old salt blog

Why is it mandatory to do the FWC Gulf Reef Fish Survey?

“Defining The Universe of anglers”, “intention to harvest”, “attempt to harvest”, population of the angling community. WHAT?!? These are all terms heard recently from the Florida Wildlife Commission, attempting to explain the newly announced Gulf Reef Fish Survey.

What does this all mean to me you may be asking yourself? Simply put, it is a census, a count of saltwater anglers specifically in this particular case, those who target reef fish. It’s that for sure, but it is more. It is the our chance to get real data about our fisheries and our fisherman in the state of Florida.

Perhaps you’ve seen other information on “The Gulf Reef Survey” already. You may even have formed an opinion about it. Good, bad or indifferent the fact of the matter is, this is not just a survey, or an optional exercise that so many believe it to be. In conversation with a member of the scientific community the Gulf Reef Fish Survey was described as “probably mandatory”. Now that’s a real oxymoron (jumbo shrimp)… really! In fact “The Gulf Reef Fish Survey” is not simply a survey it is a MANDATORY, no fee permit.

Why was the Gulf Reef Fish Survey created? It exists because we, the recreational angling community, has demanded better data collection to help properly assess and maintain our own natural resources. There is, and has been, a very low level of confidence in the “science” some regulatory authorities employ with regard to reef fish stocks. With the hard work of the FWC and many others we now have a shot at better data through The Gulf Reef Fish Survey.

Speaking of data, the FWC is using what they call an “approved data stream” data collection method. Approved Data Stream? This is another one of my favorite terms. This is where the survey part comes into play. Once you have registered for this free survey (permit),you may be selected to answer some basic questions about your trip and catch log. So, when you are surveyed, forget for a moment that you are fishermen “a nice way to say no fish tails” and answer the questions honestly, truthfully and to the best of your ability. You, the angler, are the principal source of data for this approved stream. It is your open and honest answers that will provide the FWC with the accurate data that is so desperately needed!

What species is the FWC looking for? Well, here’s a list: Red Snapper, Gag Grouper, Greater Amberjack, Lesser Amberjack, Banded Rudderfish, Almaco Jack, Red Grouper, Black Grouper, Vermilion Snapper and Gray Triggerfish. The list itself, interesting for both its inclusions and omissions, should raise at least a few questions with anglers.

Who’s in, who’s out? If you do not currently fish or plan to fish for the listed species, or if you only fish for these species from a charter, for hire or head boat you are exempted from the new permit. The point of this effort is to determine the amount of anglers who target these fish. No need to muddy the waters. Please do not sign up for the permit/survey if you do not target these species or fish in the Gulf of Mexico.

There are a few more important facts to point out about The Gulf Reef Fish Survey:

  • The license needs to be renewed annually no matter what license you hold. One year, three-year, five year or lifetime, so be sure to renew it annually.
  • When you go to register for the survey it takes you to, FWC’s purchase a license page, trust me, there is no fee and this function has confused and the deterred several people that have current licenses.
  • Even if you are over 65, a veteran or disable and are not required by the state to purchase a license you are still required to do the survey.
  • If you’re caught in possession of any of the species without the permit there will be penalties associated with it, so be sure to print out your permit after registering.

Well that’s the quick gist of “The Gulf Reef Fish Survey”. We have provided links and screen captures to help you through the process. If you’re eligible be sure to register today and when surveyed be sure to give your most accurate data when asked. Finally, we have a voice as recreational anglers to provide the much needed data to aid the scientific community to better help manage our precious fisheries! SURVEY SAYS!

Tight lines and calm seas!

Tom Verdensky
President, Old Salt Fishing Foundation



This is the FWC site and explains the survey with frequently asked questions:


This is a direct link on the FWC site to SIGN UP TODAY:


Here is a walk-thru of the signup process

FWC Images

One Response to Why is it mandatory to do the FWC Gulf Reef Fish Survey?

  1. Question. I occasionally catch gag grouper on the flats from a kayak. Several near keeper size. I fish inside what you would call the gulf coast, fishing near Bunces Pass in Tierra Verde. Do I need the Gulf Reef Fish permit? How about at the Skyway Fishing pier?

Leave a reply

fishing tournament
fishing shirts

Old Salt Fishing Tournaments


Old Salt Fishing Foundation is a 501(C)(3) Tax Exempt Organization and a registered Florida Nonprofit Corporation

Let's Stay In Touch

Useful Links

Old Salt Programs Fund
Youth & Family Fishing Opportunities

Support Old Salt With Financial Donations

visit madeira beach florida

Old Salt Fishing Foundation
A Volunteer Powered Organization

Volunteer With Old Salt Fishing Foundation