Regulations for Salt Water Fishing

Regulations for Salt Water Fishing
Saltwater fishing regulations are complex and continually changing. The cornerstone of fisheries management is to establish regulations that allow for a sustainable harvest while ensuring the future of the stock. Regulations are formulated based on annual stock assessments, and fishing effort is limited by a combination of seasonal limits, size limits and bag limits.

Season Limits

The most effect tool for fisheries managers is the fishing season. By shortening the season, the fish are protected from angling pressure. Some fish are protected by closures during their spawning season, which affords the fish the best chance at successful reproduction.


Size Limits

Saltwater fish are commonly protected by a minimum size limit. The limit is usually larger than the minimum size the species must reach to have spawned at least one time. Slot limits are becoming more popular. Slot limits have a minimum and maximum size so when a fish grows larger than the maximum size, it must be released.

Bag Limits

The bag limit puts a limit on how many legal-size fish of a particular species you are allowed to keep in season. Small bag limits often have the effect of reducing angler effort. If anglers are limited to bringing home one or two fish, a significant percentage of them will not go fishing.

National Marine Fisheries Services

NMFS is the fisheries management council that exists at the federal level. Their technical committees make specific recommendations for each species, and NMFS passes those recommendations to the management councils for the states.

Magnusson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act

This document is the guiding force behind fisheries management. Originally signed into law in 1976 as part of an effort to keep foreign fishing fleets out of U.S. waters, the MSA has been amended several times and includes goals for each species, and deadlines by which the goals must be reached.


Article Written By Stephen Byrne

Stephen Byrne is a freelance writer with published articles in "Nor'East Saltwater," "Sportfishing" magazine, "Pacific Coast Sportfishing" and "Salt Water Sportsman." As a fishing charter captain, he was also interviewed for a feature in "Field and Stream." Byrne studied environmental science at the State University of New York at Delhi.

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