It is the June 2013 Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) meeting in Lakeland, Florida.
On this Wednesday, the seven Commissioners will be voting on two very important issues: the draft rule for Boca Grande Pass tarpon fishing gear, and, the final rules for catch-and-release status for tarpon and bonefish.
Your voice is urgently needed to encourage the Commissioners to vote YES on both of these proposed rules. There are two ways you are able to do this:
As always, the FWC Commission meetings are open to the public and have a public comment period in which you are given a few minutes to speak if you sign up to do so.
Here are the two rules pertaining to tarpon:
1. Draft Rule for Boca Grande Pass Tarpon Fishing Gear – The proposed draft rule would address the Commission’s definition of snagging in Chapter 68B-32, Tarpon. The proposed draft rule would also consider prohibiting gear rigged with a weight attached to the bottom of the hook in order to reduce snagging of tarpon in Boca Grande Pass. Boca Grande Pass Tarpon Gear Draft Rule Presentation.
- 68B-32.002 Definitions – The proposed draft rule would enhance the definition in the tarpon chapter of “snagging” or “snatch hooking.”
- 68B-4.018 Boca Grande Pass Gear Restrictions – The proposed draft rule would prohibit the use and possession of gear rigged with a weight attached to the bottom of the hook in Boca Grande Pass.
2. Final Rules for Tarpon and Bonefish – The proposed final rules would make tarpon and bonefish catch-and-release-only. To accomplish this, the allowance for a tarpon bag limit would be eliminated and replaced with an allowance for possession of a single tarpon in conjunction with a tarpon tag for the purpose of pursuing an International Game Fish Association (IGFA) record. In addition, all tarpon regulations will be extended into adjacent federal waters. The existing bonefish tournament exemption that allows registered tournament anglers to possess a bonefish for the purposes of transporting it to the tournament scale would also be eliminated. Tarpon and Bonefish Presentation
- 68B-32.001 Purpose and Intent (NEW) – The proposed final rule would create a new subsection in order to convey the intent to manage tarpon as a catch-and-release-only fishery with allowable harvest and possession limited to possession in pursuit of an IGFA record.
- 68B-32.003 Tarpon Tags: Required for Possession; Report; Annual Issuance; Taxidermy; Limitation on Number of Tags Issued Annually; Limitation on Number of Tags Issued to Professional Fishing Guides – The proposed final rule would extend Florida’s tarpon tag requirements to federal waters and limit the use of tarpon tags to tarpon harvested or possessed in pursuit of an IGFA record. The final rule would also eliminate reporting requirements and limit the number of tags that an individual can purchase to one per year. NEW: Staff is requesting permission to publish a Notice of Change to create a placeholder for this rule to house any future possible regulations.
- 68B-32.004 Bag Limit and Gear Restriction – The proposed final rule would eliminate the two tarpon bag limit and require that all tarpon be released without doing unnecessary harm and at the site of capture. Allowable possession of a tarpon within or without Florida waters, or elsewhere in the state, would be limited to anglers with the properly affixed tarpon tag who possess a tarpon in pursuit of an IGFA record. The final rule would also create a vessel limit of one tarpon per vessel and limit the allowable gears when targeting tarpon to hook and line only. In addition, the proposed final rule would state the intent to allow for temporary possession of tarpon for purposes of photography, measurement of length and girth, or scientific sampling, and any tarpon temporarily possessed would be required to be kept completely in the water if greater than 40 inches fork length. These regulations would apply in all state and federal waters off Florida.
- 68B-32.006 Sale Prohibited, Transport Regulated – The final rule would reduce the number of tarpon a person is allowed to transport or ship from two tarpon to one.
- 68B-32 – The final rule would reorganize and reformat the tarpon rule chapter to conform to the style developed for Division 68B, F.A.C., during the marine fisheries rule cleanup process.