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FWC issues new catch-and-release measures for Tampa Bay due to red tide

The catch-and-release restrictions begin Friday, July 16, and continue through Sep. 16.

TAMPA, Fla. — Snook, redfish, and spotted seatrout caught in Tampa Bay will temporarily be catch-and-release only due to recent red tide outbreaks in the area.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission issued the new measures in an effort to keep "fisheries sustainable throughout red tide events such as this one."

The catch-and-release restrictions begin Friday, July 16, and continue through Sep. 16.

They will impact:

  • All Florida waters of Manatee County north of State Road 64, including all waters of the Braden River, and all tributaries of the Manatee River, excluding all waters of Palma Sola Bay.
  • All Florida waters of Hillsborough County.
  • All Florida waters of Pinellas County, excluding all waters of the Anclote River and its tributaries.
Credit: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

“While it’s unfortunate that we must do this so close to the recent reopening of these species to harvest in this area, we know temporary catch-and-release measures such as these are successful in keeping fisheries sustainable," FWC Executive Director Eric Sutton wrote in a statement.

Brian Gorski, executive director of Coastal Conservation Association Florida, expressed support for the FWC's decision, adding, "We must protect the fish and our waterways so that generations to come can enjoy the thrill of catching one of these iconic species."

The most recent red tide report showed that at least 800 tons of dead sea life have been removed from St. Petersburg alone in recent weeks. That's about 1.6 million pounds. 

Daily samples collected by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission show high levels of Karenia brevis, the harmful algae that causes red tide, concentrated in the bay area. 

The algae bloom was detected in 107 samples throughout the area, including Pasco, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee, and Sarasota counties.

To learn more about local recreational regulations in your area, visit the FWC website.

RELATED: 800 tons of dead sea life collected in St. Pete, Mayor Kriseman says

RELATED: Here are the signs red tide symptoms are affecting you

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