Thursday, January 20, 2022

Signing up to participate in the Gulf Reef Fish Survey becomes mandatory April 1

Attention Gulf reef fish anglers: You’ve asked for better data and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has listened and taken action. Now the FWC needs your help.

Signing up to participate in the Gulf Reef Fish Survey becomes mandatory April 1, so sign up today. The easy, no-cost process will help the FWC paint a clearer picture of how many people are targeting Gulf reef fish, like red snapper and gag grouper, and what anglers are seeing on the water.

The Gulf Reef Fish Survey is for anglers (including those 65 and older) fishing in the Gulf of Mexico (excluding Monroe County) from a private boat, who plan to harvest, possess or land any of the following reef fish: red and vermilion snapper; gag; black and red grouper; gray triggerfish; greater and lesser amberjack; banded rudderfish; and almaco jack.

Those fishing from a for-hire vessel are not required to participate in the Gulf Reef Fish Survey. Anglers under 16 years of age and those fishing from a vessel that has a vessel recreational fishing license also do not need to participate.

To sign up online, visit, enter your date of birth and one of the required “Lookup Method” identifiers (Social Security number, FWC customer ID or driver’s license number) and click continue. If you are a new customer, you may have to create a customer account before you proceed to the next steps. Once you are in the system, click “Purchase a License.” Add the no-cost Gulf Reef Fish Angler to your cart (found under “Saltwater Fishing”) and then check out. Make sure to print a copy to take with you when you are fishing.

You can also sign up in person at tackle shops, sporting goods stores and your local tax collector’s office, or by phone at 1-888-FISHFLORIDA (347-4356). Renewal will be on an annual basis, just like any one-year license.

Are you a Florida resident 65 or older and exempt from needing a recreational saltwater fishing license? No worries! You are not required to purchase any other license, such as a recreational saltwater fishing license, or pay any other fees to participate. When signing up online, you are still required to click “Purchase a License,” but signing up as a “Gulf Reef Fish Angler” is no-cost.   You can also sign up in person at any tackle store or tax collector’s office.

Through this program, researchers will be able to better determine how many people in Florida are fishing for reef fish in the Gulf of Mexico. Many of those who sign up for the Gulf Reef Fish Survey will be contacted by the FWC and asked if they would be willing to provide information about their Gulf reef fish fishing activities. The Gulf Reef Fish Survey will improve recreational data collection, giving the FWC a more realistic picture of what is happening on the water and allowing for more informed fisheries management decisions.

Participants who are contacted by the FWC and do provide information about their Gulf reef fishing activities will be entered into a drawing to win an annual, five-year or lifetime recreational saltwater fishing license.

Want to know more about the Gulf Reef Fish Survey? Visit and click on “Saltwater,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Gulf Reef Fish Survey.”

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