FWC wants your input on snook, redfish and spotted seatrout in SW Florida

At its February meeting, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) directed staff to gather public input on the future management of snook, redfish and spotted seatrout in the area of southwest Florida where they are currently catch-and-release only. This came after the Commission received a staff review of the latest Fish and Wildlife Research Institute monitoring data and listened to public input on snook, redfish and spotted seatrout in southwest Florida.

“We know this is an important issue to this region of Florida and, because of that, I will be working with staff to set up ways to gather continued input from recreational anglers and the fishing guide community,” said FWC Executive Director Eric Sutton.

“We have a responsibility for managing these species for all stakeholders,” said Vice Chairman Mike Sole. “It really is going to be a combination of looking at the science and listening to our stakeholders to determine how we can best manage the resources for all.”

“We need to listen to everyone,” said FWC Chairman Rodney Barreto. “I want recreational anglers to feel like their voice is important.

Beginning in August 2018, the FWC made a series of temporary regulation changes to help conserve snook, redfish and spotted seatrout that were negatively impacted by a prolonged red tide that occurred in late 2017 through early 2019. Ultimately, these popular inshore species were made catch-and-release only in all waters from Pasco County through Gordon Pass in Collier County through May 31, 2021.

Long-term monitoring data indicate snook, redfish, and spotted seatrout were resilient and did not experience long-term negative effects from the 2017-2019 red tide. However, anglers and charter captains have expressed concerns that these fisheries had declined prior to red tide and that the red tide affected habitat that is essential to these species.

FWC staff will continue gathering public input both online at MyFWC.com/SaltwaterComments and through public workshops, which will be scheduled in the future. To learn more about future workshops, visit MyFWC.com/Marine and click on “Rulemaking” and “Upcoming Public Workshops.”

FWC will revisit this topic at the May 12-13, 2021, meeting. Additionally, staff will provide updates to Commissioners after stock assessments for snook and redfish throughout Florida are complete later in 2021. These stock assessments, along with stakeholder input, will help staff and the Commission evaluate whether any long-term management changes are needed in the future.

Learn more about regulations for these species by visiting MyFWC.com/Marine and clicking on “Recreational Regulations.”

View the Commission meeting presentation at MyFWC.com/Commission by clicking on “Commission Meetings” and the agenda under “February 25-26, 2021.”