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FWC UPDATES: Possible flounder fishery changes

News Herald Staff Reports
The News Herald

Greater amberjack reopens

The recreational harvest of greater amberjack reopened in Gulf state and federal waters Aug. 1. This season is scheduled to remain open through Oct. 31.

If you plan to fish for greater amberjack in state or federal waters from a private recreational vessel (which includes anglers over 65 years of age), you must sign up as a State Reef Fish Angler prior to your fishing trip. If you are already a Gulf Reef Fish Angler, your Gulf designation meets the new statewide requirement until it expires.

To learn more about the no-cost designation, visit MyFWC.com/SRFS. Sign up today at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com. Annual renewal is required.

To learn more about regulations for greater amberjack, visit MyFWC.com/Marine and click on “Recreational Regulations” and “Greater Amberjack,” which is under the “Reef Fish” tab.

Flounder fishery changes

At its July Commission meeting, the FWC approved draft changes to the management of Florida’s flounder fishery. These changes will be brought back to the Commission in October for final consideration.

A stock status update 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. Other states have also reported declines in flounder populations and have been making their own regulation changes, according to a release from FWC.

FWC has been working with stakeholders to gather input on this fishery through workshops, online commenting and more. Draft rule changes include:

– Increase minimum size limit from 12 inches to 14 inches total length (recreational and commercial);

– Reduce recreational bag limit from 10 to five fish per person;

– Establish a November closure (recreational);

– Establish a commercial trip and vessel limit of 150 flounder when using allowable gear for all months outside of November;

– Establish a November commercial trip and vessel limit of 50 pounds when using allowable gear; and,

– Extend all FWC flounder regulations into federal waters.

The Commission also directed staff to continue working with the industry on flounder bycatch in federal waters. To share input on this draft proposal or to see more about what items the FWC Division of Marine Fisheries Management is working on, visit MyFWC.com/SaltwaterComments. Learn more about flounder regulations at MyFWC.com/Marine.