Letter to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Regarding Red Drum, Feb. 2011

We recognize the important role the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) plays in jointly managing important fisheries, such as red drum, off the Florida coast. However, we have some concerns with the staff recommendations to regionalize red drum management and increase bag limits in the northern regions.

In short:

  • Regionalizing red drum management could be problematic if it leads to an overall decline in population health and further erosion of coast-wide escapement rates.
  • If bag limits are increased in regions where there are relatively healthy escapement rates, restrictions should be tightened in other regions where they are declining or are below management goals in order to maintain coast-wide healthy levels.
  • Regionalizing red drum management may have some biological justification, but the existing data and population assessment tools are designed to monitor the fishery coast-wide.
  • We recommend waiting until the 2011 stock assessment is completed before taking action.