Snook season to remain closed in Gulf waters – Sun

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission voted to keep the snook season closed for another year in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the Florida Keys and Everglades National Park.

The closure, which will run through Aug. 31, 2013, provides additional protection to snook after a 2010 cold spell killed thousands of the fish in those waters. Catch and release fishing for snook is allowed in Gulf waters.

The vote came Thursday at the FWC’s meeting at PGA National Resort in Palm Beach Gardens after staff presented an updated stock assessment that showed snook populations are improving in Atlantic waters and are not in biological jeopardy in the Gulf. The next assessment is due in 2015.

“If we have a bad winter this year, we will benefit from this caution; if we don’t have a bad winter, we will let all these breeding fish come through the slot,” said commissioner Kenneth Wright, referring to the snook slot limit of 28 to 33 inches in Gulf of Mexico waters. “We’ll really have done something good and we’ll have protected some of these fish.”

The snook season was closed in Gulf and Atlantic waters by executive order in January 2010 after an extended cold spell. Because not as many snook were killed on the Atlantic coast, the season reopened Sept. 1, 2011.

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