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Fishing

Did you know Tampa Bay was once filled with oysters you could actually eat? Or that people used to turn their noses up at grouper?

Florida wildlife officials have changed fishing rules for snook and redfish in areas hit hard by a devastating red tide just ahead of the opening of the popular snook season.

State Seeks Input On Shore-based Shark Fishing

Jul 12, 2018

The public will have a chance to weigh in on the future of shore-based shark fishing at a series of public meetings that kick off next week in Bradenton and Fort Myers. 

Beginning July 1st, Florida’s state waters will be open for bay scallop harvest. This scalloping season will be twelve times as long as 2017’s, thanks to healthier scallops in the Gulf.

There will be no harvesting of Goliath Grouper in Florida, for now.

Stone crab claws are considered a delicacy by some and for many southwest Florida fisheries, the season is a critical money-making time of year.   We’re in the heart of stone crab season, which began in October and ends in May.  The 2017-2018 season started strong, but went to a low point around Thanksgiving.

Should Florida allow harvesting of goliath grouper?

That is the question being discussed at 15 public workshops around the state.

The mammoth fish can grow to the size of a grizzly bear. What’s not been big about goliath grouper are their numbers: Fisheries dwindled due to overfishing in the 80s. In 1990, harvest of goliath grouper was prohibited in Florida state waters and Gulf and South Atlantic federal waters.

But, a recent federal stock assessment showed goliath groupers numbers on the rise South Florida waters.

Despite a months-long season for red snapper in state waters off Florida and other Gulf states, fisherman across the Gulf of Mexico are gearing up to protest a brief three-day opening to catch the prized fish in federal Gulf waters. Fishermen argue a short opening hurts businesses and hampers anglers across the Gulf, but fishery managers say a small window is important to preserve a species still recovering from overfishing.

Steve Linder, flickr

Fishing enthusiasts should note Florida is making some changes to mutton snapper regulations that kick in January 1.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says the species is not overfished, but says data indicates the population may be lower than previously estimated.

The recreational limit for mutton snapper is essentially being cut in half. Currently there is a 10-snapper per person bag limit, and that's most kinds of snapper. But beginning in January, only five of those snappers can be mutton snapper.

Kids fish off of a narrow dock in Manatee Pocket, casting lines into coffee-colored water untouched by the toxic algae bloom fouling the St. Lucie River a mile up the canal.

Republican Congressman David Jolly of St. Petersburg recently introduced legislation that would hire fishermen to collect red snapper data in the Gulf of Mexico. Fishermen have complained about federal limits on catching red snapper. Jolly said this may give fishermen more days on the water, if it shows the population is healthier than federal research suggests. But some say it could actually mean less days on the water. 

Wikipedia Commons

Some Florida fishing guides say they're being crowded out of their preferred waters by a fish they can't keep.

Many commercial and recreational fishermen in northeast Florida and throughout the south Atlantic say they're seeing a banner year for red snapper - adding to their skepticism of data supporting federal regulations for the fish.

On the Southeast coast of the U.S., jellyfish have earned a lengthy rap sheet for stinging beachgoers and getting tangled in shrimpers' nets. But lately, the tides have turned for shrimping, and some fishermen in South Carolina, Georgia and Florida are reaping profits from their local pests, the cannonball jellyfish, or "jellyballs."

"The shrimp season [of 2013] was the worst ever in history here," says Howell Boone, a shrimp trawler in Darien, Ga."The jellyfish industry has been about the best thing that's happened to us."

Part three of a three-part series by Daniel Zwerdling and Margot Williams.

The long, clunky-looking fishing boat pulls up to Day Boat Seafood's dock near Fort Pierce, Fla., after 10 days out in the Atlantic. The crew lowers a thick rope into the hold, and begins hoisting 300-pound swordfish off their bed of ice and onto a slippery metal scale.