Saltwater Fishing Regs: 2014
Basic recreational saltwater
fishing regulations for
state waters of Florida
This brief summary of regulations governs the taking of saltwater species in Florida state waters for personal use. It is not applicable to the commercial harvesting of these species. The absence of complete laws, rules and regulations in this summary does not relieve persons from compliance with those laws, rules or regulations. State waters extend to 3 nautical miles on the Atlantic and 9 nautical miles on the Gulf. Federal rules apply beyond state waters unless expressly stated otherwise. For species that do not have an established bag limit, more than 100 pounds or two fish per harvester per day (whichever is greater), is considered commercial quantities. A saltwater products license and commercial vessel registration are required to harvest commercial quantities of unregulated species. It is illegal to sell recreationally harvested fish without compliance with commercial license requirements. Issue Forty Four, January, 2014.
Harvester: Regardless of what species you are fishing for, bag limits are only for properly licensed individuals and those people exempt from licensing requirements who are actively harvesting. People harvesting may not exceed the individual bag limit and take someone else’s bag limit. That is, people (including children) who are not actively harvesting or are not properly licensed (if license is required) may NOT be counted for the purpose of bag limits.
For information on bag limits during multi-day trips, returning with fish from the Bahamas and spearing, please see “Other Information” at MyFWC.com/Fishing/Saltwater/Recreational
- Reef Fish
- Coastal Species
- Crustaceans and Mollusks
It is unlawful to harvest, possess, land, purchase, sell or exchange the following species:
Goliath Grouper (Jewfish), Nassau Grouper, Sawfish, Atlantic Angel Shark, Basking Shark, Bigeye Sand Tiger Shark, Bigeye Sixgill Shark, Bigeye Thresher Shark, Bignose Shark, Caribbean Reef Shark, Caribbean Sharpnose Shark, Dusky Shark, Galapagos Shark, Lemon Shark, Longfin Mako Shark, Narrowtooth Shark, Night Shark, Silky Shark, Sand Tiger Shark, Sandbar Shark, Sevengill Shark, Sixgill Shark, Smalltail Shark, Spiny Dogfish, Whale Shark, White Shark, Tiger Shark, Great Hammerhead Shark, Scalloped and Smooth Hammerhead Shark, Manta Ray, Spotted Eagle Ray, Longbill Spearfish, Mediterranean Spearfish, Sturgeon, Florida Queen Conch, Stony, Hard and Fire Corals, Sea Fans, Bahama Starfish, and Longspine Urchin. Harvest of live rock in state waters is prohibited. Puffer fish harvest is prohibited in Volusia, Brevard, Indian River, St. Lucie and Martin counties.
Can’t find your fish in
the saltwater regulation?
Florida’s coastal waters are home to thousands of marine species, and the majority of these species have no specific regulations with regard to bag limits, size limits, gear restrictions or closed seasons. These species are often referred to as “unregulated species,” although the name can be a bit misleading. State law provides that for any marine species that does not have specific regulations, harvesting more than 100 pounds or two fish (whichever is the greater amount) constitutes a commercial quantity and requires a commercial license. This means the recreational harvest limit for any unregulated species is 100 pounds or two organisms if the combined weight of the two organisms exceeds 100 pounds.
Examples of “unregulated species” include:
Ladyfish, bonito, great barracuda, white grunt, southern stingray, gulf kingfish (whiting), pinfish, Atlantic croaker, jack crevalle, cero mackerel, hardhead catfish, gafftopsail catfish, and blackfin tuna.
- Blackfin Tuna
- Jack Crevalle
- Great Barracuda
- White Grunt
- Hardhead Catfish
- Gulf Kingfish
Exception: The highly invasive, Indo-Pacific Lionfish is exempted by rule from the statutory harvest limits to encourage maximum control efforts by the public. Recreational harvest of lionfish is unlimited and strongly encouraged to minimize negative impacts to Florida’s natural marine resources.
licenses and fees
A recreational saltwater fishing license is required for residents and nonresidents to take or attempt to take saltwater fish, crabs, clams, marine plants or other saltwater organisms (other than non-living seashells and lionfish with certain gear).
Note: Spiny lobster and snook permits and tarpon tags are also required.
A Florida fishing license is required to land saltwater species in Florida regardless of where they are caught (state or federal waters).
Before purchasing a recreational saltwater fishing license or permit, please make sure you understand what qualifies as Florida residency and whether you really need a license or permit based on the exemptions.
Annual recreational fishing licenses and permits are valid for 12 months from the date of purchase or the alternate starting date if selected at the time of purchase, unless otherwise specified on the face of the license.
Hard Card: A hard, credit card-style license can be purchased in addition to purchasing your annual or five-year license. The ‘hard card’ costs $4. If you purchase the ‘hard card,’ your temporary license should read “hard card shipped separately.” NOTE: Each $4 ‘hard card’ can hold up to seven different licenses or permits. If you have more than seven licenses or permits and want them all on a card, you will need to purchase additional cards at $4 each.
- Annual Saltwater Fishing – $17.00
- Youth saltwater Fishing (Optional for children under the age of 16 and valid until 17th birthday – a fishing license is not required until age 16) – $17.00
- 5-Year Saltwater Fishing – $79.00
- Saltwater/Freshwater Fishing Combo – $32.50
- Saltwater/Freshwater Fishing/Hunting Combo- $48.00
- Saltwater Shoreline License (not valid from a vessel, a shore reached by vessel or if swimming or diving and not required if you have any other valid resident saltwater fishing license listed here) – Free
- Gold Sportsman’s License (includes Saltwater Fishing, Hunting Freshwater Fishing licenses; and Snook, Lobster, Wildlife Management Area, Archery, Muzzleloading Gun, Crossbow, Deer, Turkey, and Florida Waterfowl permits) – $100.00
- Youth Gold Sportsman’s License (Optional for children under the age of 16 and valid until 17th birthday – a fishing license is not required until age 16 – hunter safety certificate required – includes same licenses and permits as Gold Sportsman’s License) – $100.00
- 5-Year Gold Sportsman’s License (includes Saltwater Fishing, Hunting and Freshwater Fishing licenses; and Snook, Lobster, Wildlife Management Area, Archery, Muzzleloading Gun, Crossbow, Deer, Turkey, and Florida Waterfowl permits) – $494.00
- Military Gold Sportsman’s License (includes Saltwater Fishing, Hunting and Freshwater Fishing licenses; and Snook, Lobster, Wildlife Management Area, Archery, Muzzleloading Gun, Crossbow, Deer, Turkey, and Florida Waterfowl permits) (sold only at tax collector’s office) (not available as 5-year) (only available to resident retired, and resident active duty, military) – $20.00
Nonresident Annual Saltwater Fishing – $47.00
Nonresident 3-Day Saltwater Fishing – $17.00
Nonresident 7-Day Saltwater Fishing – $30.00
Saltwater Fishing Permits
(Resident and Nonresident)
If you are not required to have a license, you are not required to buy permits (except tarpon tags)
- Snook Permit (required to keep snook in season even with the Shoreline License) – $10.00
- Spiny Lobster Permit – $5.00
- Tarpon Tag (sold only at select tax collector’s offices – no exemptions apply) – $51.50
5-Year (Residents Only)
- Snook Permit (required to keep snook in season even with the Shoreline license) – $50.00
- Lobster Permit – $25.00