• Faced with opposition from spearfishers, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has tabled a decision to create sport fish and game fish designations for some saltwater species. At a meeting last week in Orlando, commissioners directed staff to develop catch-and-release provisions for bonefish and tarpon. The FWC is expected to gather public input and then consider a draft proposal at its April meeting. The sport fish and game fish designations were aimed at enhancing protection and limiting harvest of some of Florida’s important recreational fisheries.
• The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council is seeking public comment on an amendment that may lift the Nov. 1-through-March 31 recreational closure of vermilion snapper. The most recent stock assessment shows that overfishing for vermilions has ended. However, the amendment might impose some additional restrictions on red porgy, which are still overfished. The council is expected to forward the amendment to the Secretary of Commerce for final adoption at its March 4-8 meeting in St. Simon’s Island, Ga. Public comment will be accepted through March 4. Comments may be faxed to 843-769-4520 or emailed to SGRegAm18Comments@safmc.net.
• Water sports aficionados fishing for an excuse to stay in South Florida following Monday’s conclusion of the Miami International Boat Show and Yacht & Brokerage Show don’t have to look too hard. The Blue Wild 2013 — a dive and marine art expo — will be held Feb. 23-24 at the Broward County Convention Center. Organizer Sheri Daye of Boca Raton says the event will appeal to anyone interested in the world’s oceans. “I’m trying to dispel the notion this is only about freediving and spearfishing,” Daye said. “My intent is to make it well-rounded for anyone who loves the ocean.” Besides dive gear and travel exhibits, the expo will feature a variety of speakers and workshops, including Miami shark wrangler Manny Puig; freediving instructors Kirk Krack and Martin Stepanek; Mote Marine Laboratory founder Eugenie Clark; and renowned underwater videographer Stan Waterman. There’s also an extensive marine art exhibit, a photo and video contest, and a raffle and auction. Information: thebluewild.com or call 561-715-0247.
• The International Game Fish Association has added eight species to its two-year-old All-Tackle Length record program. The program recognizes superior catches in both salt and freshwater based on length rather than weight, and requires fish to be released alive. The new additions, effective March 1, are: black grouper; cero mackerel; Dentex; gray snapper; Madai; Nile perch; Orinoco peacock; and Papuan black snapper. The record-keeping organization also has added new Slam and Trophy clubs, also effective March 1. They are: the 50-pound Dolphinfish Club; the 30-pound Muskellunge Club; and a new Offshore Grand Slam Club. Visit igfa.org for more information.