Hogfish recreational harvest will close in federal waters off Florida’s Atlantic and southern Gulf coasts Aug. 24, but state waters will remain open. Commercial harvest will also close Aug. 24 in both state and federal waters south of Cape Sable and up the Atlantic coast. Several other management changes will go into effect the same date, including a new management boundary between the Keys/east Florida and Gulf stocks.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will consider consistency with the early federal recreational season closure at the Sept. 27-28 Commission meeting in Okeechobee.
The new management boundary will be at 25 degrees 9 minutes north latitude (a line due west of Cape Sable, which is on the Gulf side of Florida). In Florida starting Aug. 24, hogfish in the Gulf of Mexico north of Cape Sable will be managed as Gulf hogfish, and hogfish south of that line, around the Florida Keys and up the Atlantic coast, will be managed as Atlantic hogfish. This new management boundary line is closer to where Gulf and Atlantic hogfish stocks naturally separate as determined by a recent genetic study.
Several other changes to state hogfish management measures take effect on Aug. 24. These changes are:
- Lowering the Atlantic recreational daily bag limit from five to one fish per harvester.
- Setting an Atlantic recreational harvest season of May 1 through Oct. 31.
- Increasing the Atlantic recreational and commercial minimum size limit from 12 to 16 inches fork length.
- Increasing the Gulf recreational and commercial minimum size limit from 12 to 14 inches fork length.
- Setting the minimum importation and sale size limit to 14 inches fork length statewide.
Visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater Fishing,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Hogfish” for more.