New Rules for Permit in Florida State and Federal Waters

By: Terry Tomalin


Anglers travel from all over the world to fish for permit in Florida waters. These prized sportfish are cagey critters and difficult to hook, which is why catching and releasing one is something to brag about.

But nonetheless, this valuable resource must be protected for future generations, which is why the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission wants to enhance and protect Florida’s permit fishery while also strengthening management of the Florida pompano and African pompano fisheries.

If approved, the new rules would extend state laws protecting these species into federal waters adjacent to Florida waters where these fish are currently unregulated. Federal waters extend beyond nine nautical miles from shore in the Gulf of Mexico and three miles from shore in the Atlantic Ocean.

The draft rules would also create separate management strategies for the three species and create two new management areas for the harvest of permit. In South Florida and the Florida Keys, permit is largely a trophy and catch-and-release fishery. In other areas of Florida, anglers catch permit from the shore and they are more often kept as a food fish.

If approved, the new rules would create a Special Permit Zone, which would include all state and federal waters south of a line running due east from Cape Florida and south of a line running due west from Cape Romano. The remainder of the state (north of these lines) would make up another management zone.

In the Special Permit Zone, a minimum size limit of 22 inches fork length and a daily bag limit of one permit per person and two per vessel would apply. Recreational anglers would be allowed to only use hook-and-line gear for permit, except that spearing for permit would be allowed in federal waters in the zone. A May, June and July closed season also would be established for permit, and the commercial harvest of permit would be prohibited in the zone.

Outside this zone, a recreational slot size for permit of 11-22 inches fork length and a daily bag limit of two fish per person would apply, with an allowance for one permit over 22 inches in length. A vessel limit of two permit larger than 22 inches in length also would apply. To learn more, click here.

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