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Homework Time for Snookers

Homework Time for Snookers
Homework Time for Snookers

August 2007

Good people. Good intentions. Unfortunate result.

That's our snapshot view of state fisheries managers and the limits they've imposed on snook fishing.

The new limits carry a very small keeper slot size. Different on each coast. Moreover, closed months are different for Atlantic and Gulf waters, and are puzzlingly incompatible with desired effects of the slot size variance.

If you're an angler who fishes both coasts and likes to keep the occasional snook, you have a month or so to soak up the changed rules before a limited opening arrives Sept. 1. (You might want to copy/clip the following summary and put it in with your folding money, before you may need the latter for a hefty fine.)

Florida Snook Limits, Effective July 1, 2007

Region--Closed Months--Slot Size (1 fish limit)

Atlantic---Dec. 15-31, Jan., June, July, Aug.--28-32 in. (pinched tail)

Gulf--Dec., Jan., Feb., May, June, July, Aug.--28-33 in. (pinched tail)

The year-ago slot size of 8 inches is thus cut to 4-5 inches, depending on coast, leading one angler to lament that getting a keeper now will be like winning the Lotto. I wouldn't go that far but it is a tough slot fit.

A month and a half additional closure period is added to Gulf waters even though that same area gets a larger slot. Uniformity for both factors would be better, we'd suggest.

Often, ease of public knowledge and enforcement is as important as biological equations and charts studied in offices far from the actual scene.

We do approve of the bag limit cut from two to one on the east coast (and might note that this uniformity is worthwhile).

It pains us to find fault with the new snook laws because no one has fought harder for strong snook conservation than Florida Sportsman, working traditionally with thousands of sportsmen for more than three decades.

With that conservation stance in mind, we do advocate laws that are easily remembered and become part of the angling ethic.

Toward that end, enforcement depends far more on voluntary compliance by anglers than by the long (or short) arm of the law.

At any rate, let's learn and comply.

In the very good news department, commercial longliners appear to have failed in a bid to bring back the horrendously destructive gear to the Atlantic waters where it was banned six years ago.

The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council voted to recommend against the longlining “study” ploy, though three members actually voted for the longlining in one more showing of commercial influence in the federal system.

That influence showed again, alas, in the same Council's recent approval of no-fishing zones that ban personal-use fishing in eight deepwater areas even though non-commercial use is four percent of the catch and has nothing to do with any perceived overfishing problems.

The feds completely fail to recognize and respect the difference between taking fish by the ton for the market and taking a handful for recreation. Until that self-dealing mindset is changed, federal management always will be compromised.

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