April 28, 2023
By Blair Wickstrom
Are you ready for ten different snook seasons in Florida? Following a recent change for redfish, which calls for a more regional management approach, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is looking to do the same for snook.
In March 2023, the FWC held 12 public workshops looking for public input regarding future management changes for snook.
To find out more about the proposed plan and the regional staff recommendations, go to the FWC Saltwater YouTube channel and click on your region’s meeting video.
In a nutshell, the FWC is looking to adopt a management approach for snook across ten regions in the state. In each region, seven metrics will be used to determine the health of the fishery. The new metrics being considered are: spawning percentage ratio (SPR), stakeholder feedback, fishing effort, habitat trends, harmful algae blooms, relative abundance and air temperature.
Currently, SPR, which compares the eggs produced by a fished population to the eggs of an un-fished population, is only the metric used to measure the statewide health of the snook fishery.
Regarding regulations, as of now there are two sets, one for the Gulf of Mexico and one for the Atlantic, with slightly different slot limits and seasons.
Under the new proposal, there’s the possibility for ten different sets of regulations. Based on the metrics listed above, the state of Florida could have ten different bag limits, ten different slot limits, and possibly ten different seasons.
When I asked my colleague Jeff Weakley, Florida Sportsman Editor, about the idea, he said, “I think it’s a terrible idea. Ten regions is too many,” he said. “It would probably lead me to not buying a snook permit.”
But, when I asked Captain Mike Holiday, of Stuart, about the idea he thought it made sense considering how much of the fishery is impacted by regional habitat issues.
I think both guys make valid points. Clearly, we need to be able to respond quickly and manage appropriately to a regional catastrophic harmful algae bloom or massive red tide fish kill or a freeze that wipes out truckloads of snook.
But, to Jeff’s point, are creating a quagmire of rules and regulations that no one can follow or keep track of? Including law enforcement.
What do you think?
I’d like to know. Tell us via social media (Flordia Sportsman Facebook or Instagram). I’m going to be writing my “Call To Action” column on this in the July print issue of Florida Sportsman.
But, more importantly, tell the FWC what you think.
Comments can be submitted at MyFWC.com/SaltwaterComments FWC staff will be making recommendations to the commission at the May 10-11 Commission Meeting in Miami.