FWC executive order: Redfish, snook catch-and-release only

Redfish and snook should be catch-and-release only because of the red tide bloom off the coast of southwest Florida, according to an executive order issued by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Thursday. 

FWC said anyone who catches snook and redfish between the northernmost point of Anna Maria Island in Manatee County to Gordon Pass in Collier County must release it until October 12, according to the executive order.

Guide fisherman Captain Justin Moore sees the impact first hand, with more that two decades of experience fishing and conducting tours in the area's hit the hardest by red tide. 

"It's the right thing to do for sustainability  fishery and the future of our fishery and the future generations," he said. "If I don't have fish to catch, I'm out of a job."

READ THE FULL EXECUTIVE ORDER: http://myfwc.com/media/4483041/eo18-38.pdf

FWC said it would continue to work with local communities as they help manage the issue and ensure the recovery of the fisheries. 

“We’ve seen the devastation to the redfish and snook populations in southwest Florida, and we support the catch-and-release initiative taken by FWC,” said Brian Gorski, Executive Director of Coastal Conservation Association Florida. 

RELATED: Red tide: High levels found 10 miles off Pinellas coast

The FWC says it is safe to eat other local finfish as long as the fish are filleted before they are eaten. Red tide can accumulate in the guts of the fish, but they are disposed of when the fish are filleted. The FWC says it's never a good idea to eat dead or distressed animals, especially in a red tide area.  

FWC says store-bought and restaurant-served shellfish are safe because they're monitored by the government for safety. Commercially- harvested local shellfish are also tested for red tide toxins before they are sold.

For more information on the red tide guidelines for fishing and shellfish, head to the FWC website.