All About Florida Keys Fishing & Key West Fishing

    2012 Gag Grouper Seasons

    Why did FWC establish a new Gulf gag grouper season for 2012?

    Stock assessments have shown that gag grouper populations in the Gulf of Mexico are
    significantly below healthy levels and the species continues to undergo overfishing. In an
    effort to rebuild stocks, the Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council established a
    July 1–Oct. 31 season in federal waters of the Gulf.

    The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission met in February and subsequently
    adopted new management measures for gag grouper in state waters of the Gulf. These
    changes included a federally consistent harvest season in the Gulf, which is July 1–Oct. 31.

    During the February FWC meeting, the Commission also approved an April 1 through June
    30 gag grouper season for a four county region including Taylor, Jefferson, Wakulla and
    Franklin counties including all waters of the Steinhatchee River, Apalachicola Bay and
    Indian Pass. This regional gag grouper season is for 2012 only. Because this season was
    established as a regional alternative to the Gulf wide season, state waters (within nine
    miles from shore) adjacent to the four county region will be closed for harvest during the
    July through October Gulf gag grouper season.

    What does this mean for harvesters within the four county region during the July 1–Oct.
    31 gag grouper season?

    Harvesters leaving port in the four county region can still keep gag grouper in federal
    waters that are open for gag grouper and return through closed waters to shore. The
    important thing to remember is that while you are traveling through closed waters, and in
    possession of gag grouper caught in open waters, you will need to travel in a direct and
    expeditious manner.
    Do not stop in closed waters to fish for other species while in possession of gag grouper
    because law enforcement will have no way to determine if the fish were caught legally in
    open waters. To avoid law enforcement issues, please plan your trip accordingly and be
    safe out there.

    When I’m out fishing, how can I tell if I’m in open or closed waters?

    The only way to accurately determine where you are fishing, without visual references, is
    with the use of electronic navigation equipment and charts. As a licensed recreational
    harvester, it is your responsibility to know where you are fishing.

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