Several mutton snapper management changes go into effect Jan. 1, 2017. These changes were approved at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's September meeting:
•Recreational, commercial, importation and sale minimum size limits will be 18 inches in all state waters.
•The recreational bag limit will be five fish per person within the 10-fish snapper aggregate bag limit in all state waters.
•The commercial trip limit will be five fish per person, per day or per trip from April through June in Atlantic state waters (this will replace the prior May through June commercial trip limit that was effective for all state waters).
•A 500-pound commercial trip limit is in effect for the remainder of the year (July through March) in Atlantic state waters.
Though mutton snapper is not overfished or undergoing overfishing, the 2015 stock assessment indicated that the population is smaller than previously estimated. Atlantic federal fishery managers recently approved measures that would make Atlantic federal regulations similar to the recent state changes.
Gulf federal fishery managers are also considering making similar measures for Gulf federal waters. These changes are intended to prevent harvest from exceeding the planned federal quotas, or the number of fish that can be harvested.