On the 11th of May, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will shut down all harvest of Redfish, Snook and Sea Trout along its southwestern shores until May 2020. According to The Fishing Wire, “The closure will extend from the Pasco-Hernando county line near Tarpon Springs south (including all waters of Tampa Bay) through Gordon Pass in Collier County, just south of Naples.”
The new regulations will last until May 31, 2020, and were put into place to allow the Snook, Redfish and Sea Trout populations to recover after a plague of Red Tides, winter fish kills and over-harvesting. Red tides have been harming the region between November 2017 and suddenly stopped earlier this year.
But harvest shutdowns are not a new concept, in 2010 the FWC shut down harvesting of Snook after a winter freeze killed many of the species. But after the harvest shutdown ended in 2013, anglers enjoyed some of the best snook fishing in decades.
It saddens us that we have to applaud the shutdown of a fishery due to human-caused detriments on species, but these shutdowns will continue until officials figure out how to properly regulate fisheries to deal with these issues. For instance, Virginia recently had to shut down their trophy Striped Bass season to protect the breeding class of that overharvested species whose future is still under threat. Unfortunately, these closures will continue to occur until a balance is found.
Until then, we here at Flylords urge all of our readers to use catch and release practices whenever you are fishing, to help preserve the amazing species we get to interact with.
Images: Dan Zazworsky.