At its October meeting, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) issued an executive order to close the recreational harvest of gag grouper in Atlantic and Gulf state waters, a press release states.
According to the release, the 2023 recreational season for gag grouper in Atlantic state waters, including the state waters of Monroe County, will close at 12:01 am on October 23, consistent with the closure in adjacent federal waters.
The FWC also issued an executive order to close recreational gag grouper harvest for Gulf state waters at 12:01 am on October 19; however, excluding the state waters of Monroe County.
During the closure, the sale or purchase of any gag harvested in or from federal or state waters is prohibited, but does not apply to gag that were harvested, landed ashore, and sold before 12:01 am (local time).
The Atlantic gag grouper stock is overfished and experiencing overfishing, and a new rebuilding plan for this stock was recently approved by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce.
The FWC says that consistent state and federal recreational seasons for Atlantic gag grouper will help protect the gag grouper population and rebuild the fishery, as well as prevent quota overages and mitigate risks of future paybacks and shortened seasons.
Those wondering when the 2024 season will reopen for gag grouper harvest can look forward to 12:01 am on May 1, 2024 for Atlantic state waters, following the annual shallow water grouper spawning season closure. For Gulf state waters, the season will reopen September 1, 2024.
For more information, including the October 2023 Commission meeting presentation, visit MyFWC.com/Commission and click on “Commission Meetings.”
For current recreational gag grouper regulations, visit MyFWC.com/Marine and click on “Recreational Regulations,” “Reef Fish” and “Grouper.”
Article by Rachael Volpe