Fishing News March 2023

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Apply for the 2023 Youth Scholarship Program
Applications for the 2023 Y.S.P. are NOW OPEN! Current high school sophomores and juniors are encouraged to apply for the program taking place June 11 – 15.

The Y.S.P. is an all-inclusive educational experience. Students will learn from marine biologists, conservationists, businessmen and women who are leaders in the fishing industry and more. Plus, the students will be able to have some fun with a fishing trip and other local activities. The Y.S.P. is also an opportunity for students to earn college scholarships. Students will compete throughout the week based on merit, attention, focus, creativity, speeches and more.

This educational program will take place in Orlando and students must provide their own transportation to and from Orlando. Meals, accommodations and activity expenses will be covered by CCA Florida. To learn more, visit ccaflorida.org/event/ysp/.

Gray Triggerfish and Spotted Seatrout Now Open for Recreational Harvest
Gray triggerfish opened in Gulf state and federal waters March 1. If you plan to fish for gray triggerfish in state or federal waters from a private recreational vessel, you must sign up as a State Reef Fish Angler (annual renewal is required). To learn more, visit MyFWC.com/Marine and click on “Recreational Regulations” and “State Reef Fish Survey” under “Reef Fish.” Sign up today at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com.

Spotted seatrout reopened in the Western Panhandle Management Region, which includes all state and adjacent federal waters from Escambia County through the portion of Gulf County west of 85 degrees, 13.76 minutes west longitude but NOT including Indian Pass/Indian Lagoon.

Learn more about recreational fishing regulations at MyFWC.com/Marine by clicking on “Recreational Regulations” or download the Fish Rules App at Instagram.com/FishRules or Facebook.com/FishRulesApp.

Keep Crabs In and Terrapins Out
The FWC rule for recreational crab traps went into effect March 1 where recreational crab traps in Florida will be required to have rigid funnel openings no larger than 2 x 6 inches at the narrowest point or 2 x 6-inch bycatch reduction devices installed to reduce accidental trapping of diamondback terrapins, which has been a significant threat to the species.
The rule was approved by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) in December 2021. It is part of a larger effort to conserve terrapins, a small turtle species found in brackish waters across the state.

Studies have shown that BRDs can greatly decrease incidental terrapin mortality by preventing them from entering crab traps, while still allowing blue crab catch. With this requirement, the FWC hopes to ensure the continued survival and recovery of terrapin populations in Florida. BRDs can be installed on existing crab traps and a limited supply of these devices are available for free to Florida’s recreational crabbers. Contact FWC’s Division of Marine Fisheries Management by phone at 850-487-0554 or by email at Marine@MyFWC.com for more information on where to get BRDs at no cost.

Diamondback terrapins are medium-sized turtles that live in brackish water habitats statewide, including salt marshes, barrier islands, mangrove swamps, tidal creeks and rivers. They eat a variety of foods including snails, crabs, clams, mussels, worms, fish and plants. Five of the seven subspecies occur in Florida, three of which can be found nowhere else in the world. More information on diamondback terrapins can be found at MyFWC.com/Terrapin.

For recreational blue crab trap regulations, visit MyFWC.com/Marine and click on “Recreational Regulations” and “Blue Crab” under the “Crabs, Lobster and other Shellfish.”