Recreational Fisheries FAQ
Do you have questions about recreational fisheries? Read the recreational fisheries FAQ for answers.
Where can I find rules and regulations on fishing in Florida?
Rules and regulations regarding Florida's recreational and commercial marine species may be found in the Saltwater Fishing Regulations section.
What is the difference between recreational and commercial fishing?
Recreational fishing includes any fishing activity that is for sport, pleasure, or personal use. It is illegal to sell recreational catch. Commercial fishing includes any fishing activity that is for commercial profit. Only those who hold a Saltwater Products License (SPL) issued by the state may sell fish harvested in Florida. Certain federal licenses may also be required. Commercial landings must be reported on state-issued trip tickets during the point of wholesale. Recreational harvest is not reported to the state. Surveys are conducted to estimate recreational harvest.
How are recreational landings estimated?
The Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) was developed by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to monitor recreational fisheries. The survey has two complementary components. The field intercept component collects catch and harvest data directly from anglers through personal interviews. On average, biologists from FWC interview more than 25,000 anglers in Florida annually. The telephone survey component collects information about fishing trips made in the state, including numbers of anglers in each household and how often they go fishing. Combined, the two portions of the survey are used to estimate total catch, harvest, and effort in the recreational fishery. Learn more about the MRIP.
In recent years, specialized surveys have also been developed to supplement the MRIP in Florida. On the east coast, a special survey is conducted during recreational harvest seasons for Red Snapper in the South Atlantic. On the west coast, the Gulf Reef Fish Survey was developed to provide more precise catch estimates for a suite of species caught by anglers fishing from private boats in the Gulf of Mexico. Other supplemental surveys provide biological data on released and harvested fish that are not collected through MRIP.
Who has more of an effect on marine fisheries resources: commercial or recreational harvesters?
Commercial landing activity was reported for 6,145 Saltwater Products Licenses in Florida in the 2016-2017 license year. The total number of recreational anglers in Florida is unknown, but the cumulative effects of recreational fishing on marine resources are potentially large. Annually, there are more than one million resident and non-resident licensed recreational saltwater anglers in Florida; however, not all anglers are required to purchase a recreational saltwater fishing license. The Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) conducted in Florida estimates that in 2016, approximately 5.4 million people made more than 20.9 million recreational fishing trips in the state.
Who takes more fish, commercial or recreational harvesters?
It depends! Some fish are popular recreational target species; others are more valuable to commercial harvesters, and some fish are harvested by both. For example, when you order a grouper sandwich at your favorite restaurant in Florida, chances are it's a red grouper caught by a commercial harvester. Gag grouper are more readily accessible to recreational anglers, who land more than half of gag grouper harvested in Florida. Some species, such as snook and red drum, are designated as game fish and are only harvested recreationally. Other species, such as baitfish species like Spanish sardine, ladyfish, thread herring, menhaden and ballyhoo, are primarily targeted by commercial harvesters.
Where can I find recreational fisheries landings?
Find recreational fisheries landings from the Marine Recreational Information Program's query page, including information on catch and effort by year.