Click here to continue 1 / 14 Review Florida’s new statewide largemouth bass regulation changes before the A.R.E. Truck Caps Bassmaster Elite at Lake Okeechobee. 2 / 14 In 2010, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) staff worked with stakeholders to develop a Black Bass Management Plan to guide bass management for the next 20 years. 3 / 14 Anglers said bass regulations were too complicated and mentioned how some regulations had been in place for many years with no review. 4 / 14 FWC staff worked with experts at the University of Florida and gathered information from stakeholders through an online survey, a mail-in survey, and public open house events. 5 / 14 Over 5,500 surveys were returned and 200 in person conversations were had with anglers. FWC learned that anglers did not have many strong opinions about most bass regulations but felt that the regulations should be simplified. Anglers strongly opposed the idea of changing the five bass daily bag limit and had a preference for trophy bass management. 6 / 14 The voluntary release rate of LMB on most resources in Florida is approximately 90%. Biological models indicated that minimum length limits were probably the least effective regulations for providing high catch and harvest rates or for producing quality and trophy bass. 7 / 14 FWC staff had to balance the biological and social data collected. It was recognized that the sociological data was just as important as the biological data since FWC was not addressing a pressing biological need such as overfishing. 8 / 14 FWC staff proposed a change in the largemouth bass regulations to a single new statewide regulation. The proposed new regulation would eliminate the three regulation zones in the state. Additionally, most Special Regulations would change to the new statewide regulation. 9 / 14 FWC staff went back to stakeholders to gather input specifically on the proposed changes. An online survey was conducted and public meetings were held across the state to determine if anglers supported the proposed regulations. 10 / 14 The majority of anglers supported the proposed change. But since the regulation was very different than what had been in place in Florida for many years, anglers often didn’t understand the intent of the proposal or the biological effects. However, when biologists had a chance to explain the change during meetings and workshops, angler support jumped to over 80%. 11 / 14 Some tournament anglers thought the regulation would restrict their events but FWC’s free online bass tournament exemption program alleviated these concerns. This program also provides valuable data about bass fisheries and enables staff to communicate with tournament directors regarding weigh-in practices to increase fish survival. 12 / 14 Given the strong stakeholder support, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission passed the new largemouth bass regulations and they went into effect July 1, 2016. 13 / 14 Florida’s new statewide largemouth bass regulation simplifies regulations, maintains the 5-bass daily bag limit, and helps sustain quality bass fishing. It will also provide more harvest opportunities for those anglers who want to responsibly harvest bass. The regulation also works well with Florida’s TrophyCatch program that encourages anglers to release largemouth bass over 8 pounds. 14 / 14 Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission staff will evaluate the effects of the regulation change over the next 10 years. The evaluation will include input from anglers as well as biological data.