Information: The FWC Commission discussed several marine fisheries management items Sept. 8 at the meeting in St. Augustine.
Federal fishery management update
Spiny lobster bully net fishery, draft rule expected at November meeting
Red drum: Daily bag limit of 1 fish in NW management zone adopted and currently in effect.
Red snapper: Recreational season in Gulf state waters extended due to effects of Hurricane Hermine. New dates include Nov. 5-6, 11-12, and 25-27.
Mutton snapper: Modifications to the recreational and commercial size, bag and trip limits effective Jan. 1.
Black sea bass: Recreational daily bag limit increased from 5 to 7 fish per person in Atlantic state waters to match new federal waters bag limit. Line marking requirements that are consistent with pending federal rules set for Atlantic commercial fishery. Effective date to be determined.
Atlantic gray triggerfish: Recreational and commercial minimum size limit set to 12 inches fork length in Atlantic state waters only; statewide importation and sale minimum size limit set to 12 inches FL; and the recreational daily bag limit set to 10 fish per person in Atlantic state waters. Already in effect.
Gulf greater amberjack: Recreational season closed Sept. 10 through Dec. 31, 2016, in Gulf state waters.
St. Lucie County: Outdated regulations that apply only in St. Lucie County will be removed. Effective date to be determined.
Commercial Saltwater License Forms: Stone crab and lobster trap tag replacement and trap certificate transfer forms updated along with a form related to an exemption to the RS qualifications to reflect the latest, more user-friendly versions developed by FWC.
Information: More than 14,000 lionfish were removed from Florida waters as the Lionfish Challenge came to a closeSept. 30. Final numbers will be announced soon along with the winner, who will be crowned Florida’s Lionfish King or Queen at the November Commission meeting. The Lionfish Challenge rewarded participants for removing 50 or more lionfish between Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day (May 14, 2016) and the end of September.
Action: Recreational and commercial season opens Oct. 15in state and federal waters
Only the claws may be harvested
Although it is currently lawful to harvest both of a stone crab's claws, this practice leaves the stone crab with few ways to defend itself from predators. FWC encourages people to only take a single claw.
Claws must be 2 ¾ inches to be harvested
Recreational bag limit: 1 gallon of claws per person, 2 gallons per vessel, whichever is less
Harvest of claws from females with eggs is prohibited
May 16: Season closes
Cannot use any device that can puncture, crush or injure the crab body
Recreational harvesters may use up to 5 stone crab traps per person
Trap throat (entrance) must be no larger than 5 ½” x 3 1/8” in Collier, Monroe and Miami-Dade counties. In all other counties, entrances can be no larger than 5 ½” x 3 ½”. Round entrances can be no more than 5 inches in diameter.
Round trap entrances are not allowed in Collier, Monroe and Miami-Dade counties
Recreational harvest in state waters continues through October, days added in November
Information: The recreational red snapper season in Gulf state waters continues to remain open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through October, and additional days were added to the season in November to offset the effects of Hurricane Hermine.
Additional open season days include Nov. 5-6, 11-12, and 25-27.
The daily bag limit is two fish per person within the 10-snapper aggregate bag limit. The minimum size limit is 16 inches total length. The season is not open in Gulf federal waters.
Program in 7-county region focuses on lionfish removal
Information: For every 100 lionfish harvested from Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Bay, Gulf and Franklin counties, between May 2016 and May 2017, the harvester will be eligible to receive a tag allowing them to take either an extra legal-sized red grouper or cobia over the bag limit from state waters. The state will issue up to 100 red grouper and 30 cobia tags in total to successful participants in the pilot program. In addition, the first 10 persons or groups that harvest 500 or more lionfish during this one-year period will be given the opportunity to name an artificial reef.
The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council will meet October 17-20, 2016, at the IP Casino Hotel in Biloxi, Mississippi. The meeting will convene Monday morning at 8:30. For the following days, the meeting will start at 8:00 am. The full Council will convene Wednesday afternoon beginning at 1:00 pm. The Council is expected to adjourn by 3:30 pmThursday.
Public comment is scheduled Wednesday from 2:45 pm to 5:30 pm. Testimony will be taken on the following:
Final Action on Coastal Migratory Pelagic Framework Amendment 5: To Remove the Prohibition on Retaining the Recreational King Mackerel Bag Limit with Commercial King Mackerel Permit
Final Action of Referendum Requirements for Reef Fish Amendment 42: Reef Fish Management for Headboat Survey Vessels
Proposed Fishing Regulations on the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary
Final Action on Coastal Migratory Pelagic Amendment 30: Atlantic Cobia Recreational Fishing Year
Council meetings are open to the public and are broadcast live over the internet. Register for thewebinar here or call 888-833-1844.
The Council will host a Post Council Wrap-Up Webinar to review the Council meeting. Join us at 6:00 p.m. ESTWednesday, October 26, for a quick presentation followed by a question and answer session.Register for the webinar here.
About the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council
The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council is one of eight regional Fishery Management Councils established by the Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976. The Council prepares fishery management plans, which are designed to manage fishery resources within the 200-mile limit of the Gulf of Mexico.
Submit comments and stay updated on fishery issues:
Check it out! Go to www.gulfcouncil.org and click on the thermometer in the middle of the page. From there you can read up on all the pending actions, watch the video presentations, read comments, and submit your own. All comments submitted through the online form are automatically posted on our web site for Council review. Other comments are manually posted every couple of days.
Graham Requests FEMA Expand Assistance to Rural Counties
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following a disaster declaration by President Barack Obama, Representative Gwen Graham is asking the Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator to extend individual assistance aid to Franklin, Taylor and Wakulla counties. As of today, Leon is the only county in the Second Congressional District eligible for individual assistance.
“I’m working to make sure all North Florida families affected by the storm receive the aid they deserve,” Rep. Graham said. “While some rural counties are still under federal review, I’m hopeful FEMA will expedite our request to expand aid to Franklin, Taylor and Wakulla.”
Earlier in the day, Rep. Graham issued the following statement in reaction to the president’s disaster declaration:
“I thank President Obama for recognizing the impact Hurricane Hermine had on North Florida. Our community rallied together to help each other through the storm and its aftermath – and the federal assistance stemming from this declaration will help us continue to recover,” Representative Graham said. “I’ve made constituent services a top priority since day one, and my office is prepared to help North Florida families and businesses cut through any red tape to access this new aid.”
Text of Representative Graham’s letter to FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate is below:
September 28, 2016
The Honorable W. Craig Fugate
Federal Emergency Management Agency
500 C Street, SW
Washington, DC 20024
Dear Administrator Fugate:
I write today regarding the recent issuance of a major disaster declaration for the State of Florida triggering the release of federal funds to help people and communities recover from Hurricane Hermine that occurred August 31 to September 11, 2016.
In addition to the counties included in the initial September 28 declaration, Governor Rick Scott included Franklin, Taylor, and Wakulla counties for individual assistance. As you continue to make designations for all affected counties, I encourage you to expedite these requests so that people can get the assistance they need.
Floridians are still cleaning up from this disaster – people in counties that were included in the initial designation and those in counties still under federal review. It is important to all of us that all designations are made as quickly as possible. Thank you for your commitment to get this done.