A reminder to anglers from federal and state fisheries managers: A shallow-water grouper closure is in effect in federal and state Atlantic waters through April 30. Recreational and commercial harvest are prohibited for: gag, black, red, scamp, coney, graysby, yellowfin, yellowmouth, tiger, rock hind and red hind grouper.
• In state waters out to three miles in the Atlantic and nine miles in the Gulf, both recreational and commercial harvest are prohibited indefinitely for tiger sharks as well as smooth, scalloped and great hammerheads. The shark closures do not apply to federal waters.
• Recreational harvest of sea trout reopened in South Florida on Jan. 1. A rule adopted last year by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission lifted annual closed months for the species statewide. The maximum daily bag limit for sea trout in South Florida is four fish per person. The statewide slot limit is 15-20 inches total length, with an allowance for one fish larger than 20 inches.
• NOAA Fisheries wants to know what anglers think about a proposal to eliminate a deepwater snapper-grouper closure in South Atlantic waters implemented last year. The rule prohibited the possession of snowy grouper, blueline tilefish, yellowedge grouper, misty grouper, queen snapper and silk snapper caught in waters deeper than 240 feet.
The aim was to reduce discards of speckled hind and warsaw grouper, which are deemed overfished. However, NOAA scientists recently found that speckled hinds and warsaws rarely are caught in the same areas as the other prohibited species, so there’s no need for such a broad closure. If the rule is thrown out, the harvest and possession of speckled hind and warsaw grouper still would be prohibited.
Submit comments by Jan. 19 by going online to www.regulations.gov (select “submit comment”), then type in NOAA-NMFS -2011-0209 in the “Keyword or ID” box. You can mail comments to: NOAA Fisheries Service, Southeast Regional Office, Sustainable Fisheries Division, c/o Rick DeVictor, 263 13th Ave., South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701; or fax to 727-824-5308.