With the coming of 2017, several recreational fishing season changes in Gulf waters went into effect. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) manages marine fish from the shore to 9 nautical miles in the Gulf of Mexico.
• Greater Amberjack Season Open: The greater amberjack season in Gulf state waters had been closed since Sept. 10. This temporary closure was put in place because NOAA Fisheries estimated the 2016 annual federal recreational quota was exceeded and the recreational harvest season in adjacent federal waters closed. The quota is the poundage of fish that can be caught each year while maintaining a sustainable fishery. Federal rules require that any harvest in excess of the quota for this species must be deducted from the next year’s quota and could result in a shortened federal season. State waters closed early in 2016 to help minimize negative impacts of a quota overage on Florida anglers and the 2017 season.
• Gray Triggerfish Season Closed: The gray triggerfish recreational season will remain closed Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2017 in Gulf state waters in response to an announcement that the 2016 federal gray triggerfish quota was exceeded by more than 200 percent and that federal waters will be closed through Dec. 31, 2017. The state waters closure will help avoid a quota overage in 2017. The FWC will consider a limited gray triggerfish season for fall 2017 at an upcoming meeting.
• Gag Grouper Season Closed: Gag grouper closed for recreational harvest in most Gulf of Mexico state waters and all Gulf federal waters Jan. 1, 2017. This is an annual closure. The season will reopen June 1, 2017.
State waters off Franklin, Wakulla, Jefferson and Taylor counties are open from April 1 through June 30 only and are not open during the June 1 through Dec. 31 season. Monroe County is also excluded from the June through December season because it follows Atlantic rules for gag grouper.