The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) on Wednesday proposed a draft rule that would raise the recreational daily red drum bag limit from one fish to two per person in northern Florida. In addition, the FWC is proposing to create three regional management areas for red drum and establish a statewide eight-fish red drum daily vessel limit. The Commission also intends to develop ways to modify the red drum off-the-water possession limit.
"We've come a long way since the early 1990s, when red drum stocks were largely depleted, but the management of red drum in Florida is turning out to be a success story," said Commissioner Kathy Barco. "The fishery is holding its own in southern Florida, and numbers of red drum in northern parts of the state are now at a point where it's safe to give back some fish to anglers."
The FWC has strictly managed red drum (also called redfish, channel bass and red bass) for more than 20 years to help rebuild overfished populations. A 2008 FWC stock assessment indicates that annual management goals for red drum are consistently being exceeded in areas of northeastern and northwestern Florida.
As a result, the FWC is proposing establishment of three management areas for red drum in Florida (which are the same as established management areas for spotted seatrout) to better target its management approaches for this popular Florida fish. In all waters in the northwest management area (Escambia through Pasco counties) and in the northeast management area (Flagler through Nassau counties), the FWC proposal would raise the daily recreational bag limit for red drum from one fish to two.
The Commission is also proposing a statewide eight fish daily vessel limit for red drum, and will consider management options regarding ways to modify the off-the-water red drum possession limit.
More information regarding the FWC's red drum draft rule proposals is available online at MyFWC.com/Commission, linked from the Feb. 23-24 meeting agenda, and a final public hearing on these rule proposals will take place in April.