FWC responds to widespread cold-weather saltwater fish kills
Friday, January 15, 2010
Media contact: Lee Schlesinger, 850-487-0554
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Commission (FWC) has issued executive orders to protect Florida's
snook, bonefish and tarpon fisheries from further harm caused by
the recent prolonged cold weather in the state, which has caused
widespread saltwater fish kills. The FWC has received
numerous reports from the public and is taking action to address
the conservation needs of affected marine fisheries. The
orders also will allow people to legally dispose of dead fish in
the water and on the shore.
One of the executive orders temporarily extends
closed fishing seasons for snook statewide until September.
It also establishes temporary statewide closed seasons for bonefish
and tarpon until April because of the prolonged natural cold
weather event that caused significant, widespread mortality of
saltwater fish in Florida. The other order temporarily
suspends certain saltwater fishing regulations to allow people to
collect and dispose of dead fish killed by the cold weather.
"A proactive, precautionary approach is warranted
to preserve our valuable snook, bonefish and tarpon resources,
which are among Florida's premier game fish species," said FWC
Chairman Rodney Barreto. "Extending the snook closed season
and temporarily closing bonefish and tarpon fishing will protect
surviving snook that spawn in the spring and will give our research
scientists time to evaluate the extent of damage that was done to
snook, bonefish and tarpon stocks during the unusual cold-weather
period we recently experienced in Florida."
Snook season currently is closed in Florida under
regular FWC rules, and there are also regular closed snook seasons
that occur in the summer. However, the FWC executive order
extends the statewide snook closed seasons continuously through
Aug. 31 and provides that no person may harvest or possess snook in
state and federal waters off Florida during this period unless the
fishery is opened sooner or the closure is extended by subsequent
The order also establishes a temporary prohibition
on the harvest and possession of bonefish and tarpon from state and
federal waters off Florida through March 31, unless these fisheries
are opened sooner or the closures are extended by subsequent
order. The FWC executive order for the snook, bonefish and
tarpon closed seasons takes effect at 12:01 a.m. on Jan. 16.
The other FWC executive order temporarily removes
specific harvest regulations for all dead saltwater fish of any
species that have died as a result of prolonged exposure to cold
weather in Florida waters. It also modifies general methods
of taking dead saltwater fish from Florida's shoreline and from the
water to allow the collection of saltwater fish by hand, cast net,
dip net or seine.
All people taking dead saltwater fish under the
provisions of this order may not sell, trade or consume such fish,
and the dead fish must immediately be disposed of in compliance
with local safety, health and sanitation requirements for such
In addition, all people taking dead fish under the
provisions of this order are not required to possess a saltwater
fishing license, and all fish taken under the provisions of this
executive order shall be those that have died as a result of
prolonged exposure to cold weather.
This FWC executive order takes effect at 12:01 a.m.
on Jan. 16 and will expire at 12:01 a.m. on Feb. 1, unless it is
repealed sooner or extended by subsequent order.