July 27, 2020

Florida FWC Commission Approves Draft Changes to Flounder Regulations to Rebuild Fishery

Contact: Clay Chester, Southeastern States Coordinator

On July 22, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation (FWC) Commission (Commission) approved draft changes to flounder regulations. The changes included measures aimed at rebuilding the flounder fishery in the state. 

Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute recently released a stock assessment of the flounder population which indicated a general declining population trend and the likelihood of being overfished and undergoing overfishing. Following the stock assessment, the FWC outlined their priorities to conserve large spawning females and reduce harvest as they seek to address the declining population trend and improve flounder populations. The FWC staff then presented the Commission with proposed changes to flounder recommendations for their consideration. 

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) submitted a letter to the FWC on June 15 that supported each of the proposed measures to aid in the recovery of the fishery. These measures included increasing the minimum length requirement from 12 inches to 14 inches, reducing the daily recreational bag limit from 10 to 5 fish, implementing a daily commercial vessel limit of 150 fish, establishing a flounder harvest closure in November and extending all FWC flounder regulations into federal waters.

The Commission approved the increased minimum length requirement, the reduced daily recreational bag limit, the daily commercial vessel limit of 150 fish and extending all FWC flounder regulations into federal waters. However, the Commission approved the flounder harvest closure for recreational anglers only, although they do propose limiting commercial vessels to 50 pounds during the same timeframe (November).

In addition to approving the draft management changes, the Commission directed FWC staff to continue working with the commercial fishing industry to reduce flounder bycatch in federal waters. The Commission will give final consideration to the flounder regulations during their October meeting.

Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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