*New* The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission approved management changes to roundscale spearfish in state waters at the May 2 Commission meeting. The recreational harvest of roundscale spearfish
is currently prohibited in state waters. Management changes include allowing harvest of roundscale spearfish, adding the species to the one fish bag limit for marlin and sailfish, creating a 66 inch lower jaw to fork length minimum size limit and allowing possession exemptions for taxidermists, restaurants and wholesale dealers who mount or smoke these fish. View an FWC press release on the changes.
New regulations are in effect for recreational anglers who target highly migratory species (HMS) in state waters and in federal waters of the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and U.S. Caribbean.
Highly migratory species are
- Atlantic tunas (bluefin, yellowfin, bigeye, skipjack, albacore);
- swordfish and billfish (sailfish, spearfish, and blue and white marlin).
Federal waters extend from 3 to 200 miles on the Atlantic coast and from 9 to 200 miles on the Gulf coast of Florida. Below are the new regulations that affect Florida anglers.
HMS Angling Permit
Recreational anglers who target any HMS fish must purchase a federal permit. The permit is issued to the fishing vessel, so it will cover all anglers onboard. Anglers can apply for a permit online at www.nmfspermits.com or by calling 888-872-8862. This permit is not required for anglers fishing for billfish, swordfish or sharks in state waters.
Any HMS fish caught in federal waters (excluding sharks and non-bluefin tunas) that is landed (killed and brought to shore) must be reported to NOAA Fisheries within 24 hours. Call 800-894-5528 to report landings of swordfish and billfish, and 888-872-8862 to report bluefin tuna landings.
In addition, new state regulations require persons landing billfish and swordfish caught in state waters to report to NOAA at the phone number above.
Swordfish Bag and Size Limits for State Waters
Anglers are limited to 1 swordfish per person with a vessel limit of 4 per recreational vessel per day in state waters. Charter boats are limited to 6 swordfish per vessel and headboats are limited to 15 swordfish per vessel. Captain and crew of for-hire vessels have a zero swordfish bag limit, but the individual daily bag limit of one swordfish per person per day still applies to customers aboard for-hire vessels. Regardless of the length of the trip, no more than the daily limit may be possessed onboard a vessel. This bag limit includes charter boats and head boats. The minimum size limit for swordfish in state waters is 47 inches lower jaw fork length or 29 inches cleithrum to keel length. A swordfish that is damaged by shark bites may be retained only if the remainder of the carcass is at least 47 inches lower jaw fork length or 29 inches cleithrum to keel length.
Links for more information