FWC proposes more protection for bonefish

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The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) proposed draft rule amendments Thursday to provide more protection for bonefish, a premier saltwater game fish in Florida.

“Bonefish are a tremendous Florida resource,” said FWC Chairman Rodney Barreto. “These proposed rules will strengthen our management approach to protect and preserve bonefish so that anglers can continue to enjoy fishing for this great Florida game fish.”

The proposed rules would include all species of bonefish in the FWC’s bonefish management rules to help ensure that all bonefish in Florida waters are protected.

It would also extend FWC bonefish regulations into adjacent federal waters to aid enforcement and enhance bonefish protection, and require that bonefish be landed in whole condition to help officers in the field identify bonefish and aid in enforcement of bag and size limits.

Since 1988, it has been illegal to commercially harvest and sell bonefish in Florida, and a daily recreational bag limit of one bonefish 18 inches or greater in fork length applies.

However, there is a temporary harvest and possession prohibition on bonefish in Florida until April 1 as a precaution, because of possible impacts to fish populations that may have occurred from the recent prolonged cold weather in Florida.

Anglers may still catch and release bonefish during the temporary closure, and the FWC encourages everyone to handle and release them carefully to help ensure their survival upon release.

A final public hearing on these proposed bonefish rule amendments will take place during the FWC’s April meeting in the Tallahassee area.

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