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March 25, 2013

Bonefish, Tarpon to be Catch and Release Only?

Upcoming Florida workshops will discuss changing current bonefish and tarpon rules.

Three workshops and a webinar, held by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), are scheduled in early April to discuss if bonefish and tarpon should be catch-and-release only in Florida's waters. The purpose of these workshops is to solicit public input on possible changes to the Commission's current tarpon and bonefish rules.

Specifically, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will be gathering public comments on a proposal to make these top gamefish species no-take-only throughout Florida's state and federal waters.

At present, bonefish are catch and release only except for an exemption for tournaments that allows for retention of bonefish in a live-well for transport to a weigh-in station. The new draft regulations would remove that exemption, meaning that all bonefish would have to be released at the site of capture (temporarily possessing a fish for weighing, photography, scientific sampling would be OK).

At present, up to two tarpon can be harvested per day if an angler possesses a Tarpon Tag (cost = $50). The new draft regulations would make tarpon entirely catch and release, with the exception of harvesting a fish for an IGFA World Record. Tarpon could be temporarily possessed for photographs, measuring, scientific sampling, and must be released at the site of capture. In the future, the cost of the harvest tag might be increased to help pay for tarpon research and to deter illicit use of the tag.

Other possible provisions of the proposal include limiting the fishing gears allowed for use when targeting tarpon to hook and line only; creating stricter reporting requirements for any tarpon tag purchased; and extending existing and proposed tarpon regulations into federal waters. Again, it's important to say, the proposal includes an allowance for temporary possession of both tarpon and bonefish for the purposes of photography, measurement, weighing, or collecting scientific samples.

Workshop Calendar

DATE AND TIME: April 1, 2013, 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. (EDT)

  • PLACE: Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, 100 Eighth Ave. S.E., Karen A. Steidinger Auditorium, St. Petersburg, FL 33701

DATE AND TIME: April 2, 2013, 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. (EDT)

  • PLACE: IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame and Museum, 300 Gulf Stream Way, Dania Beach, FL 33004

DATE AND TIME: April 3, 2013, 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. (EDT)

  • PLACE: City of Key Colony Beach - City Hall Building, City Hall, Auditorium, Mile Marker 53.5, 600 W. Ocean Drive, Key Colony Beach, FL 33051

DATE AND TIME: April 8, 2013, 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. (EDT) (5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. CDT)