Fishing: New rules in store for local anglers

South Florida anglers will have a few more rules and regulations to remember when they hit the water in 2012. While some species won’t be headed to the dinner table anytime soon, the good news is that fishermen will have a few more options to pursue in the Gulf.

During the first day of their November meetings in Key Largo on Wednesday, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission voted to enact or alter regulations concerning such local favorites as grouper, trout, reds and several species of sharks.

The daily bag limit for red grouper has been increased from two to four per day per angler, but gag grouper will remain off limits through 2012. The regulations regarding gag grouper will now be the same for both state and federal waters, a decision the commission feels will “help the state achieve consistency with gag grouper management efforts affecting federal Gulf waters,” according to a press release.

Because of successful conservation efforts, spotted sea trout will no longer have a closed recreational season and the daily bag limit will be raised from five to six per day beginning in February.

“What we are trying to do is be fair in a fishery that is in abundance, and in some cases, way in abundance,” said FWC chairman Kathy Barco. “We are dealing with a success story.”

Beginning in 2012, anglers will no longer be allowed to keep tiger or hammerhead sharks caught in state waters. The new rules include the scalloped and giant hammerhead species and will replace the existing “one fish per person, per day” limit.

“Sometimes the appropriate measures of conservation are the problems we avoid, not the problems we have to fix,” commissioner Brian Yablonski said of the decision to protect the sharks.

One new regulation that will benefit anglers in the northern zones of Florida will be an increase in the daily bag limit for red drum to two fish per day. This change, however, will not affect Lee and Collier counties which reside in the southern conservation zone. The 18- to 27-inch slot limit will remain in effect.

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