KEY LARGO — Successful red drum management prompts FWC to up bag limit
Recreational anglers targeting red drum in northern Florida can soon take home more of the popular fish, thanks to a change approved Nov. 16 by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).
The decision came during the first day of the two-day November Commission meeting in Key Largo.
The changes take effect Feb. 1, 2012, and include the following:
Create three management areas for red drum (the northwest, the northeast and the south) instead of one statewide management area;
Increase the number of red drum that a recreational fisherman can take per day in the northeast and northwest regions of the state from one to two red drum;
Establish a statewide vessel limit of eight red drum;
Limit the number of red drum that can be transported on land to six red drum per person.
These rule changes are the result of a successful management strategy that began in 1989, when the species was considered severely overfished.
“This is our version of having a listed protected species and being able to take it off that list. This is a success story,” said Commissioner Brian Yablonski about the increased recreational fishing opportunity. “If ever there was a moment to give back, this is it.”
A 2009-10 red drum stock assessment completed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute showed that red drum escapement rates (the proportion of fish surviving through age 4 relative to the number that would have survived to that age if there were no fishery) have been consistently above the FWC’s 40-percent management goal in the northern regions of the state.
Other recreational red drum rules will remain the same, including a slot limit of 18 to 27 inches and a one-red-drum bag limit in the southern part of the state.
To learn more about red drum recreational fishing visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater Fishing” and then “Recreational Regulations.”
Groups like the Coastal Conservation of Florida spoke out against the ruling claiming the bag limits of one fish per angler per day was sufficient and would allow the fishery to continue to improve.