It’s an interesting notion: Integrating social science with biological research. That’s the premise upon which Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission bases its forthcoming simplifications to the state’s black bass regulations.
In its announcement of the new regs, FWC states that it seeks to “develop measures that are justified biologically while accommodating angler opinions, attitudes and behaviors.”
Effective July 1, anglers will be allowed to keep smaller, more abundant largemouth bass. In addition, length limits for black bass species will be changed and many specific rules for different water bodies will be eliminated.
“The intent is to simplify existing rules and increase abundance of larger bass statewide,” said Tom Champeau, director of the Division of Freshwater Fisheries Management.
The Sunshine State boasts a bunch of black bass species highlighted by the genetically unique Florida largemouth bass, heralded for its trophy potential. Others include Suwannee, shoal, spotted and Choctaw basses that thrive in the northwest areas of the state, primarily in rivers.
Managing such diversity is no easy task, but FWC invested significant effort to encourage and collect public input that would help frame the state’s Black Bass Management Plan for 2010-2030. Introduced June 9, 2011, that plan seeks to maintain the ecological, economic and sociological impacts of Florida’s black bass by factoring the many challenges of population growth/development and water quality issues with environmental and species management.
That’s important not only from the street-level view of natural resource conservation, but also from the recognition of our ever evolving comprehension of the fish, their habitat requirements, population dynamics and angling impacts.
Bottom line, it’s the effective blending of hands-on management efforts with an open-minded analysis of what has and has not worked in Florida and other states.
Among the changes that will take effect July 1:
The new rule will eliminate the three zones that currently regulate bass harvest along with 42 site-specific regulations for largemouth bass. This simplification has been a long-standing desire of anglers and resource managers.
Anglers may still keep up to five black bass (all species combined) of any size, but only one bass 16 inches or longer in total length may be kept per angler per day.
The existing bass tournament permit program will continue to allow anglers participating in permitted tournaments temporary possession of five bass of any size.
The FWC will advertise details of the changes in the new regulation summary (July 1, 2016-June 30, 2017), on-line, via FWC apps, on signs at boat ramps and fish management area kiosks, and at local bait-and-tackle stores.
For complete regulation information, visit myfwc.com.