At its April 13 meeting in Jupiter, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved a measure to lower the recreational red drum daily bag limit in the northwest red drum management zone (Escambia County through Fred Howard Park near Pasco County) from two fish to one fish per person.
This change will go into effect Sunday, May 1. The daily bag limit is also one in the southwest management zone, which means after this change is effective, the daily bag limit will be one red drum per person, per day in all Gulf of Mexico state waters.
All other red drum regulations remain the same, including the eight fish vessel limit and six fish per person transport limit.
These changes come as the result of stakeholder concerns that red drum populations have declined in some parts of the Panhandle region of northwest Florida since 2013, the final year of data included in the most recent stock assessment.
“The action of the Commission reflects the recreational and economic significance of the red drum fishery, as well as the value of stakeholder input in fisheries management,” said FWC Commissioner Charles W. Roberts III.
Staff have been gathering public input from anglers to better determine what is being seen in their local areas via a statewide online survey, the FWC Red Drum Forum Facebook page, and by talking with anglers at fishing club meetings, boat shows, tackle shops and dockside angler intercepts.
Staff are also collecting public input in the northeast region of Florida, where stock assessment population estimates indicate numbers may have seen a decline at the conclusion of the assessment period (2013). The stock is still exceeding management goals in that area.
The Commission will consider whether to continue the reduced bag limit in northwest Florida and whether any changes are needed in northeast Florida at the June 2016 meeting in Apalachicola. Staff will also continue to gather public input on red drum populations in northeast and northwest Florida, as well as across the state through the end of May.
Take the FWC survey today at MyFWC.com/RedDrum2016.