(9 nautical miles from the Florida coast line)

As with all things involved with the federal government, you have a lot of agencies involved.   

The federal governing agency for the gulf is the " Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council ".

(Click to go to the Gulf Council's web site)

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council is one of eight regional Fishery Management Councils established by the Fishery
Conservation and Management Act of 1976.(better known as the Magnuson-Stevens Act.

(Click to see the Magnuson-Stephens Act in full)

The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, headquartered in Charleston, South Carolina, is responsible for the conservation
and management of fish stocks within the federal 200-mile limit off the east coast of Florida from Key West north along the east coast
of Florida to the northern boundary of North Carolina.

The federal regulations are found here

( 2009-2010 Recreational Fishing Regulations for Gulf of Mexico Federal Waters )

If you intend to fish federal waters, you need to go to this link and print out a copy of their entire regulations. You also need to get on
their email list to receive new changes (which can happen overnight sometimes). If you would like to be on their e-mailing list, email  
""  with "Subscribe" in the subject line. To receive information via U.S. mail, call Charlene Ponce
1-888-833-1844 ext. 229.

If you intend to catch and keep certain blue water fish known as "Highly Migratory Species" (HMS), you will need to get a
permit for those fish you catch from FEDERAL waters. (Not state waters). Go to this web site,


for more information and to obtain the permit.   NOTE: It says Atlantic, but that includes the Gulf of Mexico as far as HMS Permits

-  In a nutshell, to keep a Highly Migratory Species (HMS)in FEDERAL waters, you need a HMS Permit.

-  Highly Migratory Species are:                

Sharks: common thresher, pelagic thresher, bigeye thresher, shortfin mako, blue .  For more information on which sharks  may be
kept, go to this website:


Tunas: North Pacific Albacore, Yellowfin, Bigeye, Skipjack, and northern Bluefin. (Does not apply to Blackfin) Go to this website for
more information on the tunas:


Billfish/swordfish: striped marlin, Pacific swordfish, Blue Marlin, White Marlin
Other: dorado (also known as dolphinfish and mahi-mahi)
Under the FMP, the Council monitors other species for informational purposes, and some species-including great
white sharks, megamouth sharks, basking sharks, Pacific halibut and Pacific salmon-are designated as prohibited. If
fishers targeting highly migratory species catch these species, they must release them immediately.

-  You do not need a HMS Permit to catch Blackfin Tuna.

-  The HMS Permit is good for one calendar year, from January 1 to December 31, no matter when you purchase it.

-  Cost: $ 28.00 year.

-  The HMS Permit is assigned to one BOAT (NOT an individual) If you have one for your boat, but fish from a buddies boat that
does not have one, you can not use your HMS Permit.

NOAA  has a website on the Higly Migratory Species, go to it for more information:


It gets pretty confusing, you need to call the folks above if you have specific questions.


In reality, all fishing (commercial and recreational) in the Gulf federal waters is controlled by the National Marine Fisheries Service
(NMFS), a sub part of NOAA, which is a part of the Department of Commerce.  The administrator for this region is Dr. Roy Crabtree,
located in St. Petersburg, Florida.      
                              FISHING REGULATIONS WITHIN STATE WATERS:
                                                         (Out to 9 nautical miles in Florida)

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is responsible for making and enforcing the fishing regulations for
state waters. These may be divided into Freshwater Regulations and Saltwater Regulations.  

How do I know whether freshwater and saltwater regulations apply? And, how  do I know whether I need a saltwater or freshwater
license?  Answer: Depends on the TYPE of fish you catch, NOT where you are fishing. In general, you need a freshwater license to
take freshwater fish and a saltwater license to take saltwater fish. Obviously, if you are fishing in pure freshwater where no saltwater
species live, you need a freshwater license, and likewise, if you are fishing in the ocean or Gulf of Mexico, you need a saltwater
license. However, when you get into areas where saltwater and freshwater commingle, and fish of both types can be found, the type
of license you need depends on the species you take or attempt to take. The types of freshwater and saltwater fish may be found in
the appropriate regulations below.  

The local FWC contact is:        FWC Northwest Region Office
                                           3911 Highway 2321
                                           Panama City, FL 32409-1658
                                           (850) 265-3676

The regulations are changed frequently. FWC publishes a new edition both their saltwater and freshwater Fishing Regulations to
take effect each January and July of each year. Copies can be picked up at most bait or tackle stores or the local Okaloosa County
Tax Collector's office.



As stated before, these regulations are highly "fluid" and can change quickly. Check the following web site for the latest.


If you have a question concerning Florida's fishing regulations, give them a call at 850-265-3676 or, click here to email them

The days when you could go fishing and keep all of your fish are long gone. As commercial and recreational fishermen have
increased catch pressure on our limited fishing resources, various government agencies have instituted more rules and
regulations in an attempt to maintain a sustainable fishing stock.  A difficult balancing act with a lot of opinions and controversy.  
However, for the common recreational fisherman, you must be aware of the rules and regulations governing you or you will be
facing some hefty fines and other penalties.

There are two main government agencies that make the rules for our area.

State of Florida:  Makes the rules for all freshwater fishing in the state of Florida, and for all saltwater fishing out to nine
NAUTICAL miles from the Florida coast line in the Gulf of Mexico (Note: Florida's state waters only go out to three nautical miles
from Key West north along the Atlantic side of Florida).  The Florida agency that
makes and enforces the Florida regulations is the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation

Other states: Texas state waters also go out to 9 Nautical miles, but
Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana state waters end at
nautical miles.

The waters that are governed by each state are considered that state's

Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council:  Makes the rules for all saltwater fishing in the Gulf of Mexico from nine
NAUTICAL miles out to 200 Nautical miles from the coastline. Its boundary begins at Key
West and goes north along the Gulf of Mexico's coast line. These waters are referred to
as FEDERAL WATERS. The federal waters may also be referred to as the Exclusive
Economic Zone.    
Click to go the the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council web site.

Florida's Freshwater Fishing

Florida's Saltwater Fishing
Fishing Destin
Regulations and rules governing fishing in the
Destin area