FWC approves draft proposal to protect fish spawning aggregations

At its December meeting, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved a draft proposal to protect fish spawning aggregations near an area known as Western Dry Rocks.

Western Dry Rocks, which is about 10 miles south of Key West, is an important spawning location for many recreationally and commercially important species such as snapper, grouper and permit. It is also a popular fishing location.

If approved at the February 2021 meeting, proposed changes would prohibit all fishing from May through June in a 1-square-mile area near Western Dry Rocks. Staff will also be evaluating whether to extend the closure to four months.

Staff will gather additional public input on this proposal by hosting workshops in early 2021.

The protection of spawning aggregations, in combination with traditional management approaches (e.g., size limits, bag limits and vessel limits), represents a comprehensive conservation strategy aimed at sustaining and enhancing fish populations. A seasonal no-fishing closure at Western Dry Rocks would provide added protections for multiple species of spawning fishes while allowing fishing access for the remaining 10 months of the year.

To learn more about workshops or to comment on this topic, visit MyFWC.com/SaltwaterComments.