It may soon be legal to catch dolphin, wahoo in Bahamas, bring back just fillets

▪ South Florida anglers may soon be able to bring dolphin and wahoo fillets back home from the Bahamas. The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, meeting earlier this month in New Bern, North Carolina, adopted new rules eliminating requirements that the two species be brought back in whole condition.

The new measures would count two wahoo or dolphin fillets as one fish, regardless of the size, and require that snapper, grouper, dolphin and wahoo fillets have the skin intact for identification purposes. Current Bahamian regulations allow possession of 18 total dolphin, wahoo, tuna and kingfish per vessel in any combination. All U.S. bag and possession limits would apply. Recreational boats would have to have stamped and dated passports proving the party was fishing in the Bahamas, as well as a valid Bahamian fishing and cruising permit. They would not be allowed to stop and fish in U.S. waters on the way home. The measure now goes to NOAA Fisheries for final review, then to the Secretary of Commerce for approval.

In other action, the council received a stock assessment of hogfish from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission showing the species is overfished and undergoing overfishing. Because the Southeast Florida population overlaps the Gulf of Mexico, the panel agreed to work with the Gulf fishery management council on measures to end overfishing and rebuild the stock.

▪ A Swedish company has just released a new app aimed at helping anglers catch more and bigger fish. FishBrain Forecast (www.fishbrain.com) combines crowd-sourced catch data with artificial intelligence to predict optimal times to catch redfish, black drum, spotted sea trout, common snook and largemouth bass. The app is intended to improve upon the solunar tables, in use since the 1920s, that claim to predict the best fishing and hunting times based on moon phase. With more than 240,000 catches already logged, FishBrain’s proprietary computer model uses weather, tide, moon phase and other data to produce a fishing forecast for a given region. The company hopes to expand to include more species as it gains traction.

▪ Certified scuba divers and landlubbers alike are invited to attend Operation Dive 24 starting at noon Dec.27 at Jules Undersea Lodge in Key Largo. The 24-hour event is a fundraiser for the nonprofit Worldwide Christian Scuba Divers Organization (wcsdo.org). Certified divers may sign up for blocks of time to spend submerged in the region’s only underwater habitat located 21 feet deep in a protected lagoon. For non-divers, there will be volleyball, water sports, and arts and crafts. Admission is free, but funds raised from pledges will be used to build houses, fix plumbing and buy eyeglasses, shoes and toys for children living on Caribbean islands where the group travels to dive, according to spokesman Howard Scott.

“These are divers who love to dive, and they also love to help people,” Scott said.

The organization has several chapters in the United States and is working to set up a chapter in Key Largo.