FWC Commissioners Open Roundscale Spearfish for Harvest in State Waters

Billfish anglers will no longer need to question whether the fish they just boated is a white marlin or the similar-looking and once-prohibited roundscale spearfish. 

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) voted Wednesday to allow harvest of the species in Florida state waters at its May 2-3 Commission meeting. 

This change includes adding roundscale spearfish to the one-billfish bag and possession limit and the creation of a 66-inch minimum size limit when measured from the lower jaw to the fork of the tail. 

FWC Commissioners Set 2012 Recreational Red Snapper Season in the Gulf

The 2012 recreational red snapper season in Gulf of Mexico state waters will be June 1 through July 10, a total of 40 days. 

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) set the 2012 season Wednesday, May 2, at the Commission meeting in Crystal River. 

FWC Approves Ordinance for Anchoring/Mooring Pilot Program

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved, with one contingency, the city of St. Petersburg’s proposed boating ordinance for the anchoring and mooring pilot program coordinated by the FWC. 

Swordfish Regulatory Changes


NMFS proposes regulatory changes to the adjusted quotas and minimum sizes that would affect commercial and recreational vessels that catch Atlantic swordfish.

North and South Atlantic swordfish are managed under the dual authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and ATCA, which authorizes the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) to promulgate regulations as may be necessary and appropriate to implement ICCAT recommendations. The authority to issue regulations under the Magnuson-Stevens Act and ATCA has been delegated from the Secretary to the Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA (AA). On October 2, 2006, NMFS published in the Federal Register final regulations, effective November 1, 2006, implementing the 2006 Consolidated Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Fishery Management Plan (FMP), which details management measures for Atlantic HMS fisheries. 

ICCAT is responsible for the conservation of tuna and tuna-like species in the Atlantic Ocean and adjacent seas. ICCAT recommendations are binding on Contracting Parties, non-Contracting Cooperating Parties, Entities and Fishing Entities (CPCs), unless Parties object pursuant to the treaty. All ICCAT recommendations are available on the ICCAT Web site at http://www.iccat.int/en/. In November 2011, ICCAT adopted Recommendation 11-02 for North Atlantic swordfish. This recommendation maintains the U.S. baseline quota of 2,937.6 metric tons (mt) dressed weight (dw) for 2012 and 2013. Previous North Atlantic swordfish recommendations included a quota transfer of 18.8 mt dw from the United States to Canada; however, Recommendation 11-02 eliminates this quota transfer and includes a transfer of 112.8 mt dw from the United States to Morocco to support joint scientific research and Morocco's efforts to eliminate the use of driftnets. Recommendation 11-02 also includes a provision for the submission of annual swordfish management plans and a change to the underharvest carryover provisions. The recommendation limits the amount of underharvested quota that can be carried over by a CPC allocated a baseline quota greater than 500 mt to 25 percent of the baseline quota. 

Hatchery Bass Making a Difference in Florida

Fisheries biologists often refer to a three-pronged approach to fisheries management: habitat, fish and people. To develop and sustain high quality recreational fisheries, all three components need to be addressed. 

Most biologists stress that habitat – from water quality and quantity, to the amount of structure, including aquatic plants and resulting forage – may be the most critical. However, managing fish, which is often seen as stocking more or “better” fish, is often the first thought of anglers. Meanwhile, the people aspect, which includes engaging the public in resource stewardship, outdoor recreation and harvest regulations, is often the most visible approach.

Texas Flower Garden Banks New Regulations

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is amending the regulations for Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary to improve vessel and user safety, protect sanctuary resources from user impacts, clarify discharge language, and make other technical changes and corrections.

DATES: Effective Date: May 29, 2012.

ADDRESSES: Copies of the final management plan (FMP) and environmental assessment (EA) described in this rule and the Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) are available upon request to Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, 4700 Avenue U, Building 216, Galveston, TX 77551. The FMP and EA can also be viewed on the Web and downloaded at http://flowergarden.noaa.gov.

 FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: George Schmahl, Superintendent, lower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, 4700 Avenue U, Building 216, Galveston, TX 77551. Email: fgbmanagementplan@noaa.gov. Phone: (409) 621-5151.

 Summary of the Revisions

GMFMC to Convene Ad Hoc Private Recreational Data Collection Advisory Panel

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council will convene its Ad Hoc Private Recreational Data Collection Advisory Panel May 17, 2012, from 8:30 am - 4:00 pm at the Gulf Council Office - 2203 N. Lois Avenue, Suite 1100, in Tampa, Florida. 

Gulf Council Actions Taken at April 2012 Meeting

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council met in Corpus Christi, Texas, April 16 - 19, 2012, to discuss a number of fishery issues, including Reef Fish Amendment 35 for Greater Amberjack, a draft Options Paper for Reef Fish Amendment 37 for Gray Triggerfish, and a Scoping Document for Red Snapper Overage Adjustments. During the weeklong meeting, the Council took the following actions:

NACO Comments on Preliminary Settlement To Judge Barbier on Gulf Oil Spill

Attorneys met with Judge Barbier this week to seek approval of a preliminary agreement reached between BP and the Plaintiff’s attorneys.

The parties proposed the following timetable

• Notice to be sent out by May 3, 2012

• Motion papers in support of settlement to be filed by August 13, 2012

• Objections to be filed by August 31, 2012

• Opt-Out period to be closed by October 1, 2012

• Reply submissions to be filed by October 22, 2012

• Fairness hearing to be set and commenced on or about November 8, 2012

To read letter click here

MRIP to Meet with Constituents

MRIP is conducting a Road Show this spring and summer to meet with constituents along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. The meetings provide anglers and other stakeholders the opportunity to pose questions, share their ideas and concerns, and learn the latest MRIP news.

The Communications and Education Team began its Road Show with a series of listening sessions, both formal and informal, with recreational fishermen in New Jersey at the beginning of April. We traveled up and down the state's coastline to meet with tackle shop owners, fishing groups, recreational fishing advocates, members of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Marine Fisheries Division, and everyday anglers from all walks of life.