Management Zones

How Well Do You Know Yours?

FSF Staff June 30, 2015

While almost all of Florida’s wide ranging sport fish are protected by seasonal closures, bag limits or size limits, there are several species that feature increased protection throughout different regions of the state. It’s easy to see why robust fisheries are critical to successful time on the water, but it is only through angler participation that conservation success stories will continue to flourish. Regulations can indeed be confusing as they are always changing, but ignorance is not an excuse and fishery violations are completely avoidable. When traveling throughout the state of Florida it’s important you are aware of the special management zones in place to protect our greatest resources.

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Management measures for gag grouper are some of the most stringent, but benefit anglers with the goal of rebuilding populations for long-term sustainability.

Zone Breakdown

Determining whether you are fishing in the Gulf of Mexico or Atlantic Ocean is fairly obvious, but where exactly do waters converge? As defined by the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Councils, the Atlantic Ocean covers all state and federal waters south and east of the boundary line created at the intersection of the outermost edge of the Exclusive Economic Zone and 83°00′ W longitude. This invisible line separating Gulf and Atlantic waters continues north along the meridian of 83°00′ W to its point of intersection at 24°35′ N latitude. From this point, which is near the Dry Tortugas, the parallel continues east through Rebecca Shoal to 82°13′ W longitude. Now follow the territorial sea boundary south and east to the intersecting point of 24°33′ N latitude and continue along this parallel to Key West.

Gag Grouper

Atlantic State and Federal Waters (including Monroe County)
Min. Size Limit: 24″
Daily Bag Limit: 1 per person
Closed Season: Jan. 1 – Apr. 30

Gulf of Mexico State Waters
Min. Size Limit: 22″
Daily Bag Limit: 2 per person
Closed Season: Open July 1 – Dec. 3

Gulf of Mexico Federal Waters
Min. Size Limit: 22″
Daily Bag Limit: 2 per person
Closed Season: Open July 1 – TBD

Notes: Gulf Coast special management zone state waters off Franklin, Wakulla, Jefferson and Taylor Counties open Apr. 1 – June 30

Scamp Grouper

Atlantic State and Federal Waters (including Monroe County)
Min. Size Limit: 20″
Daily Bag Limit: 3 per person
Closed Season: Jan. 1 – Apr. 30

Gulf of Mexico
Min. Size Limit: 16″
Daily Bag Limit: 4 per person
Closed Season: Feb. 1 – Mar. 31 (seaward of 20 fathom line)

Black Grouper

Atlantic State and Federal Waters (including Monroe County)
Min. Size Limit: 24″
Daily Bag Limit: 1 per person
Closed Season: Jan. 1 – Apr. 30

Gulf of Mexico
Min. Size Limit: 22″
Daily Bag Limit: 4 per person
Closed Season: Feb. 1 – Mar. 31 (seaward of 20 fathom line)

Tiger Grouper, Rock Hind, Red Hind, Coney, Graysby

Atlantic State and Federal Waters (including Monroe County)
Min. Size Limit: none
Daily Bag Limit: 3 per person
Closed Season: Jan. 1 – Apr. 30

Gulf of Mexico
Min. Size Limit: none
Daily Bag Limit: 4 per person
Closed Season: none

*Several species of Atlantic grouper, including red, black, yellowfin, yellowmouth, scamp, rock hind, red hind, coney, graysby and tiger, are off limits from January 1 – April 30 in all state and federal waters of the Atlantic. This includes state waters off Monroe County on both the Gulf and Atlantic. During this seasonal closure, anglers can harvest grouper in open federal waters of the Gulf and return to port in Monroe County by traveling through closed state waters of the Gulf as long as the vessel proceeds directly to port without stopping to fish.

*Atlantic bag limit is three grouper per person, in any combination of species.

*Gulf bag limit is four grouper per person, in any combination of species.

Snook

Zone Breakdown
Atlantic – State and federal waters of the Atlantic Ocean north and east of the Dade-Monroe County line, and all inland waters of the counties encompassed by the St. Johns River Water Management District, and the South Florida Water Management District, except Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry, Highlands, Lee, and Monroe Counties, but including all waters of Lake Okeechobee and the Kissimmee River.

Gulf – All state and federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the inland waters of Charlotte, Collier, Hendry, Highlands, Lee, Monroe Counties, and all counties encompassed by the Southwest Florida Water Management District, the Suwannee River Management District, the Northwest Florida Water Management District, and all waters of Everglades National Park.

Atlantic
Minimum Size Limit: Not less than 28″ and no more than 32″ (total length)
Daily Bag Limit: 1 per person
Closed Season Dec. 15 – Jan. 31, June 1 – Aug. 31

Gulf of Mexico (including Monroe County)
Minimum Size Limit: Not less than 28″ and no more than 33″ (total length)
Daily Bag Limit: 1 per person
Closed Season: Dec. 1 – Feb. 28, May 1 – Aug. 31

Notes: Snook stamp required for harvest during open season

Permit

Zone Breakdown
The Special Permit Zone includes state and federal waters south of Cape Florida in the Atlantic and south of Cape Sable in the Gulf.

Permit Management Zone
Minimum Size Limit: 22″ fork length
Daily Bag Limit: 1 per person, not to exceed 2 per vessel
Closed Season: Dec. 1 – Feb. 28, May 1 – Aug. 31

Waters Outside Management Zone
Minimum Size Limit: Not less than 11″ and no more than 22
Daily Bag Limit: 2 per person
Closed Season: Dec. No closed season

Notes: May possess 1 over 22″ fork length outside the SPZ, not to exceed 2 over 22″ fork per vessel per day.

Sea Trout

Zone Breakdown
Northwest – Escambia County through Fred Howard Park Causeway near Pasco County Southwest – Fred Howard Park Causeway through Monroe County line at Card Sound
Southeast – Miami-Dade County at Card Sound through Volusia County
Northeast – Flagler through Nassau Counties

Northeast Zone
Minimum Size Limit: Not less than 15″ and no more than 20″ (total length).
Daily Bag Limit: 6 per harvester per day
Closed Season: No closed season

Northwest Zone
Minimum Size Limit: Not less than 15″ and no more than 20″ (total length).
Daily Bag Limit: 5 per harvester per day
Closed Season: No closed season

Southeast and Southwest Zones
Minimum Size Limit: Not less than 15″ and no more than 20″ (total length).
Daily Bag Limit: 4 per harvester per day
Closed Season: No closed season

Notes: Allowed to keep one fish over 20″ per angler per day

Redfish

Zone Breakdown
Northwest – Escambia through Fred Howard Park Causeway near Pasco County
South – Fred Howard Park Causeway through Monroe County and Miami-Dade through Volusia Counties
Northeast – Flagler through Nassau Counties

Northeast Zone
Minimum Size Limit: Not less than 18″ no more than 27″ (total length).
Daily Bag Limit: 2 fish per person or 8 fish vessel limit
Closed Season: No closed season

Northwest Zone
Minimum Size Limit: Not less than 18″ no more than 27″ (total length).
Daily Bag Limit: 2 fish per person or 8 fish vessel limit
Closed Season: No closed season

South Zone
Minimum Size Limit: Not less than 18″ no more than 27″ (total length).
Daily Bag Limit: 1 fish per person or 8 fish vessel limit
Closed Season: No closed season

Notes: 6 fish per person transport limit applies when traveling in a vehicle on land away from a fishing site.

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