The breeding of lionfish will be prohibited starting Nov. 26. This change is one of the many steps the state has taken recently to help control the lionfish population. Lionfish are an invasive species that have a negative impact on native fish and habitat.
These changes were developed in coordination with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and include:
- Prohibiting the harvest and possession of lionfish eggs and larvae for any purpose other than destruction;
- Prohibiting the intentional breeding of lionfish in captivity.
A scientific-research exception will allow research institutions permitted by the FWC to breed and cultivate lionfish for the purposes of researching population control and impact mitigation.
Importation of live lionfish into Florida was prohibited Aug. 1. The FWC encourages divers and anglers to remove lionfish whenever they can.
To learn more about lionfish, visit MyFWC.com/Lionfish.
At its meeting in Key Largo on Nov. 20, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved lowering of the red grouper recreational bag limit from four to two fish per person in Gulf of Mexico state waters, excluding Monroe County.
The Commission hopes that this change will mean an increase in the length of the recreational red grouper season in federal waters, which closed early this year because the recreational catch limit was exceeded in 2013. A two-fish bag limit was initially requested by Florida anglers and for-hire captains to help maximize fishing opportunities for red grouper, especially during late fall.
This change would make state regulations consistent with similar pending regulations in Gulf federal waters. Assuming the two-fish bag limit is finalized in federal waters, the state change will go into effect beginning Jan. 1, 2015.
To learn more, visit MyFWC.com/Commission and click on “Commission Meetings” then find the topic in the agenda. To learn more about red grouper, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Gulf Grouper.”
The recreational harvest season for snook closes Dec. 1 in Gulf state and federal waters, including Monroe County and Everglades National Park, and will remain closed through Feb. 28, 2015, reopening to harvest March 1, 2015. Snook can continue to be caught and released during the closed season.
This and other regular season closures are designed to help protect the species during vulnerable times such as cold weather. Atlantic state and federal waters, including Lake Okeechobee and the Kissimmee River, will close Dec. 15 this year through Jan. 31, 2015, reopening to harvest Feb. 1, 2015.
Visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater Fishing” and “Recreational Regulations” for more information on snook.
All year long, residents and visitors to Florida can step outside and find places to watch and photograph wildlife as they hike beaches and trails, steer a boat along rivers and coastlines, fish clear waters, or hunt game in one of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) wildlife management areas.
This holiday season, the FWC hopes people will consider gifts that will make a difference in conservation of Florida’s wildlife and help pass along great outdoors experiences to future generations.
On this checklist are gifts that should please almost anyone who appreciates Florida wildlife:
- Vehicle license plates supporting Florida wildlife and habitats, including “Protect the Panther,” “Conserve Wildlife,” “Helping Sea Turtles Survive,” “Save the Manatee” and “Go Fishing.” Available at local county tax collectors’ offices, with more information at BuyaPlate.com.
- Colorful FWC manatee decals and sea turtle decals to stick on boats, bikes, backpacks, guitar cases or computers. Available for a $5 donation at local county tax collectors’ offices, with more options to order at MyFWC.com/Manatee or MyFWC.com/SeaTurtle.
- A Florida fishing license or hunting license purchased online at License.MyFWC.com or in stores. There are licenses for residents and visitors, including a youth Gold Sportsman’s License good until a child turns 17 that locks in the price and gives a young person bragging rights as a card-carrying sportsman.
- A Lifetime Sportsman License for Florida children and young adults covering hunting, and freshwater and saltwater fishing. The license is available at a greatly reduced cost of $500 (plus processing fees) from now through Dec. 31, 2014. Gov. Rick Scott in mid-November signed an executive order authorizing the FWC to make this temporary fee reduction. The lifetime license can be purchased for state residents ages 5 to 21 online, by calling 888-347-4356 or at local tax collectors’ offices across the state.
- Florida wildlife T-shirts, sweatshirts, art or other gifts available at WildlifeFlorida.com. Strut apparel featuring your favorite species!
- A personal floatation device, also known as a life jacket, to give someone you care about a safe boating experience. A newer model, such as an inflatable belt pack or suspender-style life jacket, could replace an older, bulkier life jacket.
- Registration of a family member or friend with TrophyCatchFlorida.com, along with the gift of a scale to weigh fish. Just registering that person makes him or her eligible for a drawing for a bass boat, and any time the angler takes a photo of an 8-pound or larger bass and submits it according to TrophyCatch rules, the reward will be at least $100 in gift cards, club shirts, decals and certificates.
Find gifts for people who love the outdoors at MyFWC.com by clicking on “Get Involved” and then “Support FWC.”
Watch the “Unconventional Holiday Gifts from FWC” video on YouTube’s Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission channel.
Do you think you have what it takes to catch a new and improved Saltwater Grand Slam? The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is rolling out nine new Grand Slams this Saturday, Nov. 29, which is also the last Saltwater License Free Fishing day of 2014. The requirement to have a saltwater recreational fishing license when fishing for saltwater species is waived for Florida residents and visitors on license-free fishing days.
Catch any of our new Saltwater Grand Slams on Nov. 29 and share a photograph collage of your catches on Instagram or Twitter by using the #FWCSlam and you could receive a special prize bag filled with goodies for your next fishing trip.
“Rolling out the new Saltwater Grand Slam program on a License Free Fishing Day is just one more reason to get out there and explore all the wonderful fishing opportunities Florida has to offer,” said Nick Wiley, FWC executive director. “These challenges encourage new anglers to participate and give seasoned anglers an exciting goal to reach for.”
Grand Slams challenge anglers to catch three specific fish species in a 24-hour period. By encouraging anglers to target multiple species during fishing trips, the grand slam program entices anglers to learn more about Florida’s vast recreational fishing opportunities.
The new Grand Slams include:
- Inshore Grand Slam: red drum, spotted seatrout, flounder
- Family Slam: any three fish in the same family (example: red drum, black drum and spotted seatrout)
- Blue Water Slam: dolphinfish, sailfish, wahoo
- Florida Grand Slam: permit, tarpon, bonefish
- Shoreline Slam: sheepshead, kingfish(whiting), Florida pompano
- Reefs and Rubble Slam: black sea bass, gag, gray triggerfish
- Nearshore Slam: cobia, tripletail, king mackerel
- Bay and Estuary Slam: gray (mangrove) snapper, snook, Spanish mackerel
- Small Fry Slam (for children 15 and under): pinfish, grunt, catfish
All catches, past and present, are eligible as long as they can be documented. Successful anglers will receive a certificate signed by both the executive director of the FWC and the president of the International Game Fish Association, as well as a colorful shirt in recognition of their achievement. Anglers who submit photos with the application may also be recognized on MyFWC.com, Facebook or even the Saltwater Regulations publication.
As always, the FWC encourages responsible angling. Remember proper fish handling techniques when fishing. Anglers do not have to harvest their fish to be eligible, and are encouraged to release their catches alive.
Fishing is a low-cost, wholesome outdoor activity, which is why the FWC offers a total of eight days each year when a recreational fishing license is not needed. The first Saturday and Sunday in April (April 4-5, 2015) are the next license-free freshwater fishing days. The next saltwater license-free fishing days are the first Saturday and Sunday in June (June 6-7, 2015). All bag limits, seasons and size restrictions apply on these dates.
To make your fishing day successful, check out MyFWC.com/Fishing for fishing tips, locations and rules. Learn more about license-free fishing days by visiting MyFWC.com/License and clicking on “Do I Need One?” and “Free Fishing Days.”