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Marine Fish Kill Hotline 1-800-636-0511

DEP Resource Protection Hotlines
Enviro-Line: 800-828-9338
Fish Kills: 800-636-0511
Fish Tags: 800-367-4461
Florida Marine Patrol: 800-DIAL-FMP

  Basic Recreational Saltwater Fishing Regulations

Because local regulations governing the taking of saltwater products may exist, you should contact the Florida Marine Patrol (FMP) Field Office nearest the location where you will be engaging in these fishing activities.  This is a brief summary of regulations governing the taking of saltwater species in Florida for personal use. It is not intended or designed to provide specific information on commercial harvesting of these species. The failure to include complete laws, rules and regulations in this summary does not relieve persons from abiding by those laws, rules or regulations. All measurements will be considered total length unless otherwise specified. Total length definition shall apply to the particular species being measured. Definition of total length varies from species to species.

Species Size Limit Closed Season Daily Recreational Bag Limit Remarks
Amberjack, Greater 28" Fork   1 per person per day W
Amberjack, Lesser Not Less than 14" Fork
or more than 20" Fork
  5 aggregate of lesser amberjack and banded rudderfish W
Banded Rudderfish Not Less than 14" Fork
or more than 20" Fork
  5 aggregate of lesser amberjack and banded rudderfish W
Billfish NEW
Sailfish 63"

Blue Marlin 99"
White Marlin 66"
  1 per person per day aggregate billfish bag limit Species include Marlin, Spearfish, and Sailfish. Federal Size limits apply.
Black Drum Not Less than 14"
or more than 24"
  5 per person per day May posses one over 24"
Bluefish 12" Fork   10 per person per day W
Bonefish 18"   1 per person per day  
Clams-Hard 1" thick across hinge   One 5-gallon bucket per person or 2 per vessel, whichever is lesser per day Illegal to harvest from closed areas. Call FMP for current information.
Cobia (Ling) 33" Fork   2 per person per day W
Crab, Blue     10 gallons whole per day 5 traps maximum. Trap requirements apply. Harvest of egg-bearing crabs prohibited.
Crab, Stone 2 3/4" Claw May 15 - October 15 1 gallon Stone Crab claws per person or 2 gallons per vessel, whichever is less 5 traps maximum. Trap requirements apply. Illegal to process whole crab. Harvest of egg-bearing crabs prohibited.
Crawfish (Spiny Lobster) Larger than 3" carapace, measured in the water April 1 - August 5
Exception: Sportsman's Season--last successive wed-thur of July each year
24 per vessel or 6 per person, whichever is greater Recreational trapping prohibited. Crawfish permit required. Call FMP for special bag limit for Sportsman's Season.
Dolphin     10 per person per day G
Flounder 12"   10 per person per day May be harvested by spearing.
Gray Triggerfish 12"     G
Grouper 20"
  5 aggregate bag of all species per person per day.
Includes: Yellowfin, Red, Yellowmouth, Misty, Scamp, Yellowedge. Harvest of Nassau and Jewfish prohibited.
Grouper, Black & Gag 24" Atlantic (NEW) & Monroe County Waters
20" Gulf
  2 per person per day Atlantic (NEW)
5 per person per day Gulf
Are included in Grouper aggregate bag limits - Atlantic only
Grouper: Warsaw and Speckled Hind (Kitty Mitchell)     1 per vessel, per day of each species. NEW Are included  in grouper aggregate bag limit. Illegal to buy or sell.
Hogfish 12" Fork   5 per person per day G
Mackerel, King (Kingfish) 20" Fork   2 per person per day Bag limit in Gulf-Atlantic fishery reduced to 1 when Federal waters are closed to all harvest. Call FMP for details.
Mackerel, Spanish     10 per person per day Transfer of Spanish mackerel to other vessels is prohibited.
Mullet     50 per vessel or person, whichever is less per day  
Oysters 3" June, July, and August in Dixie, Wakulla and Levy counties.
July, August and September in all other areas.
2 bags per person or vessel, whichever is less per day. 1 bag = 60 pounds or two 5-gallon buckets (whole in shell). Apalachicola Bay has summer and winter seasons/areas. Harvest from approved shellfish areas only. Call FMP for current information.
Permit Not Less than 10"
or more than 20"
  10 per person per day aggregate bag of Permit and Pompano May posses one over 20"
Pompano Not Less than 10"
or more than 20"
  10 per person per day aggregate bag of Permit and Pompano. Sale prohibited for Pompano over 20" May posses one over 20"
Pompano, African Not less than 24"   2 fish per person or vessel whichever is less Hook & Line Gear only
Red Drum (Redfish) Not Less than 18"
or more than 27"
  1 per person per day Gigging, spearing and snatching prohibited.
Red Porgy 14", Atlantic (NEW)   5 per person per day, Atlantic (NEW) WG
Scallops, Bay   September 11 to June 30 2 gallons whole, or one pint meat per person. No more than 10 gallons whole or 1/2 gallon meat per vessel anytime. Restricted harvest areas apply to certain state waters. Call FMP for current information.
Sea Bass, Black 10" (NEW)   Bag limit 20, Atlantic (NEW) WG
Sea Bass 8"     Size limit applies to all Sea Basses (Centropristis) except Black Sea Bass.
Shad     10 per person per day, aggregate bag of all Shad American, Alabama and Hickory shad are all part of aggregate. Hook and line gear only.
Shark     1 per person per day, or 2 per vessel, whichever is less Protected Species. Practice of finning or filleting at sea prohibited. No harvest of Sawfish, Basking and Whale Sharks or Spotted Eagle Rays.
Sheepshead 12"   15 per person per day WGL
Shrimp   April and May closed in Nassau, Duval, St. Johns, Putnam, Flagler and Clay Counties 5 gallons per person or vessel, per day, heads on. Must be landed in whole condition. contact FMP for closed areas.
Snapper, Cubera Not Less than 12"
or more than 30"
  10 per person per day. Under 30" counted in aggregate Snapper bag limit. May keep two over 30" per person or vessel. Over 30" not counted in aggregate.
Snapper, Gray (Mangrove) 10"   5 per person per day within 10 snapper aggregate bag limit. No more than 10 snappers aggregate of all snappers with a bag limit.
Snapper, Lane 8"   Lane Snapper  included in 10 snapper aggregate bag limit  in Atlantic Lane snapper harvested in the Gulf of Mexico not subject to aggregate snapper bag limit.
Snapper, Mutton 16"   10 per person per day aggregate Snapper bag limit. No more than 10 snappers aggregate of all snappers with a bag limit.
Snapper, Red 18" Gulf (NEW)
20" Atlantic
  4 Gulf (NEW)
2 Atlantic
No more than 10 snappers aggregate of all snappers with a bag limit.
Snapper, Schoolmaster 10"   10 per person per day aggregate Snapper bag limit. No more than 10 snappers aggregate of all snappers with a bag limit.
Snapper, Vermilion 10"   10 per person per day, Atlantic.
No bag limit, Gulf
Not counted in Snapper aggregate bag limit.
Snook Not less than 26" (NEW)
Not more than 34"
December 15-January 31, and June, July and August 2 per person per day Snook permit required. Illegal to buy or sell.
Illegal to posses any over 34" (NEW)

Spotted Seatrout
(South Region)
Not less than 15"
Not more than 20"
November and December 5 fish per day per person State waters south from the Volusia/Flagler County line on the Atlantic to the Pinellas/Pasco County line on the gulf.
Spotted Seatrout
(Northwest Region)
Not less than 15"
Not more than 24"
February 7 fish per day per person State waters north and west of the Pinellas/Pasco county line.
Spotted Seatrout
(Northeast Region)
Not less than 15"
Not more than 20"
December, January and February 5 fish per day per person State waters north of the Volusia/Flagler county line.
Tarpon     2 per person per day Requires $50 tarpon tag to possess or kill.
Tripletail 15"   2 per person per day Hook and line gear only. no snatch hooks.
Weakfish 12"   4 per person per day W
    W - Must remain in whole condition until landed ashore. (heads and tails intact) G - Gear restrictions apply. Contact nearest FMP L- Length for these species is defined as the most forward point of the head to the rear center of the tail


Minimum Size Limit (Total Length): Spanish Hogfish 2"

Maximum size Limit (Total Length): Angelfish (except rock beauty) 8", Butterfly, Jawfish 4", Rock Beauty 5", Gobies 2", Spanish Hogfish 8", Spotfin Hogfish 8"

Bag Limit fishes/Invertebrates: 20 per person per day. no more than 5 Angelfish and no more than 6 Octocoral Colonies. Plants: 1 gallon per person per day

Live landing and live well requirements. Harvest in Biscayne National Park & John Pennekamp State Park Prohibited.
Unlawful to harvest or posses Longspine Urchin, Hard and Fire Corals, Sea Fans, Florida Queen Conch and Bahama Starfish.
Harvest of live rock in state waters is prohibited


It is unlawful to harvest, posses, land, purchase, sell, or exchange the following species:
Nassau Grouper, Jewfish, Sawfish, Basking Shark, Whale Shark, Spotted Eagle Ray, Sturgeon,
White Shark, Sand Tiger Shark, Bigeye Sand Tiger Shark, Manta Rays.

Regulations From DEP "Fishing Lines" 1/99

Saltwater Fishing in Florida...
     What you Must Know Before You Go

     This article is for all anglers.  It contains the do's and don'ts  of fishing along Florida's coastline and from off its shorelines. It explains who needs and who does not need a fishing license, and it tells what fish - and how many may be taken home. Saltwater Fishing licenses are sold at all county tax collectors' offices and at many bait-and-tackle shops. Licenses may also be obtained over the telephone by dialing Toll Free, 1-888-347-4356. The cost differs for residents and nonresidents.

     The law says anyone who takes, attempts to take, or possesses marine fish for noncommercial purposes must have a saltwater fishing license, except for those qualifying for exemptions listed below.

Florida Residents

     When applying for a saltwater fishing license, you are considered to be a Florida Resident if you are:

-- any person who has resided in this state for six continuos months prior to the issuance of a license and who has an intent to continue to reside in Florida as their primary residence.

-- any member of the U.S. Armed Forces who is stationed in this state (includes spouse and dependent children residing in household).

     Florida residents may buy a lifetime saltwater fishing license or a lifetime sportsman license. Holders of lifetime saltwater fishing licenses may fish in saltwater as long as they live and will pay no additional fees. The license fee includes the taking of snook or crawfish - which would otherwise require a separate fee. A lifetime sportsman license allows holders to fish in fresh water or salt water and to hunt in Florida. Both of these licenses require holders to obey fishing or hunting laws in effect at any given time. Costs for the four types of licenses:

Florida Resident Licenses *
One-Year License       $ 12.00
Five-Year License ** . $60.00

Lifetime Saltwater Fishing License
    Age: 0-4         $ 125.00
    Age: 5-12     $   225.00
    Age: 13-64    $  300.00
Age: 65 or older . . . . . . Free

Lifetime Sportsman License
    Age: 0-4 . . . . . . . . $ 400.00
    Age: 5-12               $700.00
    Age: 13-63 .  . .     $1,000.00
    Age: 64 or older     $ 12.00

Non-Resident Licenses *
    Three-Day License     $ 5.00
    Seven-Day License     $ 15.00
    One-Year License     $ 30.00

* Service charge and Snook and Crawfish permits not included

** Purchased only at county tax collectors office and
does not include snook or crawfish permits.

    Tax collectors and the bait-and-tackle shops that act as their
agents will assess an additional service charge of $1.50 or $2.00 per license. *

You Do Not Need a License If You Are:

-- A Florida resident fishing from land or a structure fixed to the land - a pier, bridge, dock, floating dock, jetty or similar structure - but not from a boat.

-- A Florida resident who is 65 years old or older.

-- A Florida resident who is a member of the U.S. Armed Forces, who is not stationed in this state, while on leave for 30 days or less, upon submission of orders. This does not include family members.

-- A Florida resident who is fishing for mullet in fresh water--with a valid Florida fresh water license.

-- A Florida resident who is fishing for saltwater fish in fresh water from land or from a structure fixed to the land.

-- Under 16 years of age.

-- Fishing from a boat that has a valid recreational vessel saltwater fishing license.

-- A non-resident fishing from a pier that has a valid pier saltwater fishing license.

-- A holder of a valid commercial saltwater products license. (Only one person fishing under a vessel saltwater products license may claim the exemption on the vessel for which the saltwater product license is registered.)

-- Any person who has been accepted as a client for development services by AHCA (Florida's Agency for Health Care Administration) or any licensed provider of services through contract with AHCA, where such service involves the need, normally, for possession of saltwater fishing license and such service is provided as part of a court-decided rehabilitation program involving training in Florida's aquatic resources.

     A Florida resident who is certified permanently and totally disabled may obtain a "disabled persons certificate" which allows them to fish in both saltwater and freshwater at no charge from a county tax collector.

Other Saltwater Fishing Fees

     Vessel licenses are required for all vessels that charge a fee to take passengers out to catch marine fish.

Eleven or more customers...$800.00
Five to Ten Customers.........$400.00
Four or fewer customers.....$200.00

Optional fees include the annual Recreational Vessel fee ($2,000.00) for not-for-hire pleasure craft and the annual Pier license, ($500.00) for piers that charge an access fee.

Additional Privilege Permit
    Snook Permit      $ 2.00
    Crawfish Permit  $ 2.00

     If you are not required to buy a license, you are not required to buy permits.

     The money collected from saltwater fishing licenses is used to improve and restore fish habitat and for marine fisheries research, law enforcement, and public education on marine resources.


Possession Limits for Multiple Day Recreational Fishing Trips

     Many anglers are unsure or unaware of how bag and possession limits affect them during fishing trips which exceed one fishing day. Bag limits are daily limits for the 24 hour period beginning at midnight and ending the following midnight. These bag limits may not be exceeded at any time and are not considered "per trip" limits. What's important in this definition is that once you have caught and possess the bag limit for a species, you may not harvest any more of this species until the next daily period. Taking the catch to shore and then going back to harvest another daily bag limit is illegal.

     But what if you were fishing in the Bahamas? In this instance, you are subject to the environmental laws of the Bahamas and a violation of their rules may constitute a violation of U.S. Federal laws. Contact the U.S. Coast Guard and Bahamian officials for current information

     Or what about camping on an island in state waters? Are you able to possess an equal number of bag limits as the number of days fished? In this case you are restricted to one daily bag limit regardless of the number of days fished.

     Other scenarios might be that you are camping on the mainland, staying in a motel, at your beach house, in transit over land from an extended fishing trip, etc. Under these circumstances, the possession of multiple daily bag limits depends on the species you intend to keep and more importantly, the location where you possess the fish. The following table provides you with the information needed to:

1) determine whether or not you can possess more than one daily bag limit (on land) for an individual species when fishing for multiple days

2) the locations where it would be prohibited to possess the fish in excess of one daily bag limit

     Tarpon - has no daily bag limit, but it is illegal to posses more than two tarpon at any time. Any tarpon possessed must have tarpon tag affixed.

     Reef fish (snappers and groupers included within the aggregate bag limit, hogfish, Atlantic coast red porgy, and Atlantic coast black sea bass)- Any person who has fished for more than one day may possess double the daily bag limit once such person has departed the fishing site and is no longer within 100 yards of any state waters, docks, fishing piers, or other fishing sites. Additionally, any person who has fished aboard a charter vessel or headboat on a trip that spans more than 24 hours may possess double the daily bag limit provided that the vessel has a sleeping berth for each passenger aboard the vessel and each passenger possesses a receipt issued on behalf of the vessel that verifies the length of the trip.

     If further clarification is required, please contact the local district office of the Florida Marine Patrol. The information contained in this chart can be found in the rules of the Marine Fisheries Commission, Title 46 of the Florida Administrative Code. You may access marine regulations through the Marine Fisheries Commission web site at

Possession Table

May not posses species in excess of one daily bag limit while in or on state waters.

Dolphin, flounder, marine life (tropicals, ornamentals, etc.), mullet, mutton snapper, permit, pompano (including African pompano), sheepshead, tripletail, weakfish.

May not posses species in excess of one daily bag limit while in, on or above the water of the state or on any dock, pier, bridge, beach, or other fishing site adjacent to such waters.

Amberjack (greater and lesser), banded rudderfish, black drum, bluefish, cobia, gulf-Atlantic king mackerel *, redfish**, Spanish mackerel and spotted seatrout.

May not posses species in excess of one daily bag limit at any time.

Bonefish, shad and snook.

* Possession of king mackerel in excess of the daily bag limit by any person aboard a vessel fishing in the Atlantic fishery shall constitute a violation.

** May not posses more than two redfish at any time regardless of location.

Recreational Gear

     Some regional gear restrictions apply. Call your local FMP office for local regulations.


     The following types of nets may be used for recreational purposes in Florida waters: Bully nets, landing or dip nets, cast nets, push nets.


     Traps may be used in recreational fishing for stone crab, blue crab, shrimp, pinfish, and black sea bass, subject to the appropriate regulations.

Hook-and-Line Gear

     Hook-and-line fishermen must tend their gear at all times to prevent people, marine life, and shore life from becoming entangled in the line or injured by their hooks. Also, it is against the law to intentionally discard any monofilament netting or line into or onto the waters of the State of Florida. Monofilament line can--and does--entangle birds, marine mammals, marine turtles, and fish, often killing or injuring them.

Explosives, etc.

     The use of powerheads, explosives, chemicals, or the discharge of Firearms into the water to kill or harvest marine life is against the law. It is also against the law to land any food fish that has been damaged by explosives.

Diving, Snorkeling, and Spearfishing

     Diving, snorkeling, and spearfishing are some of the most enjoyable ways we use Florida crystal-clear waters. Spearfishing is popular in all of Florida's ocean and Gulf waters, but it is especially popular in the southern half of the state and in the coral reefs of the Florida Keys. If you are diving or snorkeling - whether you are spearfishing or not - you must display the Diver Down flag to show boaters that you an in be area. Boaters should use extreme caution around Diver Down flags, and divers should be careful when they surface as well.

     In an effort to simplify existing spearfishing regulations, the Marine Fisheries Commission has modified Chapter 46-20, F.A.C., "Spearfishing" to be entitled "Spearing". Spearing is now defined as "the catching or taking of a fish by bow hunting, logging, spearfishing, or any device used to capture a fish by piercing its body. Spearing does not include the catching or taking of a fish by a hook with hook and line gear or by snagging (snatch hooking)". The use of powerheads, bangsticks, and rebreathers remains prohibited. The following is a list of species which are prohibited for harvest by spearing. Any other species not listed which are managed by the Commission, and those not managed by the Commission are allowed to be harvested by spearing.

-- Billfish
-- Bonefish
-- Nassau Grouper
-- Pompano
-- Spotted Eagle Ray
-- Tarpon
-- Spotted Seatrout
-- African Pompano
-- Sturgeon
-- Jewfish
-- Red Drum
-- Permit
-- Manta Ray
-- Snook
-- Weakfish
-- Sharks

-- Families of ornamental reef fish (surgeonfish, trumpeffish, angelfish, butterflyfish, porcupinefish, cornetfish, squirrelfish, trunkfish, damselfish, parrotfish, pipefish, seahorse, puffers)

You May NOT Spearfish (excluding bowhunting and gigging)

-- Within 100 yards of a public swimming beach, any commercial or public fishing pier, or any part of a bridge from which public fishing is allowed.

-- Within 100 feet of any part of a jetty that is above the surface of the sea - except for the last 500 yards of a jetty that extends more than 1,500 yards from the shoreline.

-- In Collier County and in Monroe County from Long Key north to the Dade County line.

-- For any fish for which spearing is expressly prohibited by law.

-- In any body of water under the jurisdiction of the DEP's Division of Recreation and Parks. (Possession of spearfishing equipment is prohibited in these areas, unless it is unloaded and properly stored.)

Fishermen who catch and/or sell fish harvested by spearing are subject to the same rules and limitations that other fishermen in the state are required to follow.

The Florida Marine Patrol

     Florida waters to provide assistance to boaters and anglers as well as to enforce Florida's salt-water fishing laws and other state environmental laws and rules. Marine patrol officers assist boaters who are in trouble, can provide advice and direction to those who are unfamiliar with Florida's coastline and waterways, and may issue citations for violations of state and federal fishing, boating, and environmental laws.

Tallahassee Headquarters
Division of Law Enforcement
Florida Marine Patrol......................850-488-5600

Telephone numbers for Marine Patrol District Offices

District 1

Jacksonville Beach........................904-270-2500
District 2
District 3
Fort Myers.....................................941-332-6971
District 4
Crystal River..................................352-447-1633
District 5
Panama City...................................850-233-5150

In Emergencies or if state saltwater fishing laws are being violated call 1-800-DIAL-FMP (1-800-342-5367) or for cellular phone users throughout the state, call * FMP.

VHF - Channel 16



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