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Thank You Sir, May I Have Another

Call to Action: SIGN UP FOR THE NEW STATE REEF FISH SURVEY

Red snapper (Lutjanus campechanus)


Not another permit. “Just let me fish,” I could imagine anglers across the state saying. For me, as it is, if I want to use my center console to fish, I need a fishing license. Okay. But, if I want to keep a yellowfin tuna I also need a HMS permit. A snook, a stamp. A lobster, a stamp. A largemouth bass, a freshwater license. Stone crab, need to register now. And if I want to fish with my brother-in-law in the Gulf of Mexico for grouper, yep, you guessed it, another permit.

Who can realistically be asked to keep up with all of this? From the sounds of it, many people don't. I recently called that brother-in-law, Al Cowan, to find out if he'd ever been surveyed. Since 2015, Al's been required to show proof he's signed up for the Gulf Reef Fish Survey (GRFS). When asked, Al's response was, “What's a GRFS?” A call to another boat-owning fishing friend, from St. Petersburg resulted in the same answer: “What's a GRFS?”

"If Atlantic anglers could join the Gulf anglers in their 45-day red snapper fraternity I'm positive they would sign up."


When I asked authorities how many no-GRFS citations were written in 2019, the answer was zero. FWC officers did give eight written warnings, however. But, with this said, there were several hundred thousand anglers who did add the GRFS permit to their fishing license—or, possibly, it was added for them by the license vendor. From the looks of it, their participation—if unwitting—may have helped increase fishing days for red snapper in the Gulf from ten days in 2015 to soon-to-be 45 days in 2020.

“Thank you sir, may I have another.”

These words were yelled out by actor Kevin Bacon cheerfully, though gritted teeth, wanting another paddling if it meant getting into his desired college fraternity in the 1978 film Animal House.

If Atlantic coast anglers could join the Gulf coast anglers in their 45-day red snapper fraternity, I'm positive they would gladly sign up for another permit, and would even swear, through gritted teeth, to send back a survey if they were ever sent one.

East coast red snapper anglers, your time is now. You have a path forward for more red snapper days ahead. Gulf coast reef fish anglers, who don't know what the GRFS is, don't worry about Googling it, you're now required to fill out the new statewide version, the State Reef Fish Survey (SRFS).

Atlantic anglers, the path to more fishing days for red snapper was forged on the Gulf side of the state. Through better information on angler participation, and a responsive state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Gulf coast red snapper anglers are fishing four times the number of days. That's the path we hope to see on the Atlantic side as well.

Needed data is important, but our shot for more fishing days on the Atlantic side also depends on the state of Florida taking over the management of the recreational allocation of the fishery, which makes sense with 90% of the recreationally caught red snapper coming from Florida, and not NC, SC or GA (the other states that make up the federal South Atlantic Fishery Council). But, the first step is more and better data.

The free State Reef Fish Survey (SRFS) permit, as of July 1, 2020, is required for all Florida anglers who intend to keep mutton, red, vermilion, or yellowtail snapper; black, gag or red grouper; lesser amberjack, banded rudderfish or almaco jack; gray triggerfish and hogfish. (That permit is in addition to your regular saltwater license.)

Grit your teeth, more fishing days are worth the pain. FS

CALL TO ACTION



BETTER DATA MEANS BETTER FISHING. IF YOU BOTTOM FISH, IT'S MANDATORY, SIGN UP FOR THE NEW STATE REEF FISH SURVEY.

WWW.GOOUTDOORSFLORIDA.COM OR CALL 888-347-4356


Published Florida Sportsman Magazine July 2020




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