FWC approves draft changes to spotted seatrout rules

FWC approves draft changes to spotted seatrout rules

■ STAFF REPORT

At its recent meeting in Cape Canaveral, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved several draft rule changes for spotted seatrout.

Based on public comments at the meeting, the FWC also directed staff to continue considering public input and update the proposal as needed prior to bringing this back at a future meeting for final approval.

Approved draft changes include:

  • Splitting the Northwest spotted seatrout management zone into two separate zones, including the Western Panhandle (Escambia County through most of Gulf County, not including Indian Pass/Indian Lagoon) and the Big Bend (Franklin County plus Indian Lagoon, through Fred Howard Park Causeway in Pinellas County).
  • Moving the boundary between the Southern management zones to create the newly renamed South Florida zone (Fred Howard Park Causeway in Pinellas County near the Pasco County line through Broward County) and Central East zone (Palm Beach through Volusia counties).
  • Reducing bag limits:

 Western Panhandle: five to three fish

 Big Bend: five to four fish

South Florida: four to three fish

 Central East: four to two fish

Northeast: six to five fish

  • Modifying the recreational slot size limit from 15-to-20 inches to 15-to-19 inches total length.
  • Allowing one seatrout over 19 inches per vessel (currently, per harvester).
  • Changing the current daily commercial limits to 50 per harvester and 100 per vessel.
  • Prohibiting captain and crew from keeping a bag limit on a for-hire trip.
  • Re-establishing the February recreational closure in the Western Panhandle zone and the November- December recreational closure in the Central East zone.

Staff will bring a final proposal to a future Commission meeting that will incorporate public feedback gathered at today’s meeting and through other input gathering processes.

You can provide online comments about these draft changes at MyFWC.com/SaltwaterComments.