Catch-and-release restrictions begin in Tampa Bay for snook, redfish and spotted seatrout due to red tide

New snook, redfish, and spotted seatrout catch-and-release measures for Tampa Bay (FWC map)

Effectively immediately, there is a temporary order making snook, redfish catch-and-release only in Tampa Bay due to the red tide blooms and massive fish kills in the area.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission made the announcement late Friday morning. The restriction will continue through September 16.

The catch-and-release order applies to the following areas:

  • All Florida waters of Manatee County north of State Road 64, including all waters of the Braden River, and all tributaries of the Manatee River, excluding all waters of Palma Sola Bay.
  • All Florida waters of Hillsborough County.
  • All Florida waters of Pinellas County, excluding all waters of the Anclote River and its tributaries. 

The regulations outside of those areas remain unchanged. 

"While it’s unfortunate that we must do this so close to the recent reopening of these species to harvest in this area, we know temporary catch-and-release measures such as these are successful in keeping fisheries sustainable throughout red tide events such as this one," said FWC Executive Director Eric Sutton in a statement. "We will continue working with our partners, stakeholders and local communities to evaluate this situation." 

RELATED: Fishing Report: July 16, 2021

Fish have been dying by the tens of thousands off the Pinellas County coast and Tampa Bay due to the persistent red tide algae bloom. Clean-up crews across the county have been trying to get the dead fish before they reach ashore. In St. Petersburg alone, more than 800 tons of dead sea life have been collected. 

MORE: Tracking red tide: With algae blooms, not all Bay Area beaches are alike

Recently, dead goliath groupers and a manta ray appeared along the St. Pete coast. 

For days, a massive red tide cleanup effort has been underway, forcing St. Pete officials to recruit crews from across different city departments. Daily, they have been trying to keep up and clear dead marine life along the coast.