Florida Increases Permit Protections

New Special Permit Zone extending into Federal Waters to decrease permit harvest   

    On Thursday, June 9, 2011, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission enacted new laws to protect permit in Florida waters. The final action on the Draft Permit Rule took place during the FWC meeting this week in St. Augustine, Florida.   
    The new rule which goes into effect August 31, extends current regulations into Federal Waters which extend beyond nine miles from shore in the Gulf of Mexico and three miles from shore in the Atlantic Ocean.  Previously, there were no regulations regarding the harvest of permit in these adjacent federal waters.   
    To more efficiently manage the Florida permit population for different user groups, the FWC has established a Special Permit Zone which includes all state and federal waters south of a line running due east from Cape Florida and south of a line running due west from Cape Sable. The remainder of the state (north of these lines) makes up another management zone. In the Special Permit Zone, the commercial harvest of permit will be prohibited. 
    In this zone the recreational fishery has a minimum size limit of 22 inches fork length and a daily bag limit of one permit per person and two per vessel. Also, recreational anglers are allowed to use only hook-and-line gear, except that spearing for permit is allowed in federal waters in the zone. Additionally, a May, June and July harvest closure applies in this area. 
    Outside this zone, a recreational slot size for permit of 11-22 inches fork length and a daily bag limit of two fish per person applies, with an allowance for one permit over 22 inches in length. A vessel limit of two permit larger than 22 inches in length also applies. 
    Also, recreational anglers are allowed to use only hook-and-line gear for permit, except that spearing for permit is allowed in federal waters. No commercial harvest for permit is allowed, however, commercial fishers who are targeting other species with nets outside of the Special Permit Zone are allowed an incidental bycatch trip limit of 250 fish.
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