Florida FWC Commission Approves Cobia Rule Changes

Florida FWC Commission Approves Cobia Rule Changes

At their May meeting, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved regulation changes for Cobia in all State Waters. The changes, effective starting July 1, 2022, include the following. The minimum size limit increases from 33″ – 36″ fork length for all state waters, both Gulf and Atlantic side. The commercial bag limit on the Atlantic side state waters is being reduced from 2 fish to 1 fish per harvester per day, and the vessel limit for both commercial and recreational fishermen is being reduced from 6 fish to 2 fish per day in the Atlantic side waters.

These announced changes to the regulations are in line with pending federal water regulation changes in the Gulf and Atlantic federal waters. A recent stock assessment of cobia stocks has determined that cobia is undergoing overfishing at the moment. So as a result reduction of current harvest amounts of cobia is needed. These changes for commercial and recreational fishermen in both state and federal waters are necessary. This will help stop overfishing, improve stock abundance and ensure a future for cobia fishing.

While many say any additional regulations for fishing are never a good thing. I have to say that this has been needed for a long time now. If you ask anyone who fishes for cobia in the Florida Panhandle, they will say the glory days are behind them for the cobia fishery. Even as recently as in the 1990s and early 2000s the landscape was completely different. People would pass over 40-50lb fish because they knew they could find an 80-90lb fish. Now you’re lucky to find a 50lb fish. This will hopefully help but might not be enough.

Changes effective July 1, 2022, include:

  • Increasing the minimum size limit from 33 inches to 36 inches fork length for all state waters.
  • Reducing the commercial bag limit from two to one fish per harvester per day for Atlantic state waters.
  • Reducing the recreational and commercial vessel limit from six to two fish per vessel per day for Atlantic state waters.

These changes are consistent with pending regulations in Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic federal waters.

For more information, including the May 2022 Commission meeting presentation, visit MyFWC.com/Commission and click on “Commission Meetings.”

For current recreational cobia regulations, visit MyFWC.com/Marine and click on “Recreational Regulations” and “Cobia.” This page will be updated with the new regulations when they take effect.

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