Stricter Bottomfish Regulations Approved in Florida

Changes include reduced bag limits for Atlantic red porgy, snowy grouper and blueline tilefish.
Snowy grouper, usually caught deep-dropping, will receive increased protections in Florida state waters, with vessel limits maxing out at one per day. Doug Olander

State fish regulators, at a February meeting in Jacksonville, agreed to stricter regulations for three recreationally caught bottomfish on the Atlantic Coast. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved a rule tightening limits for red porgy, snowy grouper and blueline tilefish in Florida’s Atlantic state waters.

The changes include:

  • A reduced red porgy bag limit from 3 to 1 fish per person per day and creating an open season from May to June.
  • A reduced snowy grouper bag limit from 1 fish per person per day to 1 fish per vessel per day and creating an open season from May to June.
  • A reduced blueline tilefish bag limit from 3 to 2 fish per person per day and prohibiting for-hire captains and crews from retaining a bag limit.

All red porgy, snowy grouper and blueline tilefish changes were made to be consistent with Atlantic federal waters. Atlantic federal waters start 3 miles off the coast of Florida. The new red porgy limits start on April 1, 2023 in state waters. The snowy grouper and blueline tilefish (also called grey tilefish) regulations will go into effect at a future date, once pending federal regulations have been implemented.

Atlantic Blueline Tilefish
Not many blueline tilefish are caught in Florida state waters, but just in case, state and federal regulations on Florida’s east coast will soon be the same. Sam Hudson

One positive note to the bottomfish regulation changes is that the updates will help simplify enforcement. Now, an FWC officer back at the ramp won’t have to try to figure out how far offshore anglers caught their fish and if the anglers properly followed differing state and federal regulations. With regulations streamlined, it won’t matter where you caught species such as red porgy, snowy grouper or blueline tilefish — the bag limits will be the same.

“Consistent regulations between state and federal waters can help improve the stock status of these fisheries, prevent federal closures while allowing harvest opportunities coast-wide, and aid in enforcement,” said the FWC.

Last year, the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) approved management changes to help rebuild red porgy and snowy grouper stocks, which they consider overfished and undergoing overfishing. The SAFMC also wanted to reduce the risk of overfishing for blueline tilefish.