Commercial, recreational fishery species.Fisheries Importance:Cynoscion nebulosus is a major commercial and game species throughout is range, but is especially important recreationally in Florida. Between 1987 - 2001, the commercial harvest of Cynoscion nebulosus in Florida totaled 10.3 million pounds, and was valued at $12.3 million. Approximately 74% of landings occurred on Florida's west coast, which accounted for 7.6 million pounds, with a dollar value of 8.6 million. East coast commercial landings accounted for approximately 2.6 million pounds,which had a commercial vale of $3.6 million. The 5 county area encompassing the IRL (Volusia, Brevard, Indian River, St. Lucie and Martin Counties) accounted for 2.2 million pound of the commercial harvest, which had a value of $2.8 million. This ranks the spotted seatrout twentieth in commercial value to IRL counties, and twenty-fifth in pounds harvested. Figure 1 below shows the dollar value of the spotted seatrout commercial fishery to IRL counties by year. The fishery ranged in value from a high of $329,756 in 1989, to a low of $44,961 in 2001. Indian River County accounted for 31.5% of the catch, followed by Volusia (28.9%), Brevard (27.7%), St. Lucie (15.7%) and Martin (1.2%) Counties. Of note is the dramatic decrease in commercial catch after 1995, which coincides with the enactment of Florida's ban on gillnetting, and the subsequent switch to other gear types. Prior to 1995 most commercial landings of spotted seatrout were accomplished with gill nets. However, after the net ban, approximately 87% of the commercial catch between 1996-1998 was accomplished with hook and line gear, while 7% was accomplished with cast nets (Murphy et al. 1999). Recreational Fishery: Within the 5-county area of the Indian River Lagoon, spotted seatrout are highly prized gamefishes. Recreational anglers captured 1.5 million spotted seatrout between 1997 - 2004 (Table 4, Figure 3), not counting those fishes that were caught and released. The bulk of the recreational catch (52.5%) was taken within the Indian River Lagoon. Approximately 42.5% of the recreational catch is harvested from other inland waters. Anglers fishing to 3 miles offshore accounted for 4.8% of the harvest, while those fishing up to 200 miles offshore accounted for only 0.2% of the total. Statewide, recreational anglers harvest more spotted seatrout than do commercial enterprises. Prior to 1996, recreational landings in Florida accounted for approximately 78% of statewide harvest (Murphy et al. 1999). This figure increased to 96% from 1996 - 1998 following the commercial gillnet ban. In the Atlantic coast region from Volusia county south, recreational anglers benefited greatly from the commercial gillnet ban. Prior to 1995, recreational anglers captured approximately 55 % of the total catch in central to southern Florida. Following the net ban, this figure rose to 84%, with commercial interests accounting for only 16% of the total. Fishing regulations in Florida state that spotted seatrout must be at least 15 inches total length (TL), but not more than 20 inches TL to be of legal size; however, one seatrout larger than 20 inches TL may be kept per person per day. Seatrout season is closed from December 15 - January 31, and during the spawning season from June - August on the Atlantic coast, and from May-August on the Gulf coast. A bag limit of 4 legal-sized seatrout per person per day is in effect.
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