Wade in on New Sportfish and Gamefish Rules
The effort to improve conservation and management of Florida’s bonefish, tarpon, and permit fisheries is in jeopardy, with a vote due at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission meeting on Wednesday, February 13th 2013.
Please email the Commissioners today to let them know they should approve new Sportfish and Gamefish rules for Florida. This vote will be on these new designations only, not which fish species are assigned to these new designations. Actions on each species will be taken at a later date – such as to make bonefish and tarpon catch and release only. But none of that can happen if these new rules are not approved first.
Whether you are a resident of Florida or an angler who travels to Florida to fish, please contact the Commissioners to let them know you support the new Sportfish and Gamefish rules. Sportfish will be defined as species for which there would be no commercial sale, possession or harvest; no recreational harvest or possession (i.e., catch and release only); hook and line only. (Think tarpon, bonefish, permit. Ed.)
Gamefish will be defined as species for which there would be no commercial harvest, possession, or sale; recreational harvest only (within season, size, and bag limits). (Think sea trout. Ed.) At present, fish are only categorized as commercial harvest and sale vs no commercial harvest and sale. This new designation would codify the recreational status of these species.
Creating Gamefish and Sportfish designations in Florida will highlight some of the state’s most valuable recreational fish for today and future generations. These designations will also ensure that recreational anglers can enjoy a traditional gamefish for their table at home, and that the state’s world-renown catch and release fisheries remain healthy.
New designations will show the world that Florida takes management of these important resources seriously. By codifying recreational fisheries as gamefish and sportfish the FWC Commission will allow the fisheries to be more easily managed and open doors for more effective research and assessment. Recreational fisheries are becoming more important in Florida and elsewhere, which means that new methods for assessing stock size, catch rates, and fishing effort are needed. These new regulations will make it easier for the state to develop the new fisheries assessment tools that will be required for fisheries management in the future. Recreational anglers and resource management agencies in other states are following this discussion closely, and are looking to Florida for leadership.
Aaron Adams, Ph.D.
Florida Fly Fishing magazine fully supports this position and strongly encourages your support.
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