One of the most unpopular fishing closures in the Florida Keys begins Monday.
Most species of grouper coveted by anglers and commercial fishers become off limits to harvest starting Jan. 1 in state and federal waters of the Atlantic Ocean around the Keys. The annual winter closed season on shallow-water grouper runs until May 1.
Black and red grouper, prized as a food fish, are among the species. Other affected grouper are gag, yellowmouth, yellowfin, tiger, scamp, red hind, rock hind, coney and graysby.
“The harvest closure was established to ensure the long-term sustainability of Atlantic grouper species by protecting them during their spawning season,” said a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman.
Some of the grouper species are believed to be overfished. Other groupers were banned to prevent an accidental harvest of the threatened species.
In other Florida fishing notes, the recreational harvest season for snook closed Dec. 15 in Atlantic state and federal waters. The winter closure, intended to protect snook that turn sluggish in cold water, ends Jan. 31. It is not illegal to fish for snook during the closure but the game fish must be released alive.
Commercial harvests of hogfish can resume Monday in the Keys and along Florida’s Atlantic coast, but ends once federal managers calculate that the stock’s annual commercial catch limit of 4,524 pounds, whole weight, is reached. Commercial fishers are limited to 25 pounds of hogfish per day.
Recreational harvest of hogfish is closed until May 1. During the season that ends Oct. 31, the daily recreational limit is one fish per day. An earlier closure is possible.
Kevin Wadlow: 305-440-3206