NOTE:  Regulations pages are under construction

Please contact Emily Muehlstein, Public Information Officer, with questions, concerns, or suggestions.

NOTE: Click on a species image for detailed information about that species.

Species

Recreational Regulations

Snappers Season Size Bag Limit Aggregate
Reef Fish

Red Snapper

Closed 

Federally permitted for-hire season: Open June 1*

Private recreational season: Determined by each Gulf State*

16″ TL 2 per person

Gray (Mangrove) Snapper

Open year-round 12″ TL None 10 snapper combined total

Mutton Snapper

Open year-round 18″ TL 5 per person

Yellowtail Snapper

Open year-round 12″ TL None

Cubera Snapper

Open year-round 12″ TL None

Queen Snapper

Open year-round 12″ TL None

Blackfin Snapper

Open year-round 12″ TL None

Wenchman Snapper

Open year-round 12″ TL None

Silk Snapper

Open year-round 12″ TL None

Vermilion Snapper

Open year-round* 10″ TL 10 per person 20 reef fish combined total

Lane Snapper

Open year-round 8″ TL None
Groupers Season Size Bag Limit Aggregate

Gag Grouper

Closed

Closed January – May

Open June – December*

24″ TL 2 per person 4 grouper combined total

Red Grouper

Open year-round*

Closed February – March when fishing beyond 20 fathom break

20″ TL 2 per person

Black Grouper

Open year-round*

Closed February – March when fishing beyond 20 fathom break

24″ TL None

Yellowfin Grouper

Open year-round

Closed February – March when fishing beyond 20 fathom break

20″ TL None

Scamp Grouper

Open year-round

Closed February – March when fishing beyond 20 fathom break

16″ TL None

Yellowmouth Grouper

Open year-round

Closed February – March when fishing beyond 20 fathom break

None None

Yellowedge Grouper

Open year-round None None

Snowy Grouper

Open year-round None None

Speckled Hind Grouper

Open year-round

None 1 per vessel

Warsaw Grouper

Open year-round

None 1 per vessel

Goliath Grouper

CLOSED n/a Harvest Prohibited

Nassau Grouper

CLOSED n/a Harvest Prohibited
Other Reef Fish Season Size Bag Limit Aggregate

Golden Tilefish

Open year-round None None 20 reef fish combined total

Blueline Tilefish

Open year-round None None

Goldface Tilefish

Open year-round None None

Gray Triggerfish

Closed

Closed January – February

Open March – May*

Closed June – July

Open August – December*

15″ FL 1 per person

Hogfish

Open year-round 14″ FL 5 per person

Greater Amberjack

Closed

Closed January – April

Open May*

Closed June – July

Open August – October*

Closed November – December

*Recreational fishing year begins August 1

34″ FL 1 per person

Lesser Amberjack

Open year-round 14″-22″ FL None 5 fish combined total

Banded Rudderfish

Open year-round 14″-22″ FL None

Almaco Jack

Open year-round None None
Coastal Migratory Pelagics Season Size Bag Limit

Cobia (ling)

Open year-round

33″ FL*

*Increase to 36″ FL pending

2 per person

Spanish Mackerel

Open year-round 12″ FL 15 per person

King Mackerel

Open year-round

24″ FL 3 per person
Shellfish Season Size Bag Limit

Spiny Lobster

Open January – March

Closed April 1  – August 5

Open off Florida for 2 day mini-season the last consecutive Wednesday and Thursday in July.

Open August 6 – December

3″ minimum carapace 6 per person
Other Season Size Bag Limit

Red Drum

Closed None None

* subject to in-season closure if landings are projected to reach the quota

Coral and Other Species
Live Rock  

Harvest or possession of wild live rock is prohibited. Harvest and possession of aquacultured live rock requires a permit.

 

Other Marine Life Organisms  

Marine life organisms from the EEZ harvested or possessed by Florida residents or landed in Florida are subject to Florida’s Marine Life Rule. Contact Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission for more information 850-488-4676.

 

 

Highly Migratory Species
Tunas, Billfish, Swordfish, Sharks  

For Highly Migratory Species Compliance Guide Visit: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/atlantic-highly-migratory-species/atlantic-highly-migratory-species-fishery-compliance-guides
Contact the HMS Division of NOAA Fisheries for more information: 301-427-8503

 

 

Federal Fishing Regulations are not always the same as state fishing regulations. For species that are not managed by federal regulations, states have the authority to extend state rules into federal waters for residents of that state or vessels landing a catch in that state.

NOTE: Click on a species image for detailed information about that species.

Species

Commercial

Snappers Quota / Season Size Trip Limit
Reef Fish

Red Snapper

6,312,613 pounds GW 13″ TL Red Snapper is managed under an IQ program. Anyone fishing for red snapper must possess IFQ allocation and follow established protocols.

Gray (Mangrove) Snapper

Stock ACL of 2,420,000 lbs WW 12″ TL None

Mutton Snapper

Stock ACL of 139,392 lbs WW 18″ TL None

Yellowtail Snapper

Stock ACL of 901,125 lbs WW

Fishing year begins August 1st

12″ TL None

Cubera Snapper

Stock ACL of 5,065 lbs WW 12″ TL None

Vermilion Snapper

Stock ACL of 3,110,000 lbs WW* 10″ TL None

Lane Snapper

Stock ACL of 301,000 lbs WW 8″ TL None

Queen Snapper

Stock ACL of 166,000 lbs WW None None

Blackfin Snapper

Stock ACL of 166,000 lbs WW None None

Wenchman Snapper

Stock ACL of 166,000 lbs WW None None

Silk Snapper

Stock ACL of 166,000 lbs WW None None
Groupers Quota Size Trip Limit

Gag Grouper

939,000 pounds GW 24″ TL Grouper are managed under an IFQ program. Anyone commercially fishing for grouper  must possess IFQ allocation and follow established protocols.

Red Grouper

3,000,000 pounds GW 18″ TL

Black Grouper

Shallow water grouper quota – 525,000 pounds GW 24″ TL

Yellowfin Grouper

Shallow water grouper quota – 525,000 pounds GW 20″ TL

Scamp Grouper

Shallow water grouper quota – 525,000 pounds GW

*For the purposes of the IFQ, DWG allocation may be used to land and sell scamp once an IFQ account holder’s other SWG allocation has been landed and sold or transferred.

16″ TL

Yellowmouth Grouper

Shallow water grouper quota – 525,000 pounds GW None

Yellowedge Grouper

Deep water grouper quota – 1,024,000 pounds GW None

Snowy Grouper

Deep water grouper quota – 1,024,000 pounds GW None

Speckled Hind Grouper

Deep water grouper quota – 1,024,000 pounds GW

*For purposes of the IFQ, these species are also included in the 525,000 lb GW SWG quota

None

Warsaw Grouper

Deep water grouper quota – 1,024,000 pounds GW

*For purposes of the IFQ, these species are also included in the 525,000 lb GW SWG quota

None
Other Reef Fish Quota Size Trip Limit

Golden Tilefish

Overall tilefish quota – 582,000 pounds GW None Tilefish are managed under an IFQ program. Anyone commercially fishing for tilefish must possess IFQ allocation and follow established protocols.

Blueline Tilefish

Overall tilefish quota – 582,000 pounds GW None

Goldface Tilefish

Overall tilefish quota – 582,000 pounds GW None

Hogfish

Stock ACL of 129,500 pounds WW 14″ FL None

Gray Triggerfish

60,900 Pounds WW

Closed June 1 through July 31

14″ FL 16 fish

Greater Amberjack

349,766 Pounds WW*

Closed March – May

36″ FL 1,500 lbs GW – 1,560 lbs WW

Lesser Amberjack

Stock ACL of 312,000 lbs WW 14″-22″ FL slot limit None

Banded Rudderfish

Stock ACL of 312,000 lbs WW 14″-22″ FL slot limit None

Almaco Jack

Stock ACL of 312,000 lbs WW None None
Coastal Migratory Pelagics Quota Size Trip Limit

Cobia (ling)

None  

33″ FL*

*Increase to 36″ FL pending

Daily possession limit of 2 pp

Spanish Mackerel

Stock ACL of 11,300,000 pounds

Fishing year begins April 1

12″ FL None

King Mackerel

Combined Gulf Group ACL: 2,740,000 pounds mixed weight

Southern Zone:
Gillnet
575,400 pounds mixed weight
Season opens at 6:00 a.m. the day after the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Holiday, including the first weekend after the opening*

Hook and Line
575,400 pounds mixed weight
Opens July 1*

Northern Zone:
493,200 pounds mixed weight
Opens October 1*

Western Zone:
1,096,000 pounds mixed weight
Opens July 1*

24″ FL – Maximum of 5% by weight may be undersized Southern Zone:
Gillnet
45,000 pounds mixed weightHook and Line
1,250 pounds mixed weightNorthern Zone:
1,250 pounds mixed weightWestern Zone:
3,000 pounds mixed weight
Shellfish Quota/Closed Season Size Trip Limit

Spiny Lobster

Closed April 1 – August 5 Carapace more than 3″ or tail more than 5 1/2″. Divers must measure in water.

250 per day/vessel for spiny lobsters harvested by bully net or diving*

*Harvesting by bully net in or from all federal waters off Florida. Harvesting by diving in or from federal waters only off Broward, Dade, Monroe, Collier, and Lee Counties, Florida

Shrimp

Royal red shrimp 337,000 pounds tail weight* None, but white shrimp taken in the EEZ and transported to Louisiana must comply with minimum size limit of that state. None

*subject to in-season closure if landings are projected to meet the quota.

Coral and Coral Reefs
Allowable Octocorals  

Octocorals (soft corals) were removed from the Coral and Coral Reefs Fishery Management Plan and are now managed by Florida FWC in state and federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico. See Florida Fish Wildlife & Conservation Commission regulations.

 

Live Rock  

Harvest or possession of wild live rock is prohibited. Harvest and possession of aquacultured live rock requires a permit.

 

Other Marine Life Organisms  

Marine life organisms from the EEZ harvested or possessed by Florida residents or landed in Florida are subject to Florida’s Marine Life Rule. Contact Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission for more information 850-488-4676.

 

 

Highly Migratory Species
Tunas, Billfish, Swordfish, Sharks  

For Highly Migratory Species Compliance Guide Visit: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/atlantic-highly-migratory-species/atlantic-highly-migratory-species-fishery-compliance-guides
Contact the HMS Division of NOAA Fisheries for more information: 301-427-8503

 

Gulf of Mexico Federal Waters

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council manages fisheries in the federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico Exclusive Economic Zone. Federal waters begin where state waters end and extend to the 200 mile limit of the Gulf of Mexico.

Title 50: Wildlife and Fisheries

Part 600 – Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions
Subpart B – Regional Fishery Management Councils

§ 600.105 Intercouncil boundaries.

(c) South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico Councils. The Boundary coincides with the line of demarcation between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, which begins at the intersection of the outer boundary of the EEZ, as specified in the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and 83°00’ W long., proceeds northward along that meridian to 24° 35’ N lat. (near the Dry Tortugas Islands), thence eastward along that parallel, through Rebecca Shoal and the Quicksand Shoal, to the Marquesas Keys, and then through the Florida Keys to the mainland at the eastern end of Florida Bay, the line so running that the narrow waters within the Dry Tortugas Islands, the Marquesas Keys and the Florida Keys, and between the Florida Keys and the mainland are within the Gulf of Mexico.

State Authority in Federal Waters

A state may regulate vessels that are registered in that state and fishing in federal waters for species for which there are no federal fishery management plans or applicable federal regulations, or for which the appropriate fishery management plan has delegated management of the state and the state rules are consistent with federal regulations.

NOTE: Federally permitted for-hire reef fish vessels must comply with the more restrictive of federal or state reef fish regulations when fishing for reef fish in state waters.

 

Marine Sanctuaries and Area Closures

Note: All coordinates have been converted to degrees, minutes, seconds.

 

Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary

Below is a summary of regulated activity within the FGBNMS. For the full text, contact the Sanctuary office at 409-621-5151 or visit www.flowergarden.noaa.gov.

Fishing and Related Activities
The following activities are generally prohibited:

  • Injuring, catching, harvesting, collecting or feeding, or attempting to injure, catch, harvest, collect or feed, any fish within the sanctuary by use of any gear, device, equipment or means (e.g. spear guns, nets) except by use of conventional hook and line gear.
  • Possessing (except while passing through the sanctuary without interruption) any fishing gear, device, equipment, or means except conventional hook and line gear.
  • Possessing or using explosives or releasing electrical charges within the sanctuary.

Conventional hook and line gear means any fishing apparatus operated aboard a vessel and composed of a single line terminated by a combination of sinkers and hooks or lures and spooled upon a reel that may be hand or electrically operated, hand-held or mounted.

Anchoring and Mooring
The following activities are prohibited:

  • Anchoring any vessel within the Sanctuary.
  • Mooring a vessel over 100 feet in registered length on a Sanctuary mooring buoy.

Discharges
Discharging or depositing any material or other matter within the Sanctuary is prohibited, with the following exceptions:

  • Fish, fish parts, chumming materials or bait used in or resulting from fishing with conventional hook and line gear in the sanctuary.
  • Clean effluent from an operable Type I or Type II marine sanitation devise (MSD).
  • Clean water generated by routine vessel operations (e.g. engine exhaust, cooling water, deck wash down, and gray water), excluding oily wastes from bilge pumping.

Injury to or Possession of Sanctuary Resources
The following activities are generally prohibited:

  • Injuring or removing, or attempting to injure or remove, any coral or other bottom formation, coralline algae or other plant, marine invertebrate (e.g., spiny lobster, queen conch, shell, sea urchin), brine-seep biota or carbonate rock.
  • Possessing within the Sanctuary (regardless of where collected), any coral or other bottom formation, coralline algae or other plant, or fish (except for fish caught by use of conventional hook and line gear).
  • Drilling into, dredging, or otherwise altering the seabed of the sanctuary; or constructing, placing, or abandoning any structure, material, or other matter on the seabed of the Sanctuary.

 

50 CFR: Wildlife and Fisheries – PART 622 FISHERIES OF THE CARIBBEAN, GULF OF MEXICO, AND SOUTH ATLANTIC
§622.34 – Gulf EEZ seasonal and/or area closures.

(j) West and East Flower Garden Banks HAPC. Fishing with a bottom longline, bottom trawl, buoy gear, dredge, pot, or trap and bottom anchoring by fishing vessels are prohibited year-round.
(s) Stetson Bank HAPC. Fishing with a bottom longline, bottom trawl, buoy gear, pot, or trap and bottom anchoring by fishing vessels are prohibited year-round.

 

50 CFR: Wildlife and Fisheries – PART 622 FISHERIES OF THE CARIBBEAN, GULF OF MEXICO, AND SOUTH ATLANTIC
§622.34 – Gulf EEZ seasonal and/or area closures.

(t) McGrail Bank HAPC. Fishing with a bottom longline, bottom trawl, buoy gear, pot, or trap and bottom anchoring by fishing vessels are prohibited year-round.

Fishing with a bottom longline, bottom trawl, buoy gear, pot, or trap and bottom anchoring by fishing vessels are prohibited year-round.

 

Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary

 

Tortugas North and South Ecological Reserves

The following locations are closed to all fishing. Anchoring of fishing vessels is also not allowed. The boundaries of the areas are as follows:

RECREATIONAL Tortugas North

COMMERCIAL Tortugas North

 

Madison Swanson, Steamboat Lumps, and the Edges

50 CFR: Wildlife and Fisheries – PART 622 FISHERIES OF THE CARIBBEAN, GULF OF MEXICO, AND SOUTH ATLANTIC
§622.34 – Gulf EEZ seasonal and/or area closures.

(k) Closure provisions applicable to the Madison and Swanson sites, Steamboat Lumps, and the Edges.

(2) Within the Madison and Swanson sites and Steamboat Lumps, possession of Gulf reef fish is prohibited, except for such possession aboard a vessel in transit with fishing gear stowed as specified in paragraph (k)(4) of this section.

(3) Within the Madison and Swanson sites and Steamboat Lumps during November through April, and within the Edges during January through April, all fishing is prohibited, and possession of any fish species is prohibited, except for such possession aboard a vessel in transit with fishing gear stowed as specified in paragraph (k)(4) of this section. The provisions of this paragraph, (k)(3), do not apply to highly migratory species.

(4) For the purpose of paragraph (k) of this section, transit means non-stop progression through the area; fishing gear appropriately stowed means –
(i) A longline may be left on the drum if all gangions and hooks are disconnected and stowed below deck. Hooks cannot be baited. All buoys must be disconnected from the gear; however, buoys may remain on deck.
(ii) A trawl net may remain on deck, but trawl doors must be disconnected from the trawl gear and must be secured.
(iii) A gillnet must be left on the drum. Any additional gillnets not attached to the drum must be stowed below deck.
(iv) A rod and reel must be removed from the rod holder and stowed securely on or below deck. Terminal gear (i.e., hook, leader, sinker, flasher, or bait) must be disconnected and stowed separately from the rod and reel. Sinkers must be disconnected from the down rigger and stowed separately.

(5) Within the Madison and Swanson sites and Steamboat Lumps, during May through October, surface trolling is the only allowable fishing activity. For the purpose of this paragraph (k)(5), surface trolling is defined as fishing with lines trailing behind a vessel which is in constant motion at speeds in excess of four knots with a visible wake. Such trolling may not involve the use of down riggers, wire lines, planers, or similar devices.

(6) For the purpose of paragraph (k) of this section, fish means finfish, mollusks, crustaceans, and all other forms of marine animal and plant life other than marine mammals and birds. Highly migratory species means tuna species, marlin (Tetrapturus spp. and Makaira spp.), oceanic sharks, sailfishes (Istiophorus spp.), and swordfish (Xiphias gladius).

Madison-Swanson and Steamboat Lumps Reserves are closed to reef-fish fishing year round. Surface trolling for species other than reef fish is allowed May 1 through October 31.

 

The Edges (40 fathom contour)

The Edges (40 fathom contour) is closed January 1 through April 30 to all fishing. The Edges is a 390 nautical square mile region northwest of Steamboat Lumps.

 

The Middle Grounds

50 CFR: Wildlife and Fisheries – PART 622 FISHERIES OF THE CARIBBEAN, GULF OF MEXICO, AND SOUTH ATLANTIC
§622.34 – Gulf EEZ seasonal and/or area closures.

(b) Florida middle grounds HAPC. Fishing with a bottom longline, bottom trawl, dredge, pot, or trap is prohibited year round.

 

 

Pulley Ridge

50 CFR: Wildlife and Fisheries – PART 622 FISHERIES OF THE CARIBBEAN, GULF OF MEXICO, AND SOUTH ATLANTIC
§622.34 – Gulf EEZ seasonal and/or area closures.

(r) Pulley Ridge HAPC. Fishing with a bottom longline, bottom trawl, buoy gear, pot, or trap and bottom anchoring by fishing vessels are prohibited year-round in the HAPC.

 

 

Reef Fish Stressed Areas

A powerhead may not be used in the stressed area to take Gulf reef fish. A roller trawl may not be used in the stressed area.

Commercial – Bottom Longline Closures

50 CFR: Wildlife and Fisheries – PART 622 FISHERIES OF THE CARIBBEAN, GULF OF MEXICO, AND SOUTH ATLANTIC
§622.34 – Gulf EEZ seasonal and/or area closures.

(q) Prohibitions applicable to bottom longline fishing for Gulf reef fish.

(1) From June through August each year, bottom longlining for Gulf reef fish is prohibited in the portion of the Gulf EEZ east of 85°30’ W. longitude

(2) Within the prohibited area and time period specified in paragraph (q)(1) of this section, a vessel with bottom longline gear on board may not possess Gulf reef fish unless the bottom longline gear is appropriately stowed, and a vessel that is using bottom longline gear to fish for species other than Gulf reef fish may not possess Gulf reef fish. For the purposes of paragraph (q) of this section, appropriately stowed means that a longline may be left on the drum if all gangions and hooks are disconnected and stowed below deck; hooks cannot be baited; and all buoys must be disconnected from the gear but may remain on deck.

(3) Within the Gulf EEZ east of 85°30’ W. longitude, a vessel for which a valid eastern Gulf reef fish bottom longline endorsement has been issued that is fishing bottom longline gear or has bottom longline gear on board cannot possess more than a total of 1000 hooks including hooks on board the vessel and hooks being fished and cannot possess more than 750 hooks rigged for fishing at any given time. For the purpose of this paragraph, “hooks rigged for fishing” means hooks attached to a line or other device capable of attaching to the mainline of the longline.

(c) Reef fish longline and buoy gear restricted area. A person aboard a vessel that uses, on any trip, longline or buoy gear in the longline and buoy gear restricted area is limited on that trip to the bag limits for Gulf reef fish specified in §622.38(b) and, for Gulf reef fish for which no bag limit is specified in §622.38(b), the vessel is limited to 5 percent, by weight, of all fish on board or landed.

NOTE: A bottom longline endorsement is required to fish for reef fish east of Cape San Blas, Florida. The use of longlines and buoy gear for reef fish is prohibited inside of 50 fathoms west of Cape San Blas, Florida. East of Cape San Blas, the use of longlines and buoy gear for reef fish is prohibited inside of 20 fathoms year round and 35 fathoms during June – August (see next page). Vessels fishing within this zone and posessing longlines or buoy gear may not exceed the recreational bag limits, and for reef fish without a bag limit, 5% by weight of all fish aboard.

 

From June through August each year, bottom longlining for Gulf reef fish is prohibited in the portion of the Gulf EEZ east of 85°30’ W longitude (Cape San Blas).

Additional Rules
 

Vessel Monitoring Systems are required onboard all vessels with federal commercial permits for Gulf reef fish, including charter vessels/headboats that also have a commercial reef fish permit.

 

 

Entangling nets may not be used for directed harvest of reef fish.

 

 

Reef Fish taken under recreational bag limit may not be sold.

 

 

Commercial vessels are prohibited from retaining reef fish caught under the recreational size and bag/possession limit when commercial quantities of Gulf reef fish are on board.

 

 

Reef fish as bait is prohibited.

 

 

Reef fish gear is limited to no more than 3 hooks in a special management zone off Alabama. Nonconforming gear is restricted to bag limits, or for reef fish without a bag limit, to 5% by weight of all fish onboard.

 

 

Vessels with shrimp trawls or entangling net gear onboard may not exceed the recreational reef fish bag limits.

 

 

All fish except for bait and oceanic migratory species taken from federal waters must have heads and fins intact through landing. Up to 1.5 pounds of legal finfish exempt from this rule for personal consumption at sea provided the vessel is equipped to cook such finfish.

 

 

A state may regulate vessels that are registered in that state and that are fishing in federal waters for species for which there are no federal fishery management plans or applicable federal regulations.

 

 

Operators of vessels with Gulf of Mexico reef fish commercial or charter vessel/headboat permits must comply with guidelines for proper care and release of incidentally caught smalltooth sawfish and sea turtles and possess onboard specific gear to ensure proper release of such species.

 

 

There is no limit on the total number of hooks kept onboard bottom longline vessels, however, the number of hooks rigged for fishing is limited to 750.

 

Two-Day Bag Limit  

Persons on qualified charter vessels or headboats with two captains for trips in excess of 24 hours may possess a 2-day bag limit of reef fish, king mackerel, and Spanish mackerel. One-day bag limits apply to all other species and trips, regardless of length.

 

Head & Fins Attached  

All fish, except for bait and oceanic migratory species, taken from federal waters must have heads and fins intact through landing. Up to 1.5 pounds of legal finfish per person is exempt from this rule for personal consumption at sea, provided the vessel is equipped to cook such finfish.

 

Federally Permitted For-Hire Reef Fish Vessels  

Federally permitted for-hire reef fish vessels must comply with the more restrictive of federal or state reef fish regulations when fishing for reef fish in state waters.

 

Reef Fish as Bait  

The use of federally managed reef fish as bait is prohibited.

 

Gear  

The use of federally managed reef fish as bait is prohibited.

 

Sale of Recreationally Caught Reef Fish  

Reef fish taken under the recreational bag limit may not be sold.

 

Care and Release of Incidental Catch of Smalltooth Sawfish and Sea Turtles  

Operators of vessels with Gulf of Mexico reef fish commercial or charter vessel/headboat permits must comply with guidelines for proper care and release of incidentally caught smalltooth sawfish and sea turtles and must possess onboard specific gear to ensure proper release of such species.