A meeting of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) could have long reaching-reaching consequences for tarpon and bonefish lovers. According to the Commission, a proposed draft rule amendment will make the two species catch-and-release only.
Tarpons and bonefish are the favorite sport fish of many anglers, although some do not find their meat appetizing. Tarpons are noted for their size and energetic fighting ability whereas bonefish are highly valued by fly fishermen. Both species are the subject of numerous Florida fish tournaments, which could be impacted by the amendment if it is approved.
The FWC made the following statement:
The proposed draft rule amendments would make tarpon and bonefish catch-and-release-only species in recognition of the fact that their economic and fishing value as fishes caught and released greatly exceeds their value as food fish. In order to accomplish this, the allowance for a tarpon bag limit would be eliminated and replaced with an allowance for possession of a single tarpon in conjunction with a tarpon tag for the purpose of pursuing an International Game Fish Association (IGFA) record. The existing bonefish tournament exemption that allows registered tournament anglers to possess a bonefish for the purposes of transporting it to the tournament scale would also be eliminated.
In the same meeting, the FWC proposed eliminating some license requirements for fishing lionfish, an invasive species that is a threat to Florida’s reefs.