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Stay current on saltwater fishing regulations...

Just in case you don’t have an attorney on retainer to keep up with the ever-changing and confusing list of state, federal, Gulf and Atlantic fishery regulations, we will hit the major ones here and provide a complete list you can print off online at www.woodsnwater.net.

To stay current on saltwater fishing regulations you can go online:

• Florida state waters (Click here)

• Gulf of Mexico federal waters (beyond 9 miles) go to: (www.gulfcouncil.org/)

• South Atlantic federal waters (beyond 3 miles), go to: www.safmc.net. (www.safmc.net)

GULF Grouper

New federal rules for grouper in the Gulf of Mexico took effect May 18, 2009 and the state followed suit on Aug. 27, 2009. These rules:

• Established a Feb. 1 - March 31 closed season for all recreational harvest of shallow-water grouper (red, black, gag, yellowfin, yellowmouth, rock hind, red hind and scamp) in all Gulf state waters,

• Cut the daily recreational aggregate bag limit for all grouper in the Gulf from 5 fish to 4 fish per person per day,

• Reduced the commercial minimum size limit for Gulf red grouper from 20 inches to 18 inches total length.

ATLANTIC GROUPER

New grouper regulations took effect July 29, 2009 in federal waters and January 19, 2010 in state waters of the Atlantic. These rules:

• Decreased the recreational aggregate bag limit for grouper from 5 fish to 3 fish,

• Established a January-April shallow-water grouper closed season (gag, black, red, scamp, rock hind, red hind, coney, graysby, yellowfin, yellowmouth and tiger grouper) for all recreational and commercial harvesters,

• Required persons fishing for snapper-grouper species to possess and use a dehooking device as needed to remove hooks from fish with minimal damage, and

• Established a zero grouper bag limit for captain and crew of charter vessels and headboats.

• Charter and headboats that hold federal snapper-grouper permits are required to abide by federal rules, even in state waters.

The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) is considering new rules for red snapper in Atlantic federal waters that would prohibit all bottom fishing for snapper and grouper in certain areas off Florida’s East Coast.

The SAFMC is expected to take a final vote on the permanent red snapper rules included in Snapper-Grouper Amendment 17A at its June meeting in Orlando.

GULF Red Snapper

Current red snapper regulations in effect for all Gulf waters (state and federal) include: A recreational bag limit of 2 fish per person and the captain and crew of for-hire vessels (i.e., charter boats) are prohibited from harvesting red snapper.

The open harvest season in both state and federal waters is currently June 1 through Aug. 14. However, the 2010 open season in Gulf federal waters is expected to open June 1 and last for just 51-60 days.

NOAA Fisheries Service is expected to announce the dates for the 2010 federal red snapper season next month. The FWC will discuss the possibility of making the state red snapper season consistent with the new federal season at its April 28-29 meeting in the Tallahassee area.

ATLANTIC RED SNAPPER

(updated March 11, 2010)

Under a current temporary rule (effective until June 2, 2010), all recreational and commercial harvest of red snapper in Atlantic federal waters is prohibited. The rule is expected to be extended for another 6 months.

The SAFMC is in the process of developing new permanent rules (Amendment 17A), which include closing down a large area (from 98 to 240 feet deep) off the Florida and Georgia coast to bottom fishing.

At its March meeting, the SAFMC moved the preferred closure area to extend from the northern tip of Georgia to slightly south of Melbourne, Fla. It would prohibit the harvest of all snapper-grouper species by closing down all bottom fishing.

A new red snapper stock assessment will be available by December, but the SAFMC is expected to take action at its June 7-11, 2010 meeting in Orlando, Fla. to approve the proposed rule (Amendment 17A).

NOAA Fisheries is accepting comments on Amendment 17A until April 19, 2010.

Vermilion Snapper

The following rules are effective in state and federal waters of the Atlantic Ocean:

• Recreational bag limit of 5 fish per harvester per day,

• A November 1 through March 31 seasonal closure for recreational fishers, and

• Captain and crew of for-hire vessels are prohibited from keeping vermilion snapper.

• Recreational and commercial fishers in Atlantic waters off Florida are required to use dehooking devices when fishing for reef fish, including vermilion snapper.

Gray Triggerfish

(updated Jan. 1, 2010)

Minimum size is 14 inches fork length in Gulf waters and 12 inches in Atlantic waters. No bag limit.

Greater Amberjack

The recreational harvest of greater amberjack from federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico opened on Jan. 1. The National Marine Fisheries Service closed the recreational harvest of amberjack in Gulf waters on Oct. 24, 2009 because an annual recreational harvest quota had been met. Recreational anglers may keep one greater amberjack of at least 30 inches fork length daily per person in Gulf waters off Florida. The fish must be landed in a whole condition. Atlantic Coast anglers are allowed one per day with a 28-inch minimum fork length.

Snook, bonefish, Tarpon

In response to cold-weather fish kills that occurred statewide in early 2010, the FWC issued executive orders to protect snook, bonefish and tarpon stocks while the impacts of fish kills are evaluated.

Effective April 1, 2010:

• Harvest and possession of bonefish and tarpon from state and federal waters off Florida will re-open after being prohibited through March 31, 2010.

• Harvest and possession of snook from state and federal waters is prohibited through Aug. 31, 2010 or until further notice. Catch and release of snook is still permitted.

Spotted Seatrout

Speckled trout season is now open in all state waters after a Feb.-March closure in the Northeast and Northwest regions. Trout season is closed in November-December in the South Region. Minimum size limit is 15” and anglers are allowed one fish over 20” statewide. Bag limit is 5 per day in the NE and NW regions and 4 per day in the South Region.

Redfish

Limit one per day. Slot limit 18”-27”.