2 Major Regulation Changes For FL Atlantic Red Snapper Season

Florida’s FWC and Federal Fisheries has implemented two new regulations that will kick in just in time for some or all of the short 4-day Southeast Atlantic red snapper season which runs on July 10, 11, 12, and 17, 2020.

Anglers will be allowed to keep one red snapper per licensed angler with no size limit requirement.

But, the following two regulations will also need to be addressed before you go after your one snapper or other reef fish!

1. Florida FWC Implements State Reef Fish Survey

The FWC is expanding recreational fishing surveys to collect enhanced data for reef fishes. The State Reef Fish Survey (SRFS) relies on two methods to collect vital information on recreational fishing from private boats, including a mail survey and in-person interviews. Starting July 1, 2020, all those who intend to fish for or harvest certain reef fish species from a private vessel in Florida are required to obtain the State Reef Fish Angler designation. Anglers and spearfishers with this designation may periodically receive a questionnaire in the mail that asks about saltwater recreational fishing activities over the past month. In-person interviews conducted at boat ramps and marinas throughout the state also provide information on the numbers and types of reef fishes caught during recreational trips.

allison stattner

As part of this program, recreational anglers and divers (including those 65 and older) who fish for or possess the reef fish below from a private vessel in both the Atlantic and Gulf will need to obtain the State Reef Fish Angler designation:

  • Snappers – mutton, yellowtail, red and vermilion
  • Hogfish
  • Groupers – gag, red and black
  • Amberjack – greater and lesser
  • Banded rudderfish
  • Almaco jack
  • Gray triggerfish

Signing up for the State Reef Fish Angler designation is simple, has no-cost and can easily be obtained wherever saltwater licenses are sold:

  • Fish|Hunt Florida mobile app
  • 1-888-FISHFLORIDA (347-4356),
  • Tackle shops, sporting goods stores and tax collectors’ offices

The SRFS builds upon successes on the Gulf Coast, where improved data have already contributed to enhanced recreational fishing opportunities. The expanded survey will provide more timely and precise data needed to manage and assess important reef fish stocks throughout Florida.

For additional information, visit

red snapper regulations
Photo Credit: ASA

2. South Atlantic Descending Device Requirement July 15

This year, the descending device will only be required as of July 15th,2020, meaning it will only affect the last day of the 2020 red snapper season, but it will be required for all reef and bottom fishing from there on out.  To learn more about the particulars and some other regulations on gear and terminal tackle, read our previous article on BD.

This final rule also contains other best fishing practices including the use of non-offset and non-stainless steel circle hooks when fishing for snapper-grouper species with hook-and-line gear and natural baits north of 28° N latitude (approximately 25 miles south of Cape Canaveral), which is where most of this fishery occurs. The recreational fishing community supports the mandatory use of circle hooks to reduce discard mortality. The effectiveness of non-offset circle hooks has been proven through more than a decade of mandatory use in the Gulf of Mexico reef fish fisheries. Furthermore, all hooks are required to be non-stainless steel when fishing for snapper-grouper species with hook-and-line gear and natural baits throughout South Atlantic federal waters. Non-stainless steel hooks degrade faster than stainless steel hooks. Any fish released with an embedded non-stainless steel hook could have a greater chance of survival.