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FWC ups limit on red drum

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 Recreational anglers targeting red drum in northern Florida can soon take home more of the popular fish, thanks to a change approved Nov. 16 by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

The decision came during the first day of the two-day November Commission meeting in Key Largo.

 The changes take effect Feb. 1, 2012, and include the following:

• Create three management areas for red drum (the northwest, the northeast and the south) instead of one statewide management area;

• Increase the number of red drum that a recreational fisherman can take per day in the northeast and northwest regions of the state from one to two red drum;

• Establish a statewide vessel limit of eight red drum;

• Limit the number of red drum that can be transported on land to six red drum per person.

These rule changes are the result of a successful management strategy that began in 1989, when the species was considered severely overfished.

“This is our version of having a listed protected species and being able to take it off that list. This is a success story,” said Commissioner Brian Yablonski about the increased recreational fishing opportunity. “If ever there was a moment to give back, this is it.”

A 2009-10 red drum stock assessment completed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute showed that red drum escapement rates (the proportion of fish surviving through age 4 relative to the number that would have survived to that age if there were no fishery) have been consistently above the FWC’s 40-percent management goal in the northern regions of the state.

Other recreational red drum rules will remain the same, including a slot limit of 18 to 27 inches and a one-red-drum bag limit in the southern part of the state.

To learn more about red drum recreational fishing visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater Fishing” and then “Recreational Regulations.”