With the implementation of the new Bonefish regulations at the September 1st meeting of the FWC Commissioners, additional protections for Bonefish will come into effect.
As with the new Tarpon regulations, the new Bonefish regulations were months in the making. Public outreach, data gathering, multiple commission meetings, all had to take place to arrive at the new regulations.
KeysKeeper participated extensively in the process. As with Tarpon, the potentially volatile issue was the new regulations that surround the handling of caught fish and the impact those regulations would have on tournament rules.
The Lower Keys Guides Association moved quickly to support the new regulations. KeysKeeper provided transportation for guides and attended the outreach event in Marathon. All four directors of KeysKeeper flew to Tallahassee to attend the commission meeting where the draft language was discussed. Two of the directors drove to Lakeland for the commission meeting where the new regulations where adopted. KeysKeeper personnel represented the Lower Keys Guides Association at both these meetings.
The new Bonefish regulations are as follows:
- The tournament exemption permit which allowed for the transport of bonefish to a measurement scale is eliminated
- Florida regulations are extended to Federal waters.
- Hook and line is the only gear that can be used for bonefish
- Bonefish are still prohibited for harvest
- Temporary possession of a single bonefish is allowed for measurement, weighing, and photography, and then released at the site of capture
Bonefish populations have been declining in the Keys for decades. There are a variety of explanations offered by the scientific community. None are easily tested and an accurate, tested scientific explanation of the problem(s) is still years away.
KeysKeeper has worked with Aaron Adams at Bonefish and Tarpon Trust and is proposing to work with BTT to initiate a major new thrust to act to solve the immediate problem – we need more replacement bonefish in the Keys. (Link to What’s Happening Now.)