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New protections for fish spawning aggregations near Western Dry Rocks

Starting April 1, new protections for multi-species fish spawning aggregations near an area known as Western Dry Rocks go into effect. This includes the prohibition of all fishing from April through July in a 1-square-mile area near Western Dry Rocks.

This area is bounded by

24°26.217’N, 81°57.007’W
24°25.676’N, 81°57.002’W
24°25.686’N, 81°55.489’W
24°26.227’N, 81°55.493’W

“This science-based recommendation has been endorsed by many of our major fishing and conservation groups: the American Sportfishing Association, Coastal Conservation Association, Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, International Game Fish Association, Lower Keys Guides Association, Wild Oceans and the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation,” said FWC Chairman Rodney Barreto.

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

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 provides added protections for multiple species of spawning fishes while allowing fishing access for the remaining eight months of the year.