 ft., or 12 cubic ft.
The Commission could make a final decision on management changes for this fishery at the July 2020 FWC meeting. View background documents on this topic.
Comment on this fishery below.
Bluefish from Maine through the Atlantic coast of Florida make up a single population. A 2019 federal stock assessment found that this Atlantic population of bluefish is overfished. Because of the assessment result, federal fishery managers adopted more restrictive recreational bag limits in federal waters, and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) is requesting states implement similar regulations. In response to the ASMFC request, FWC will discuss and potentially modify current bluefish regulations for Atlantic caught bluefish.
A stock status update completed by FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute suggests that the flounder fishery statewide has been in a general declining trend in recent years and is likely overfished and undergoing overfishing on the Atlantic coast of Florida. Over the past few years, staff has also heard a variety of concerns and requests for management changes in the flounder fishery. In response to the recent flounder stock status update and public feedback, staff is seeking additional public comment on a potential management proposal.
Proposed regulation changes
- Increasing the minimum size limit to 14 inches (recreational and commercial)
- Decreasing the recreational daily bag limit from 10 to 5 fish per person
- Establishing a commercial trip and vessel limit of 150 fish when harvesting with allowable gear, except in November
- Establishing a November recreational closure
- Establishing a November commercial trip and vessel limit of 50 pounds when harvesting with allowable gear
- Extending all FWC flounder regulations into federal waters
The Commission will discuss the proposed changes at the July 2020 FWC meeting. View background documents on this topic.
Provide comments below
The FWC will be reviewing several trap fisheries in the upcoming year including spiny lobster, blue crab, pinfish/baitfish, trap retrieval, recreational trap fisheries, and traps used for shellfish aquaculture leases. Workshops scheduled for May.
Staff has been hearing concerns about the status of various fisheries in Charlotte Harbor and is gathering feedback on the fisheries in that area.
Recreational bag limit and season regulations for blueline tilefish and snowy grouper are different in Florida’s Atlantic state and federal waters. Atlantic blueline tilefish has experienced overfishing in recent years. There is a federal rebuilding plan for Atlantic snowy grouper, which has been overfished since the early 1980s. The federal quotas for both species are small and harvest of these fish in state waters counts against their federal quotas. Thus, harvest from Florida state waters may contribute to in-season closures in federal waters.
FWC is gathering public input on aligning recreational regulations in Atlantic state waters with those in federal waters:
- Including blueline tilefish in the three-fish grouper aggregate recreational bag limit. Blueline tilefish currently fall under the default recreational bag limit of 100 pounds in state waters.
- Reducing the snowy grouper recreational bag limit from one fish per person to one fish per vessel, within the three-fish grouper aggregate.
- Setting a recreational season for blueline tilefish and snowy grouper in state waters. Currently, these species are open year round in Atlantic state waters. The current federal season for blueline tilefish and snowy grouper recreational harvest is May 1 – August 31.
Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) coordinates management of spot and croaker along the Atlantic coast through an interstate fishery management plan. Population trends indicate potential cause for concern for these species and the Commission may consider modifying regulations.