September 2, 2010
Contact: Lee Schlesinger, 850-487-0554
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) decided Thursday to reopen the recreational harvest season for snook on Sept. 17 in Florida’s Atlantic waters and maintain a catch-and-release snook fishery in Florida’s Gulf waters. Only catch-and-release fishing for snook has been allowed statewide under FWC executive orders, which have been in effect since January, to protect snook populations affected by prolonged cold weather in Florida earlier this year.
Commissioners received a staff report regarding the latest information on the status of the snook population, which suggests that snook on Florida’s Atlantic coast were less severely impacted by cold weather than were Gulf coast snook. Based on this information and public comment received, the Commission agreed to reopen snook harvest season this fall in Atlantic waters.
Snook has been strictly regulated in Florida for more than 50 years with summer and winter closed harvest seasons, a one-fish bag limit during open seasons, restrictive slot size limits, and a prohibition on the sale of snook. The FWC believes these measures helped ensure that snook abundance was healthy enough before the freeze to enable the fishery to rebound and continue to grow in spite of the cold weather impacts.
Consequently, the Commission determined that allowing harvest of snook in Florida’s Atlantic coastal and inland waters, including Lake Okeechobee and the Kissimmee River, from Sept. 17 until the regular winter season closure begins on Dec. 15 will have little effect on snook populations in this area. Further, it will allow the FWC to collect valuable information on the adult snook population through normal harvest sampling while providing a limited harvest opportunity for anglers.
The regular daily bag limit of one snook per recreational angler will apply, as will the slot limit of 28-32 inches total length. Also, as a precautionary measure, the Commission agreed to keep the harvest of Atlantic snook closed from Dec. 15 until Sept. 1, 2011, to protect snook populations this coming winter and during next spring and summer’s spawning months.
In addition, the current harvest prohibition of snook in all of Florida’s Gulf, Everglades National Park and Monroe County state and federal waters will remain in effect until Sept. 1, 2011. Anglers may still catch and release snook during snook harvest closures, and the FWC encourages everyone to handle and release these fish carefully to help ensure their survival upon release.
More information regarding the management of snook in Florida is available at MyFWC.com/Rules (click on “Fishing – Saltwater”).