New regulations for Florida Keys permit would heighten protections during the spring-spawn timeframe 

To ramp up safeguards for spawning permit on the prowl, Florida Fish and Wildlife commissioners will consider adding the month of April to the preexisting no-take closure inside the state’s Special Permit Zone (SPZ)—the waters south of Cape Florida in the Atlantic and south of Cape Sable in the Gulf.

The SPZ’s current no-harvest window—which does allow for catch-and-release fishing—runs May through July. The Lower Keys Guides Association (LKGA) supports adding April to the mix.

“It’s pretty simple, we don’t want the fish to be harvested while they’re spawning,” says LKGA president, Doug Kilpatrick. “We’re seeing too many pics of spearfishers on Facebook, holding dead permit. The fish have holes in their heads, eggs in their bellies. Permit need to be able to release those eggs. Let’s let them make some babies.”

Historically, May has been considered the prime month for the permit spawn, a time when Keys fish set sail for offshore wrecks, where they’re generally reckless and easily targeted. Triggered by calm weather, however, earlier migrations in mid-April are occurring more frequently.

LKGA says that including April in the SPZ regs will ensure added protection for the species “during a time South Florida continues to see its largest population growth in history.”

If you can’t attend the public hearings this month, submit your support for the rule change online before Dec 7.

The upcoming Commission meeting will be held December 6-7, here:

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Tom Bie is the founder, editor, and publisher of The Drake. He started the magazine in 1998 as an annual newsprint publication based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. He then moved it to Steamboat, Colorado (1999), Boulder, Colorado (2001), and San Clemente, California (2004), as he took jobs as managing editor at Paddler, Senior Editor at Skiing, and Editor-in-Chief at Powder, respectively. Tom and The Drake are now both based in Denver, Colorado, where The Drake is finally all grows up(Swingers, 1996) to a quarterly magazine.

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