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Awash in new closures: a tidal wave of reef fish restrictions sweeps across the state.

As anglers on both coasts stare down the barrel of more reef fish season closures, it's worth remembering that hundreds of square miles of ocean have been closed to all bottom fishing, in some cases all fishing of any kind, in recent years.

It's a scattershot approach fisheries managers are taking, with micro-managed decisions made before the impacts of past decisions have been evaluated. The most recent closure is a swath of the Gulf of Mexico known as The Edges. Here, no fishing is permitted between Jan. 1 through Apr. 30, ostensibly to protect spawning gag grouper. The same rule that enacted The Edges closure took away end dates for the nearby Madison/Swanson and Steamboat Lumps closures. Bizzarely, or should we say predictably, fisheries managers this year implemented a Gulf-wide recreational grouper season closure from Feb. 1 through Apt. 1. And, they took away an existing one-month commercial season closure, justifying the move by closing The Edges district.

That's right--Gulf commercial fishers can land grouper, smaller ones, too, while sportsmen may not. On and on it goes.

Where YOU Can't Fish

Madison/Swanson Reserve: Closed to all fishing Nov. 1-Apr. 30. Surface trolling allowed May 1-Oct. 31.

GULF WATERS Rec. grouper season closed Feb.-Mar. in Limited summer red snapper season

The Edges: As of June 2009, no fishing Jan. 1-Apr. 30. Overlaps N. edge of Steamboat Lumps, same closure as Madison/Swanson.

Tortugas N. Ecological Zone: 90 square nautical miles closed to all fishing since 2001--plus 46 more added by National Park Service in 2007.

Tortugas S. Ecological Zone: 60 square nautical miles. Has been closed to all fishing since 2001.

North Florida MPA: 100 square miles, closed as of Jan. 2009. No bottom fishing, ever.

ATLANTIC WATERS Fed. waters grouper season Closed Jan-Apr. Vermilion Snapper closed Nov-Mar. Red snapper closure

Oculina Closed Area: 92 square miles closed to bottom fishing since 1994.

St. Lucie Hump MPA: 8 square miles closed year-round to bottom fishing as of Jan. 2009.

Western Sambos Reserve: No fishing of any kind, ever. Part of original Keys Sanctuary, 1997.

East Hump MPA: 50 square miles closed to bottom fishing, as of Jan. 2009.

For coordinates and updates, see and
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Title Annotation:On the Conservation Front: News and commentary from the environmental battlegrounds; Florida
Publication:Florida Sportsman
Geographic Code:1U5FL
Date:Sep 1, 2009
Previous Article:Who needs veal when they have good fish? When the substitute outshines the main player.
Next Article:Bulletpoints from the front: faceoffs in court and Congress over fishery closures.

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