FWC gives more protection to permit
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) took final action Thursday on several rule amendments to further enhance and protect Florida’s permit fishery, while also strengthening management of the Florida pompano and African pompano fisheries.
The FWC extended the current regulations in Florida waters for these species into adjacent federal waters. Federal waters extend beyond nine nautical miles from shore in the Gulf of Mexico and three miles from shore in the Atlantic Ocean. This will give permit, Florida pompano and African pompano more protection and increase the enforceability of our current rules. Previously, there were no regulations regarding the harvest of permit, Florida pompano or African pompano in these adjacent federal waters.
In addition, the new rules separate the management strategies for the three species and create two new management areas for the harvest of permit. In South Florida and the Florida Keys, permit is largely a trophy and catch-and-release fishery. In other areas of Florida, anglers catch permit from the shore and more often keep them as a food fish.
To better manage permit for these different uses, the FWC created a Special Permit Zone, which includes all state and federal waters south of a line running due east from Cape Florida and south of a line running due west from Cape Sable. The remainder of the state (north of these lines) makes up another management zone.
In the Special Permit Zone, the commercial harvest of permit will be prohibited. In this zone the recreational fishery has a minimum size limit of 22 inches fork length and a daily bag limit of one permit per person and two per vessel. Also, recreational anglers are allowed to use only hook-and-line gear, except that spearing for permit is allowed in federal waters in the zone. Additionally, a May, June and July harvest closure applies in this area.
Outside this zone, a recreational slot size for permit of 11-22 inches fork length and a daily bag limit of two fish per person applies, with an allowance for one permit over 22 inches in length. A vessel limit of two permit larger than 22 inches in length also applies. Also, recreational anglers are allowed to use only hook-and-line gear for permit, except that spearing for permit is allowed in federal waters. No commercial harvest for permit is allowed, however, commercial fishers who are targeting other species with nets outside of the Special Permit Zone are allowed an incidental bycatch trip limit of 250 fish.
In addition, the rules:
§ extend current FWC Florida pompano recreational and commercial gear regulations and commercial trip and size limits into federal waters;
§ maintain the Florida pompano recreational minimum size limit of 11 inches fork length;
§ eliminate the 20-inch Florida pompano maximum size limit for recreational harvest; and
§ maintain the recreational daily bag limit of six Florida pompano per person (no longer an aggregate limit with permit).
Current FWC African pompano recreational size and bag limits also were extended into federal waters, and spearfishing for African pompano is allowed in federal waters.
The new permit, pompano and African pompano rules approved by the FWC take effect on Aug. 31. For more information regarding permit, pompano and African pompano, go to MyFWC.com/Fishing.