Changes coming to Gulf cobia management

Special to The Log
Luke Bilger, 12, hauled in this 74.7 pound cobia to take first place on the leaderboard in the Junior Division of the Cobia World Championships at Harbor Docks. He was fishing aboard the Sweet Caroline with his dad Capt. Danny Bilger. [TINA HARBUCK/THE LOG]

At its December meeting in Gainesville, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) took final action to approve several changes to the management of cobia in state waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

These changes are based on stakeholder input and concerns from anglers, and will further promote sustainable management of the cobia fishery.

FWC held a workshop in May of this year at the Destin Community Center where local captains and anglers were able to give input. Cobia migrate along the Emerald Coast during the spring and the local area hosts multiple tournaments that offer big money for the hunted fish.

Approved changes will go into effect Feb. 1, 2018, and include:

• Creating a Gulf/Atlantic management boundary defining all state waters north of the Monroe-Collier county line as “Gulf state waters” for purposes of managing cobia.

• Making the recreational and commercial bag limits for cobia in Gulf state waters the same by reducing the commercial limit from two to one fish per person.

• Reducing the recreational and commercial vessel limit in Gulf state waters from six to two cobia per vessel, per day.

The current 33-inch minimum size limit will not change.