FL: FWC proposes catch-and-release only for bonefish

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC)
proposed draft rules on Wednesday that would allow only
catch-and-release fishing for bonefish, a premier saltwater game
fish in Florida. The proposed rules would also establish new
provisions regarding the possession of bonefish by anglers and the
possession and transport of bonefish during bonefish fishing

“Bonefish are an extremely valuable Florida game fish,” said FWC
Chairman Rodney Barreto. “These proposed rules will further protect
bonefish populations in South Florida, while providing anglers with
opportunities to document a record catch and enjoy the exciting
action of bonefish fishing tournaments.”

Bonefish are prized by anglers because they are stealthy,
fast-swimming fish that are exciting and challenging to catch.
South Florida is one of the few places in the United States where
anglers can fish for bonefish, and the shallow saltwater flats of
the Florida Keys and Biscayne Bay are considered a world-class
destination for catching large, trophy-sized bonefish. A recent
study by scientists at the University of Miami estimated the value
of a single bonefish in the Florida Keys to be $3,500 each year,
and nearly $75,000 over the lifespan of the fish.

Based on bonefish’s economic value as a game fish, the FWC’s
proposed draft rules would eliminate the one-fish daily bag limit
for bonefish and allow only catch-and-release fishing. Most anglers
already release the bonefish they catch as a conservation

The proposed rules would also allow anglers to temporarily
possess a bonefish where it is caught, so they can photograph and
measure or weigh the fish to document a possible record catch. In
addition, the proposed rules would allow anglers participating in
specially permitted tournaments to temporarily possess and
transport bonefish to tournament check-in stations for weigh-in
under specified conditions. These fish would still have to be
carefully handled and eventually released.

More information regarding the FWC’s bonefish draft rule
proposal is available online at MyFWC.com/Commission, linked from
the Feb. 23-24 meeting agenda, and a final public hearing on these
rule proposals will take place in April.


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