The FWC is getting with the federal program on gag grouper.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission unanimously decided in Apalachicola Wednesday, Dec. 5, on a draft 2013 Gulf of Mexico gag grouper recreational season.
After hearing public testimony from 26 people, commissioners chose draft options that, if approved in February, will make most Gulf of Mexico state waters consistent with the federal season, with the exception of a four-county region.
The proposed gag grouper season would start July 1 and end when the annual catch target is expected to be met in November or early December. The federal season-ending date should be finalized in spring 2013.
State waters off tTaylor, Jefferson, Wakulla and Franklin counties would have a season from April 1 through June 30.
The four-county region will not open during the July 1 through November/December federal season. Monroe County is excluded from the Gulf of Mexico season because it is included in the Atlantic season for gag grouper.
"Similar to our reasons for making this change last season, moving the 2013 season to April through June for this four-county region is anticipated to have an insignificant impact to the resource but a significant impact to the local economy and the culture," said Commissioner Brian Yablonski. "This at least gives the Big Bend area a chance to fish. Without this exception, the Big Bend is in essence left out because the fish are offshore during the federally proposed season."
The 2012 recreational gag grouper season was July 1 through Oct. 31 in all federal and most state waters with the exception of state waters off Taylor, Jefferson, Wakulla and Franklin counties, which were open April 1 through June 30.
Public comment on this draft rule can be sent to Marine@MyFWC.com or can be given by calling (850) 487-0554.