Tarpon and Bonefish Gain New Protections in Florida

Wildlife commissioners approve new regulations to make tarpon and bonefish catch-and-release-only.

Tarpon Catch and Release

Tarpon Catch and Release

Pat Ford

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), unanimously approved new regulations to make tarpon and bonefish catch-and-release-only fisheries. The deliberations by commission members on June 12 were brief and entirely supportive, reports the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust.

"This is the most significant thing we can do for tarpon,” said Commissioner Brian Yablonski.

Following their favorable ruling, Chairman Kenneth Wright added, “There will be a chapter written in a book about what this commission did today.”

Groups such as the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust are pleased with the outcome, which protects tarpon in Florida waters, and extends catch and release regulations into the federal waters off of Florida.

“It took teamwork on many levels to get these new regulations enacted,” said Tom Davidson, BTT’s Chairman, “and we are very thankful for the commissioners’ forward-thinking actions. These new regulations have brightened the future for Florida’s bonefish and tarpon fisheries.”

The newly adopted regulations include the following provisions:

  • Eliminating all harvest of tarpon with the exception of the harvest or possession of a single tarpon when in pursuit of an IGFA record and in conjunction with a tarpon tag.
  • Keeping the tarpon tag price at $50 per tag but limiting them to one tag per person, per year.
  • Modifying the tarpon tag program, including reporting requirements and shifting the start and end date for when the tarpon tag is valid.
  • Requiring that tarpon remain in the water and are released near the site of capture.
  • BONEFISH: Discontinuing the bonefish tournament exemption permit that allows tournament anglers to temporarily possess bonefish for transport to a tournament scale (this brings the state in line with similar rules in the National Parks in the Keys).