General Saltwater Fishing Regulations

By: Daniel Eggertsen

Saltwater fishing regulations vary depending not only where you are in your country, but where you are in the world. Nations claim a certain number of miles offshore before international waters commence and it is in these national waters that a country may regulate. In addition, in the United States, each state may have its own regulations.

For example, in the state of Texas, restrictions may be enforced from shore to within nine nautical miles from shore and on any fish that is taken within two hundred nautical miles of Texas shore and brought onshore into Texas. You should consult your local regulations to be able to have the information to remain compliant.

Saltwater fishing regulations generally restrict both weight and daily bag limitations of the indigenous species that are found off its shores. This is regulated by the sales of saltwater fishing licenses that must be renewed on an annual basis. On certain species, the limit might be so restricted that an additional stamp must be purchased in addition to the standard license.

What decides the size and bag limit each year? The authorities for each responsible region conduct periodic studies of species populations and propagation rates and calculate how many fish can be taken in the next season to keep the total fish population in balance. This is a very good example not only of conservancy, but of man controlling nature to ensure an adequate food supply, both for commercial and recreational purposes.

There was a time when redfish were so abundant that sport fishermen would catch as many as they could and sell the excess to local restaurants for a handsome profit, since it makes such a delicious meal. Those days are gone now although there is still some bootlegging and poaching going on. Not only that but neighboring Louisiana has much laxer laws and their fishermen catch the same fish out of the Gulf and transport them across state lines.

Red snapper is just another species whose bag limit has been reeled in in the past couple of years. The problem has been that since red snapper is such a good table fish that party boats have long gone offshore and used such devices as electric reels to net the maximum number of fish. This is not exactly the definition of sportsmanship. It would be better defined as "personal commercial fishing."

The end result is that these irresponsible fishing trips have resulted in such a decimation of the species that they are really in trouble and strict limitations have been imposed. Even so, the numbers have not rebounded as predicted. Some speculate that things in the food chain are just too out of balance. This is precisely why saltwater fishing regulations need to be predictive in nature and not a knee-jerk reaction which always comes after the damage is done.

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