Spotted Seatrout Season Closes in the South Zone

Spottedseatrout season closed in the South Zone of Florida November 1, and remainsclosed to all harvest through December 31. The South Zone is described as allwaters south of Volusia-FlaglerCounty line on the eastcoast, and south of Fred Howard Park on the west coast. All areas north of thiszone will be closed to seatrout harvest during the month of February.Seatroutseason is closed during these periods to help assure enough of the fishpopulation survives to keep the seatrout stocks stable. November, December andFebruary were selected as the closure months because seatrout have a higherrelease survival rate during periods of cooler weather.Recreationaland commercial fishermen have been awaiting the upcoming November 16-17 meetingof the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) which hasrecently intimated the possibility of relaxing the rules on spotted seatroutbecause of an improvement in the overall population.Proposedtrout rule changes include the elimination of closed seasons for recreationalanglers, expanding the commercial season for seatrout from three months to five,allowing for the commercial trip limit to be increased from 75 to 150 per dayif two licensed fishermen are aboard the vessel, and the allowance of a 75trout bycatch for commercial fishermen using beach or haul seine net gear.Theseproposed changes have been met with reluctance by many of the state?sconservation groups and fishing clubs that along with their members feel theseatrout population has not experienced a comeback dramatic enough to relax thecurrent regulations on the species. Among the groups that have written lettersto the state in hopes of encouraging FWC Commissioners to vote against anychange in the current seatrout rules are the Coastal Conservation Association,the West Palm Beach Fishing Club and the Snook Foundation.The FWCmeeting on spotted seatrout rules will take place at the Key Largo GrandeResort and Beach Club, 97000 South Overseas Hwy., Key Largo. Meetings willbegin at 8:30 a.m. each day with time set aside for public comment.Fora complete agenda of the FWC November 16-17 meeting, including presentations onspotted seatrout, redfish and more, visit www.MyFWC.com.

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