The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved several mutton snapper management changes at the September meeting in St. Augustine.
Changes will go into effect Jan. 1, 2017, and include:
Increasing the recreational, commercial, importation and sale minimum size limits to 18 inches.
Reducing the recreational bag limit to five fish per person within the 10-fish snapper aggregate bag limit.
Replacing the May through June commercial trip limit in all state waters with a five-fish per person, per day limit from April through June in Atlantic state waters.
Establishing a 500-pound commercial trip limit for the remainder of the year (July through March) in Atlantic state waters.
Public input from several workshops in February and August 2016 was considered by the FWC when making these changes. The Commission discussed but did not pursue special management actions for Western Dry Rocks, a well-known and popular mutton snapper spawning area southwest of Key West.
Though mutton snapper is not overfished or undergoing overfishing, the 2015 stock assessment indicated that the population is smaller than previously estimated. These regulation changes are intended to prevent exceeding the updated federal quota, or number of fish that can be harvested, and to also avoid potential early season closures.
To learn more, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater Fishing,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Snappers.”