Controversy Over Permit Harvest

October 7, 2005 By: Marshall Cutchin

Lately online discussion boards have been buzzing with talk about drastic changes in the rules governing the commercial harvest of permit (see threads on Dan Blanton’s Board [1][2], and Fly Fisherman).
After reading the regulations carefully we contacted the commercial liaison at Florida Fish & Wildlife and were told that in fact not only have protections not been reduced, but they will be clarified to be stronger.
Previous rules did not make it clear what the bag limit on permit between 11 and 20 inches — the “slot” for commercial fishermen — was. In fact, commercial fishing bulletins issued in 2004 and in July 2005 included tables that showed the bag limit for permit as “None.”
Dan Ellinor, commercial outreach liaison for FF&W, now says that this was inaccurate and plans to issue a clarification to all commercial fishermen. According to Elsinore, who confirmed this with FF&W legal yesterday, the actual bag limit on permit for commercial fishermen is “only fish between 11 and 20 inches, but no more than 100 pounds on any one vessel.” These fish also have to be caught on hook and line, which means, according to Jennifer Macauley, finfish biologist for the Marine Fisheries Management division, that only a handful of commercial fishermen in Florida make any attempt to harvest permit.
Any clarification will benefit recreational anglers, since the previous rules did not clearly state a commercial bag limit. As far as we can tell, Florida does not want protections on permit removed and intends to close any loopholes that allow commercial fishermen to target permit.
If you want to read the actual current rules for permit, you can find them here (go to Chapter 68B-35). You can read the FF&W commercial bulletin that contained the error here (see bottom of table on page 9).