The Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is seeking public comment on a proposed regulatory change to reduce the daily recreational harvest limit for red drum (Sciaenops ocellatus) and establish a vessel limit.
DNR’s Coastal Resources Division (CRD) on Aug. 23, 2022, recommended the Georgia Board of Natural Resources establish a three-fish daily limit per person and a maximum limit of nine red drum per vessel. Additionally, charter guides and mates would be prohibited from harvesting red drum while leading for-hire guided trips. At this time, CRD is not proposing any change to the existing slot size limit.
Under the proposed new regulations, for example, a vessel with three or more licensed anglers would be able to keep a maximum of nine red drum. If the vessel is a guided for-hire trip with two customers and one charter captain, the two paying customers could harvest a total of six red drum and the charter captain could not harvest any red drum.
For more information, please visit the Red Drum Town Hall recap webpage by clicking here. This webpage includes presentations on the status of red drum in Georgia in 2022, and the Saltwater Angler Satisfaction Survey. You can also access this website and associated documents in the "Quick Links" section of this page.
How do I provide public comment on the proposed changes to red drum regulations?
A written public comment period was open from August 24, 2022 through October 6, 2022. Additionally, two public hearings were held Sept. 21 and 22, 2022, in Savannah and Brunswick, respectively.
Brunswick Public Hearing Recording
The public hearing held Sept. 22, 2022, at the College of Coastal Georgia in Brunswick included a Zoom call-in component. Click here to watch the recording on YouTube, or use the embedded player below:
Frequently Asked Questions
- What factors led to CRD making this proposal?
The proposed change to red drum fishing regulations comes after CRD conducted a satisfaction survey in 2022, as well as two town hall meetings in June 2022, to assess angler and guide perceptions of the red drum fishery.
- What were the results of the Satisfaction Survey?
The majority of anglers and guides participating in both the satisfaction and town hall surveys supported creating a vessel limit for red drum. For trips with red drum harvest, private boat and guide trips have an average of three or fewer anglers per vessel. It is estimated that implementation of a nine-fish vessel limit and three-fish daily harvest limit could reduce red drum harvest by at least 11 percent. However, most angler trips would not be significantly impacted by this change.
- Why do fishing regulations change?
Fishing regulations are often changed based on results of a regional stock assessment. However, additional reasons for change include supporting other management options such as increased abundance, concerns with increasing effort, and constituent request. For red drum, the satisfaction survey and town halls indicate the majority of anglers and guides support regulatory changes for red drum.
- How have societal factors impacted this proposal?
In the last 10 years, the estimate of angler trips in Georgia state waters has increased 40 percent. This increase is statistically significant, and likely to continue. Reducing the daily limit and establishing a vessel limit would help decrease large individual catches when immature red drum are vulnerable to fishing mortality and reduce the risk of localized overfishing.