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May 10, 2012

Florida Regulations Updates

Seasonal information for snapper , grouper and roundscale spearfish

In the up and coming June issue of Salt Water Sportsman Capt. Dave Lear details red snapper fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. At press time, Florida state bag limits and season for 2012 had not been finalized, as noted in his article: now they have.The recreational red snapper season in Gulf of Mexico in Florida waters s will be June 1 through July 10, a total of 40 days. Florida state waters in the Gulf extend out to nine nautical miles from shore; federal waters extend beyond that line.The state season coincides with the recently announced federal recreational red snapper season. The Florida season will remain as announced, regardless of whether the federal season is altered this year. For more go to www.MyFWC.com/Fishing.

Atlantic Grouper Opens
Florida state waters of the Atlantic, including Monroe County, opened for grouper fishing on May 1, when the Species included in the recreational opening are gag, black, red, yellowmouth, yellowfin and tiger grouper; scamp; red hind; rock hind; coney; and graysby. State waters in the Atlantic extend from shore to three miles out.The season for these species of grouper remains open through the end of 2012. Recreational bag limit is maximum of three grouper per angler per day, only one of which may be a gag or a black grouper, not both. The captain and crew ofcharter vessels are not allowed to keep any grouper. Dehooking tools are required to be aboard all fishing boats.

Spearfish or Marlin?
Genetic testing of billfish tournament entries along the Atlantic has shown that shows that about 19 percent of tournament-winning white marlin was actually roundscale spearfish. However,this species, unlike the white for which it is commonly mistaken, has been protected in Florida state waters. Essentially 19 percent of landed tournament fish were taken illegally, due to misidentification. That will no longer be a concern: changes in Florida law now include the addition of a one-fish limit of round scale spearfish to the one-billfish bag and possession limit and the creation of a 66-inch minimum size limit when measured from the lower jaw to the fork of the tail.The best way to tell the difference between a white marlin and a roundscale spearfish is to measure the distance between the front edge of the anal fin and the vent. As, the distance between the anal fin and the vent is longer on a roundscale spearfish than it is on a comparable white marlin.The scales in the middle of the roundscale’s body are coarser in texture than those of a white marlin. For more information, go to www.MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Regulations” and “Highly Migratory Species” to learn more.