News from FWC Meeting
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) met the first week of February in Clearwater, Florida and took action on a number of proposals that will affect panhandle anglers in 2017.
At the top of the agenda was red snapper and the commissioners approved a draft rule to set the 2017 Florida Gulf of Mexico state waters recreational red snapper season. The proposed season, if approved at the April meeting in Tallahassee, would be 78 days in total.
It will be open Saturdays and Sundays in May starting on May 6. On May 27, the season will open continuously through July 9. Finally, the season would reopen for Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in September and October, and on Labor Day.
Florida state waters in the Gulf of Mexico are from shore to nine nautical miles out and are managed by the FWC. Federal waters extend from where state waters end, out to about two hundred nautical miles and are managed by NOAA Fisheries.
NOAA Fisheries also met recently in New Orleans, but there was very little conversation regarding the 2017 private recreational anglers season. The 2016 Gulf of Mexico federal waters red snapper season was originally set at nine days, but it was extended two more days making it a total of eleven after a tropical storm kept anglers off the water.
Triggerfish has been another hot topic at fishery meetings after NOAA Fisheries announced that there would be no 2017 recreational season and the FWC followed suit. Luckily, at last week’s meeting they discussed the potential for a limited fall season in Florida state waters.
At the request of stakeholders, the FWC approved a July 25 through September 10 recreational bay scallop season off Gulf County, including all waters in St. Joseph Bay and those west of St. Vincent Island in Franklin County.
A prolonged red tide event in late 2015 negatively impacted the scallop population in St. Joseph Bay, which led to modified local scallop regulations for 2016 that included a shortened season and reduced bag limits.
Bag and vessel limits throughout the entire bay scallop harvest zone will be two gallons’ whole bay scallops in shell, or one pint of bay scallop meat per person with a maximum of 10 gallons of whole bay scallops in shell, or a 1/2 gallon bay scallop meat per vessel.
The FWC staff is interested in hearing more from the public on the management of the states fishery. To submit your comments, visit myfwc.com/saltwatercomments.