The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved several draft amendments for spotted seatrout regulations on Thursday that would open recreational harvest year-round and expand commercial fishing opportunities.
The FWC has managed spotted seatrout for more than 20 years to help rebuild overfished populations. A 2010 stock assessment of spotted seatrout in Florida indicated that the annual management goals for spotted seatrout are consistently being exceeded across the state.
As a result, the FWC is proposing to increase fishing opportunities for spotted seatrout in Florida. The proposal would open current recreational closed months by removing the current February closure in North Florida (Flagler through Nassau counties and Pasco through Escambia counties) and the November-through-December closure in South Florida (Volusia through Pinellas counties), allowing spotted seatrout to be harvested year-round in all areas of Florida.
In addition, Commissioners asked staff to look into increasing the recreational bag limit in the Northeast Region, increasing the commercial fishing season from three months to five months, allowing sale of seatrout inventory for 30 days after the commercial season closes, and creating a vessel limit of 150 seatrout when two licensed commercial fishermen are on board.
A final public hearing on the proposed spotted seatrout rules will occur during the November FWC meeting in Key Largo.
More information regarding the FWC’s spotted seatrout draft rule is available in the online agenda at www.MyFWC.com/Commission. A final public hearing on these rule proposals will take place at the FWC’s meeting in November.