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FWC will make changes in SW Florida catch-and-release area 

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will make changes to snook, redfish and spotted seatrout management in the area of southwest Florida where they are currently catch-and-release only.

As a reminder, snook, redfish and spotted seatrout were temporarily made catch-and-release only in this area after these fisheries were impacted by a 2017-2019 severe red tide.

Starting June 1, 2021, the following changes will take place:

Pasco County and Tampa Bay:
Normal regulations will resume for snook, redfish and spotted seatrout in all state waters in Pasco County, Pinellas County and Tampa Bay.
These regulations are for all state waters north of State Road 64 in Manatee County plus the Braden River but not including Palma Sola Bay.
Sarasota Bay through Gordon Pass in Collier County:
Snook and redfish will remain catch-and-release through May 31, 2022.
Spotted seatrout harvest will resume with a six-fish recreational vessel limit. Commercial harvesters will also be held to the recreational three-fish bag and six-fish vessel limits.
These regulations are for all state waters south of State Road 64 in Manatee County including Palma Sola Bay through Gordon Pass in Collier County but not including the Braden River or any tributaries of the Manatee River.
The current catch-and-release measures for snook, redfish and spotted seatrout in all waters from Pasco County through Gordon Pass in Collier County remain in effect through May 31, 2021.

“The Commission understands the significance and importance of this fishery for the southwest region. You can hear a lot of diversity in the public stakeholder positions on this issue but I think we found the right path as an interim step,” said FWC Vice Chairman Mike Sole. “It is going to be important though, in my opinion, to consider long-term management of snook and redfish.”

Under normal regulations, snook will open to harvest on Sept. 1, and seatrout will be under new, more restrictive regulations that took effect in 2020.

A new statewide stock assessment was just completed for snook and one will be completed for redfish in 2021. The Commission might consider statewide regulation changes as part of the long-term management of these fisheries.

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 “May 12-13, 2021.”