Keeping up with grouper seasons

The recreational red grouper bag limit in Gulf of Mexico state waters (excluding Monroe County) will increase Dec. 30 from two to four fish, followed by the Jan. 1 season closure for shallow-water groupers in Atlantic state waters.

The red grouper bag limit increase is one of several fishery management changes made at the November Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission meeting in Key Largo.

Management changes in 2012 will also affect gag grouper season, which is currently closed to fishing in Gulf of Mexico state waters (excluding Monroe County) and will continue to be closed through March 31, 2012.

Both measures will help the state achieve consistency with federal red and gag grouper management efforts.

Federal managers are working on a plan to further protect gag grouper, which is overfished and undergoing overfishing in the Gulf. The FWC will revisit state gag grouper management efforts in February 2012, once federal rules are solidified.

The closed season for red and gag grouper, as well as other shallow-water groupers such as  tiger grouper, coney and graysby, in Atlantic state waters, including Monroe County, is Jan. 1 through April 30.

Shallow-water grouper season closes Feb. 1 in Gulf state waters and reopens April 1. Shallow water groupers in the Gulf include gag, red, black, yellowfin and yellowmouth groupers; scamp; and rock and red hind.

For more information, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater Fishing,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Grouper.”