Chair’s Column: Summer 2019

(NEWSLETTER - Summer 2019)


It’s summertime, and while the weather might not always be perfect, here’s to hoping the bite is!  If you are a recreational fisherman, maybe you participated in this year’s federal recreational red snapper season. Or maybe you’ve gone trolling for kingfish or strapped on the tank and went spearfishing for greater amberjack. If you’re a commercial harvester, I’m sure your summer has been busy with the reopening of several snapper grouper species and spiny lobster.


If you’re bottom fishing this summer, we’d like to encourage both recreational and commercial fishermen to continue using best fishing practices. Look out for fish showing signs of barotrauma and be prepared to respond. Barotrauma is a potentially lethal condition seen in many fish caught in waters greater than 30 feet that is caused by expansion of gases in the swim bladder. Signs of barotrauma include the stomach coming out of the mouth, bulging eyes, bloated belly, and distended intestines. You can help fish overcome barotrauma by using a descending device or venting tool. Both Florida Sea Grant and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) have put together a helpful series of videos about barotrauma, descending devices, and venting tools. To see them, visit Florida Sea Grant’s YouTube channel at or FWC’s YouTube channel at


We continue to seek solutions to the high level of recreational discards which affects stock status and availability of fish to both commercial and recreational fishermen. In July, many of us were at ICAST, the world’s largest sportfishing trade show where the latest innovations in fishing gear, accessories, and apparel are showcased. During this week-long event, we built new and strengthened old relationships with the sportfishing industry and shared our success stories and challenges. The sportfishing industry is a great partner in conservation and management of our fisheries, and they can help us find solutions to some of our biggest challenges such as recreational discards. For example, they have funded an education campaign to promote use of descending devices and they have helped promote voluntary recreational reporting. Additionally, your purchases of the tackle and gear they manufacture helps fund habitat and stock restoration through the federal Sportfish Restoration Program. Havingboth recreational and commercial fishermen using descending devices and best fishing practices will benefit both sectors.


The last thing I want to mention is that the Council is considering changes for the red snapper season, including when the season occurs and how it is set up. For example, the recreational and commercial season start dates could be moved earlier or later in the year. Other options include spreading the recreational season across a longer time frame, such as taking this year’s five days and setting the season to be five Saturdays instead of two weekends. Public hearings were held via webinar earlier this month for Snapper Grouper Regulatory Amendment 33. The Council will review the comments and consider additional public input during its September 16-20 meeting in Charleston. What are your thoughts and suggestions? Read comments received during public hearings at: Submit your own comments as part of the September Council meeting:


Got something else on your mind? Drop us a note on our contact us page:  We look forward to hearing from your soon.


Tight lines,

Jessica McCawley

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