Several changes in the management of spotted seatrout will be considered by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) at their upcoming meeting November 16th at Key Largo Grande Resort & Beach Club in Key Largo, Florida. In the view of the members of CCA Florida, the management changes for seatrout proposed by the FWC are simply unwise, from both a policy standpoint and an economic standpoint.
Spotted Seatrout are meeting their management goal of 35% spawning potential ratio (SPR) set by FWC in all four regions of Florida. The lowest region in Florida is the northwest where Seatrout are at36.6% SPR and FWC is recommending a two month extension on the three month commercial fishery along with opening a five month fishery in the northwest zone during the winter months. They are also considering a by-catch allowance of 75 fish for incidental catch, adding a beach and haul seine to the allowable gear, and are considering increasing the boat limit from 75 fish to 150 fish as long as there are two licensed commercial fishermen in the boat. CCA Florida and its members view these changes as bad ideas, not only from an economic/jobs perspective but also from a policy perspective. From an economic/jobs/recreational viewpoint, the better course would be to expand the allowable season for seatrout - and perhaps expand size and bag limits â€“ for the angling public, rather than allowing increased haul and sale by commercial fishermen. Ultimately, the members of CCA Florida believe that the FWC would serve the citizens of Florida much better by making no changes to the current management scheme for seatrout than it would be by making any of the changes currently on the table.
Seatrout are Floridaâ€™s saltwater â€œpeopleâ€™s fishâ€, and the most accessible of all of Floridaâ€™s saltwater gamefish. Now that seatrout are estimated to have reached the minimum management goal of 35% spawning potential ratio (SPR) in all 4 management regions of the state, even inexperienced families fishing from shore have a chance to catch a few and take the keeper size seatrout home for dinner. The hundreds of thousands of Floridians and out-of-state visitors who fish for seatrout realize invaluable recreational benefits, support tens of thousands of jobs and provide incredible economic value. The tremendous economic and recreational value of seatrout has been recognized by the states of Texas, South Carolina and Alabama, who have accorded seatrout â€œno-saleâ€ status, and by the state of Georgia, which imposes the same size and bag limits on commercial fishermen that apply to the general public. Unfortunately, our own FWC seems to think those states have it wrong, and that increasing the take of seatrout by commercial fishermen is a good idea
Prepared by: Trip Aukeman CCA Florida Deputy Director