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
At the October 2021 Commission Meeting, the Commission approved a proposed rule for a limited, highly regulated harvest of goliath and directed staff to explore specific modifications to the proposal. A final rule will be presented at the March 2022 Commission Meeting. If approved, the final rule would create a special opportunity for goliath harvest through a lottery draw, while enacting area and seasonal closures, size and gear restrictions, and post-harvest requirements. Additionally, staff will provide considerations for future rulemaking to reduce impacts of catch-and-release fishing on goliath spawning aggregation sites in state waters. Details on the final rules proposed will be presented at public workshops and on the March 2022 Commission Meeting agenda webpage when available.
- October Commission meeting agenda and documents
- May Commission meeting agenda and documents
- Goliath grouper webpage and documents
Comment on this item below using the commenting form.
Staff is seeking feedback on potential recreational management measures for dolphinfish in Atlantic state waters. In recent years, private recreational and for-hire fishermen have raised concerns about the declines in size and abundance of dolphinfish in south Florida, and recently, the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council reduced the recreational vessel limit from 60 to 54 fish. The Commission has expressed interest in taking a proactive management approach and could consider reducing the recreational vessel limit and possibly modifying the bag limit in Atlantic state waters. Staff is seeking feedback on reducing dolphinfish recreational limits, including reducing the vessel limit from 60 to 30 fish for private recreational and charter operations, and expanding this vessel limit to headboat operations. Comment on this topic below.
The Commission will consider final rules at their March 2022 meeting to change shrimp regulations as follows:
- In the Big Bend, nearshore waters closest to land have been closed to all shrimp harvest since 1993 when the area was designated as a shrimp nursery. Recreational harvesters have requested to harvest shrimp in this area. Allowing recreational harvest of two gallons per person and five gallons per vessel in this area with cast nets and dip nets would create additional access to the shrimp fishery and is not expected to negatively impact the shrimp resource or seagrass habitat.
- The production of high-quality frozen shrimp for the seafood market begins with at-sea shrimping. The Individual Quick Freeze (IQF) process is the industry standard for producing a superior shrimp product; however, FWC’s rule inhibits shrimpers in state waters from preparing shrimp for this process. This is because the rule’s “brine box” definition prohibits the possession of any high-salinity tank, and the IQF method involves placing sorted and bagged shrimp in a high-salinity freezer tank for quick freezing before going into onboard cold storage. Allowing the possession and use of a high-salinity freezer tank for the IQF process would align FWC rules with industry standards and continue to prevent the use of brine boxes to sort shrimp from bycatch.
- Over time, regulations can become inaccurate for a variety of reasons, such as boundaries losing physical references, changes to license names, and omitted or imprecise definitions. Changes are needed to clarify the boundary for the area closed to commercial food shrimp harvest in Santa Rosa Sound. Also, correcting the “Live Bait Shrimp License” name and updating a definition referring to that license, as well as adding a definition of “inland waters” will clarify regulations while also being consistent with Florida Statutes.
Comment on this item below using the comment form.
The Commission will consider final rules at their December 2021 meeting to change requirements for recreational blue crab traps in order to provide protections for diamondback terrapins, which are a Species of Greatest Concern in Florida. Diamondback terrapins live in brackish coastal ecosystems, commonly inhabiting salt marsh and mangrove habitats. Because diamondback terrapins and blue crabs share similar habitat and diets, terrapins can be incidentally caught in blue crab traps.
The proposed changes for recreational blue crab traps would require rigid throat openings no larger than 2x6 inches at the narrowest point, which can be achieved by installing a bycatch reduction device (BRD). At the same time, the Commission will consider prohibiting the collection of diamondback terrapins from the wild with an exception to collect with a scientific research permit. If approved, people who have diamondback terrapins as pets prior to March 1, 2022, can legally keep these animals but will be required to get a no-cost permit. These proposed changes are part of a holistic approach to address potential threats to terrapins, which also includes outreach and education, and habitat restoration.
Note: In December 2020, the Commission approved a proposed rule for a maximum throat size for commercial blue crab traps, but staff recommend delaying final rulemaking for this item while additional research is conducted.
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.
FWC is seeking angler input on the redfish fishery; anglers’ desires for the redfish fishery, including regulation changes. Although an updated stock assessment indicates redfish are exceeding FWC’s management goal in most of the state, staff continue to hear localized concerns from anglers. FWC began gathering public input on this fishery at the inaugural Redfish Summit in August 2021 and provided this feedback to Commissioners at the October Commission meeting, as well as outline a plan for continuing to gather public input, including at public workshops in October 2021. Staff also sought Commissioner input on the current catch-and-release measures for Tampa Bay.
- 2021 Redfish Summit I
- 2020 Redfish Stock Assessment
- Redfish workshops
- October 2021 Commission meeting agenda
- Tampa Bay catch-and-release Executive Order
Comment on this item below using the commenting form.