Two premier recreational fisheries will soon have new protections in place, a measure aimed at ensuring that tarpon and bonefish’s economic and fishing value remain for generations to come. Tarpon and bonefish become catch-and-release only fisheries beginning Sept. 1.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved these proactive management measures at its June 12 meeting in Lakeland. The catch-and-release proposal was adopted in recognition of the fact that the economic and fishing values of bonefish and tarpon greatly exceed their value as food fishes.
The following changes will go into effect Sept. 1 in state and federal waters off Florida:
- All harvest of tarpon will be eliminated, with the exception of the harvest or possession of a single tarpon when in pursuit of an International Game Fish Association record and in conjunction with a tarpon tag.
- Tarpon tags will be limited to one per person, per year except for properly licensed charter boat captains and fishing guides.
- Transport or shipment of tarpon becomes limited to one fish per person.
- There will be a one-fish-per-vessel limit for tarpon.
- Gear used for tarpon will be limited to hook-and-line only.
- Multiple hooks in conjunction with live or dead natural bait cannot be used to target or harvest tarpon, or to target bonefish.
- People will be allowed to temporarily possess a tarpon for photography, measurement of length and girth and scientific sampling, with the stipulation that tarpon more than 40 inches must remain in the water.
- Tarpon regulations will extend into federal waters.
- The bonefish tournament exemption permit is eliminated. This exemption allowed tournament anglers with the proper permit to temporarily possess bonefish for transport to a tournament scale.
Logo courtesy Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission