Georgia’s DNR is asking the public to comment on important regulation changes to reduce the harvest of red drum along the Peach State coast.
The Coastal Resources Division of DNR recommended Aug. 23 to the state Board of Natural Resources to reduce the daily limit of red drum for anglers from five fish to three fish, with a boat limit of no more than nine redfish.
Further, no charter captains nor mates may participate in the catch or limit of redfish when on a for-hire charter.
No changes in the slot size limit for reds in Georgia is proposed, and the current slot would remain at 14- to 23-inches with no closed season.
The proposed Georgia redfish fishing law changes are still in play, according to DNR, and at least two public hearings are on tap before the proposals become state law on Jan. 1, 2023.
The hearings are planned for Sept. 21 in Savannah at the Georgia Southern University’s Armstrong Center. And on Sept. 22, 2022 at the College of Coastal Georgia’s Campus Center in Brunswick. Both meetings begin at 6 p.m.
Comments on the proposed changes can be made on line, or with details for written mail-in written input by visiting: CoastalGaDNR.org/RedDrumPublicHearings.
Georgia’s DNR conducted a survey and two town hall meetings in 2022 to learn how state anglers and guides feel about Georgia’s redfish fishery.
According to DNR, most anglers and guides participating in the survey and meetings supported creating a vessel limit for red drum. DNR estimates that a new nine-fish vessel limit, and three-fish angler harvest limit could reduce Georgia’s redfish take by 11 percent. The agency says that most anglers would not be significantly affected because most fishermen have only two or three anglers per boat.
The proposed Georgia redfish harvest reductions come on the heels of a broad and comprehensive Florida state revamping of redfish regulations. In Florida, 9 different coastal redfish management zones go into effect Sept. 1, with differing harvest allocations in various zones around the state.
In Northeast Florida, which has very similar coastal river, marsh and estuarine habitats as neighboring Georgia, the angler daily limit on Florida redfish will be reduced from two fish daily, to just one per day. A four redfish vessel limit also will be imposed in Northeast Florida beginning Sept. 1. The slot limit for redfish in Florida remains the same, 18 to 27 inches in length, which is significantly different than Georgia’s smaller redfish slot limit.
Both states say they are reacting to tremendous increases in fishing pressure from a seemingly never-ending surge in population following the COVID-19 pandemic. More people bring more anglers to the coast, and both states are trying to stem a tide of increased pressure on fishery resources, especially for highly sought-after red drum.