At its November meeting in St. Petersburg, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) set new barracuda size limits.
These changes will apply in state and federal waters off Collier, Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Martin counties only and include:
Creating a recreational and commercial slot limit of 15 to 36 inches fork length.
Allowing the harvest of one fish larger than 36 inches per person or vessel per day, whichever is less.
“I’m grateful to south Florida stakeholders for bringing this item forward and to staff’s efforts in gathering public input on this important Florida species so that these reasonable management actions could be taken today,” said Commissioner Robert Spottswood.
In recent years, stakeholders in southeast Florida and the Florida Keys who fish and dive have voiced concerns about seeing declines in barracuda numbers.
Barracuda data is limited due to their complex life history and behaviors; however, there has been a declining trend in the number of barracuda observed during underwater surveys conducted in the Keys in recent years, as well as a declining trend in the average size of those barracuda.
A slot limit will contribute to barracuda conservation by eliminating harvest pressure on the youngest, most vulnerable fish while also conserving larger fish, which are responsible for the vast majority of reproduction.
The FWC also addressed concerns for this species in 2015 when they set recreational and commercial bag limits for barracuda in south Florida.
Staff will continue to monitor barracuda through data collected during FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute underwater surveys, and ongoing recreational and commercial catch data collection. Recreational anglers can report their catches using data-reporting programs like the Snook and Gamefish Foundation’s iAngler app and Angler Action website.
For more information on these changes, visit MyFWC.com/Commission and select “Commission Meetings” then click on the link below “Next Meeting.”
For information on barracuda, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater Fishing,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Barracuda.”