New barracuda size limits for south Florida effective Jan. 1
Media contact: Amanda Nalley, 850-410-4943 or Amanda.Nalley@MyFWC.com
Starting Jan. 1, new recreational and commercial size limits for barracuda will be effective in state and federal waters off Collier, Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Martin counties only.
These changes were adopted at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) November meeting in St. Petersburg and include:
• A recreational and commercial slot limit of 15 to 36 inches fork length.
• Allowing the harvest of one fish larger than 36 inches per person or vessel per day, whichever is less.
“Change starts with the people that care about the resource. South Florida stakeholders saw an issue in their area, and it is through their actions and conservation ethics that these reasonable management changes were brought about. For that, I am thankful,” said FWC Commissioner Robert Spottswood.
In recent years, stakeholders in southeast Florida and the Florida Keys who fish and dive have voiced concerns about seeing declines in barracuda numbers.
Barracuda data is limited due to their complex life history and behaviors; however, there has been a declining trend in the number of barracuda observed during underwater surveys conducted in the Keys in recent years, as well as a declining trend in the average size of those barracuda.
A slot limit will contribute to barracuda conservation by eliminating harvest pressure on the youngest, most vulnerable fish while also conserving larger fish, which are responsible for the vast majority of reproduction.
The FWC also addressed concerns for this species in 2015 when they set recreational and commercial bag limits for barracuda in south Florida of two fish per person and six fish per vessel.
Staff will continue to monitor barracuda through data collected during FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute underwater surveys and ongoing recreational and commercial catch data collection. Recreational anglers can report their catches using data-reporting programs like the Snook and Gamefish Foundation’s iAngler app and Angler Action website.