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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

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Collaborate with FWC on Exempted Fishing Permits to collect better data on red snapper

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has been awarded three Exempted Fishing Permits by NOAA Fisheries to conduct three unique studies. The studies will collect better data on Atlantic red snapper and other snapper-grouper species to improve management of these critical species in the south Atlantic. EFPs are permits that allow harvesting for specific purposes that are otherwise prohibited under current federal regulations. These studies will enable FWC to collaborate with anglers, test innovative ways to reduce red snapper discards, increase harvest opportunities and improve angler satisfaction. The FWC recognizes that a 1-day federal Atlantic red snapper season is disappointing, but in these studies, some participants will be selected to catch (and keep!) red snapper during a time that works for you!    

The three studies of this project will take place off Florida’s east coast from the Florida/Georgia line south to the Dry Tortugas. Two studies, the FWC Study Fleet and the FWC Hot Spot Fleet, will be conducted from the Florida/Georgia line south to the NASA Assembly building in Cape Canaveral. The third study, named the FWC Southeast Florida Snapper Grouper Fleet, will be conducted from the NASA Assembly building south to the Dry Tortugas. Each study is somewhat different, but all focus on testing an aggregate snapper-grouper bag limit to reduce discards, improved reporting of catch and discard information via an FWC app, and evaluating angler satisfaction of EFP participants relative to those who have to abide by federal regulations. Anglers will be selected quarterly, and the project is projected to run through August 2025.

“For years, FWC has heard that anglers want to directly provide data to improve the management of Atlantic red snapper,” said FWC Chairman Rodney Barreto. “This is your opportunity to do so! Your participation is not just desired; it’s essential for these studies to be a success and improve management.”

“Like you, FWC is frustrated with the current state of Atlantic red snapper management. We recognize that people are seeing more red snapper than ever on the water. These particular EFPs try to turn discarded fish into landed catch and improve angler satisfaction by testing different management measures. We hope you will join us and directly contribute to improving fisheries management in the south Atlantic,” said Jessica McCawley, Director of FWC’s Division of Marine Fisheries Management.

The FWC strongly encourages recreational saltwater anglers to apply to participate through the Go Outdoors Florida application or by visiting MyFWC.com/AtlanticEFP for more information. The application process is designed to be simple and straightforward, ensuring that everyone can easily apply. The first application period is open July 8-17, with three additional application periods that will open this October plus in January and April of 2025. The application period will remain open for 10 days, and participants will be selected by a lottery system. If you have any questions about the application process, please don’t hesitate to contact us at the DMFM main office at 850-487-0554. 

The FWC is incredibly excited to offer this unique opportunity. This collaboration has the potential to make a significant difference and improve fisheries management in the south Atlantic, giving us all hope for a better future.

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Staff Reporter

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