Gulf gray triggerfish season, bag limit changes effective June 10 in state, federal waters
Changes to how Gulf of Mexico gray triggerfish are managed in state and federal waters will go into effect June 10. These changes include a recreational and commercial season closure and the implementation of recreational and commercial bag limits.
Earlier this year, state and federal fishery managers approved a recreational and commercial season closure for June 1 through July 31. Because this season closure does not go into effect until June 10, for 2013 only, the closure will start June 10 and run through July 31, with harvest reopening Aug. 1 in state waters. In future years, the closure will start June 1 and run through July 31.
A two-fish recreational bag limit and a 12-fish commercial bag limit also will go into effect on June 10.
Gray triggerfish have a unique spawning behavior that makes them vulnerable during the peak spawning season, usually between June and July. Male triggerfish coax females to nesting areas, where they all care for and guard their eggs after spawning. Closing gray triggerfish during their peak spawning time and implementing a recreational bag limit and a commercial trip limit should help rebuild the species’ numbers.
More than 60 percent of gray triggerfish caught in the Gulf of Mexico come from state and federal waters off Florida, which makes the state’s management of the species integral to the success of the federal rebuilding plan.
Changes to recreational harvest in state waters, including the June 1 through July 31 season closure and the two-fish bag limit, were approved at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) February meeting in Orlando, making state regulations consistent with federal recreational regulations.
Federal fishery managers approved changes to the commercial harvest of Gulf gray triggerfish, including the 12-fish trip limit and the June 1 through July 31 commercial harvest closure. The FWC requires fishers harvesting gray triggerfish commercially in Gulf state waters to have a federal reef fish permit. One condition of the federal reef fish permit is that harvesters must follow federal reef fish rules, even when they are fishing in state waters. This means that commercial harvesters in state waters must abide by the new federal commercial trip limit and closed season.