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New Mahi Regulations

In Atlantic State Waters the daily bag limit has been reduced from 10 to 5 for Dolphin.  Does this just apply in State Waters up to 3 miles offshore?  Can we still keep more than 5 if they're caught outside of 3 miles?  


  • aboveboredabovebored Posts: 1,353 Officer
    You can still keep 10 in federal waters. Just don't stop to fish on your way back in. The new law is pretty much meaningless as the overwhelming vast majority of dolphin are caught beyond 3 miles out.
  • CaptJCaptJ Posts: 1,637 Captain
    Pretty sad when people are fighting over 20" Dolphin. 
  • conchydongconchydong Pompano BeachPosts: 11,975 AG
    The SAFMC just had a meeting in Key West. Be prepared for some changes in Federal waters. Most likely they will match the Florida rules.

    “Everyone behaves badly--given the chance.”
    ― Ernest Hemingway

  • palm hawkpalm hawk Posts: 8 Deckhand
    So they stick it to the recreational fisherman again and dont deal with the real problem.....long-liners. Typical.
  • xeniaxenia Posts: 1,132 Officer
    Almost all the commercial dolphin caught off Florida come from off St. Augustine to Jacksonville way out on the east side of the stream.  They catch the same fish that are found east of the Bahamas which average much larger, not the little peanuts we get here is South Florida.  There's a reason there's never been a dedicated commercial dolphin fishery off South Florida.
  • tarponhuntertarponhunter Posts: 487 Deckhand
    edited June 22 #7
    palm hawk said:
    So they stick it to the recreational fisherman again and dont deal with the real problem.....long-liners. Typical.
    Generally I would agree with this except that A) the commercial fishery for mahi in Florida isn't that and like Xenia mentioned, they fish mostly off north Florida. B ) the recreational fisheries in most cases actually have a much larger impact on populations, especially here in Florida where we have probably 100,000's of boats that fish soflo waters offshore any given year. The reason no one is catching mahi may be connected to overfishing in places like the gulf, Caribbean or central America, but even this isn't likely.

    Now, what is 100% affecting the local populations is those hundreds maybe even thousands of boats fishing offshore from he keys to palm beach on any given day. Each of these boats most likely keeping just about every mahi they legally catch... To me this isn't another jab at the recreational fisherman for the benefit of the commercials, this is just an update to a limit that is clearly not sustainable with the current amount of fisherman. No one needs to keep 10 mahi per person on one trip! Even if those were all barely legal that would be enough fish to feed 10 people easily so dont give me that "we're bringing it home for family and friends" crapola when people are bringing home 40+ mahi... (thats not directed at you Palm Hawk more just greedy fishermen in general)
  • palm hawkpalm hawk Posts: 8 Deckhand
    Ya, just for clarification, I was assuming the commercial fisheries in countries to our south where they have virtually no regulation are a contributor.  I haven't had a boat where we made our limit in 12-14 years.  And it seems to be getting worse.  I just think (probably incorrectly) but the feed to the keys is the currents from the south (west) where the regulations are much more open.  Thus leaving us with less fish coming in to our waters. Just my opinion.
  • dvnelson72dvnelson72 Posts: 61 Deckhand
    The gulf side needs size limits.  People keep peanuts that are not worth filleting.
  • xeniaxenia Posts: 1,132 Officer
    edited June 21 #10
    There could be issues beyond just overfishing of the species itself.  Maybe there just isn't enough food in our waters to sustain or attract large schools of big mahi, or anything else for that matter.  The last times I've been offshore I've noticed that there's very little life under the weeds, and it's been years since I've seen a large flock of birds feeding on baitfish in the Gulfstream.  By large I mean like the time I found 400+ shearwaters and other bird species feeding on small sardines off Pacific Light.  In the ocean, and every other habitat for that matter, it's all about food.  If there isn't enough food for birds, there's probably not enough for fish either.  Perhaps overfishing of these baitfish in other countries could be contributing, or some other issues impacting their population?  Just trying to get the thoughts going instead of taking the simple route of blaming this or that group.  I do notice that countries that have very industrialized mahi fishing operations don't seem to be having the problem with fewer and smaller mahi like we are.  You'd think that if overfishing was the problem, those places would be impacted first, but they are still catching thousands if not millions of big mahi in Brazil and Ecuador.  They purse seine them many times.  The schoolies in those water are 15-20 lbs.

    This is from Peru.  Notice the size.

  • palm hawkpalm hawk Posts: 8 Deckhand
    Xenia, you may be on to something there. Although I did see quite a bit of life under the weeds this year and last few, I don't recall ever seeing a huge balls of bait fish.
  • xeniaxenia Posts: 1,132 Officer
    This was an impressive sight.  At least 400 all around the boat as far as I could see, maybe more farther out.  I wasn't even fishing, just trying to photograph birds.

  • tarponhuntertarponhunter Posts: 487 Deckhand
    Both of you guys bring up very good points because pelagic species and their larvae often do come from far off, being brought in by the currents and winds. I looked and mahi have a 30ish day larval period and we know they grow to about 10lbs in the first year. Most likely our populations do come from the Gulf of Mexico and Cuba area. I don't know much about the commercial fisheries around there and also the regs for gulf fisherman in other states so these could certainly be impacting.

    Xenia, I think environmental issue and degradation impacting other living conditions like bait could be the biggest factor actually thats a very good point. Certainly baitfish populations could be getting over fished in areas that may impact us but I do also think our water and habitat issues here in Florida are contributing to a big decline in some of those costal migratory species like sardines and glass minnows. I haven't fished offshore enough to really say I've noticed these changes but certainly have inshore. One interesting thing that could be affecting the populations (however, I think it should only help pops) is the drastic increase in sargassum weeds through the Sargasso Sea, Caribbean, and gulf. In theory that should provide more cover and bait but perhaps it also spreads out the population?

    My feeling has been that you usually do see some pretty decent numbers and size mahi in the keys, maybe not nearly as good it should be but better than most of the rest of the east coast. My theory is that the fish, especially the population that seems to run the edge of the stream, just get picked at and fished out by all of the pressure as they move north. Now as you move past Martin county the distance to fish and pressure drops greatly and this also seems to be where you see a better uptick of bigger mahi and more consistent numbers because those fish either have time to grow or the bigger ones coming from the middle of the stream or open atlantic start to fill in and aren't removed as quickly. Again, this is all just a theory and like you guys have said its certainly a multitude of factors.
  • LurchyLurchy Posts: 448 Deckhand
    I have to agree.. The impact of a couple American longliners taking a few thousand lbs of mahi in a couple landings in May off the 31 line amounts to not even a drop in the bucket. Especially bc they are believed to be fish that come from the other side of the bahamas moving to the north.. The thousands of rec vessels getting their peanut limit every single day from Key West to The Carolinas is probably a much much bigger issue. I am a rec angler and would welcome new fed regs. I would gladly trade 50 peanuts for a few spring slammers each season if it makes a difference.. Hoping Caribbean management catches up to the restrictions we are fishing under.. I think that may help. I know before we get our supposed spring run, they are cleaning up in PR for example. What gives me hope, our current swordfish fishery, give um a break and we reap the rewards.  But xenia is right.. No bait= no fish
  • OakviewOakview Posts: 12 Deckhand
    I don’t post much but read this forum almost daily.  I have a house in Islamorada and have been Mahi fishing in the keys for years.  One thing for sure is that over the years the number of gaffer fish has declined significantly.  I’m no biologist and can’t comment on why that has occurred.  This topic gets discussed frequently and a few common thoughts always emerge.  First, the bag limit should be 5 per angler regardless of size.  Very few people properly release undersized mahi.  They bring them into the boat, grab them with a towel of hold against their shirt, take the hook out and throw them back.  The majority of those fish will die.  Once their slime is knocked off they are done.  If you want more/bigger Mahi in the keys use a de-hooker and don’t handle the fish when it is released.  Just a few thoughts from some locals talking fishing, drinking a beer, and watching the sun set.
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