Red snapper regs undergo changes again
Just when you thought red snapper regulations couldn't get more confusing, the U.S. District Court in Brownsville, Texas, set aside an emergency rule that gave the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration the authority to adjust the federal season based on whether its state-water seasons and bag limits were consistent with federal regulations. As a result, the federal recreational red snapper season must be the same in federal waters off all five states bordering the Gulf of Mexico. So now, instead of a 26-day season in the federal waters of Florida, which begin 9 miles offshore, anglers can fish for 28 days. Snapper season ends at 12:01 a.m. June 29. But anglers may get another shot at these prized sport fish later in the year, because federal fishery managers now believe the stocks are doing better than they previously thought.
Rules change to eradicate lionfish
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission adopted new rules last week that will waive the recreational license requirement for divers targeting lionfish, an exotic species that is crowding out native fish throughout Florida waters. The new regulations will also allow people to take as many of the invasive fish as they can. Before the change, recreational anglers could not catch more than 100 pounds of lionfish without a commercial license. Specific gear that can be used to target lionfish without the requirement of a recreational license includes hand-held nets, pole spears, Hawaiian slings or any other spearing devices designed and marketed exclusively for lionfish.
PFDs can make big difference
Last year there were more than 700 boating accidents and 55 people killed on Florida's waterways. Many of these tragedies could have been avoided if more boaters wore personal flotation devices and designated a sober boat operator. Check your safety equipment before heading out as FWC officers do spot safety checks on the water. Make sure the PFDs are readily accessible. In most fatal accidents, boaters had PFDs on board, but they were not in use or not within easy reach. Make sure the PFD is the proper size for the person wearing it. Check the label before buying for a weight and chest size. This is especially important when it comes to children. To ensure a snug fit, pick the child up by the shoulders of the PFD. If you can still see the chin and ears, it fits. For more, go to myfwc.com/boating.
Terry Tomalin, Times Outdoors/Fitness Editor
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