As of Jan. 1, 2021, anglers using hook-and-line with natural bait to target reef fish like snapper or grouper from a vessel in Atlantic state waters are required to use non-stainless-steel, non-offset circle hooks north of 28 degrees north latitude (near Melbourne) and non-stainless-steel hooks south of 28 degrees north latitude.
These changes are consistent with requirements in Atlantic federal waters that recently took effect and, along with emphasizing best fishing practices through educational resources and strategic messaging, will help empower anglers to conserve fisheries for the future.
Non-stainless-steel, non-offset circle hooks are already required when fishing for reef fish in Gulf state waters and have been a successful tool in increasing the survival of released fish.
Allowing the use of other types of non-stainless steel hooks south of 28 degrees north latitude accommodates for regionally important south Florida fisheries, such as yellowtail snapper, in which the use of J-hooks allows for greater efficiency and reduces discard mortality.
To learn more about proper fish handling techniques, visit MyFWC.com/FishHandling.