Spearfishing in the Florida Keys

What To Know Before You Go. . .

Spearfishing is defined as the taking of any saltwater fish through the instrumentality of a spear, gig, or lance operated by a person swimming at or below the surface of the water. The use of powerheads, bangsticks, and rebreathers remains prohibited.

Possession of spear equipment:

Possession of spears and spearguns is prohibited in Everglades National Park, Dry Tortugas National Park and Florida State Parks. Coral is protected from damage and taking in state and federal waters.

Bag and Size Limits:

The federal bag limits cannot be combined with state bag limits. Remember to abide by regulations regarding size limits. Objects underwater appear 25% larger. Check with agencies for current regulations: www.myfwc.com or www.nmfs.noaa.gov.

License Requirements:

Recreational harvesters are required to possess a valid Florida Saltwater Fishing License. Consult your license agent for purchasing and exemptions to licensing requirements or visit www.myfwc.com.

Dive Flag: All divers and snorkelers in the water are required to prominently display a diversdown flag. The minimum size for any divers-down flag displayed on a buoy or float towed by the diver is 12” by 12”. The minimum size for any divers-down flag displayed from a vessel or structure is 20” by 24”. Any divers-down flag displayed from a vessel must be displayed from the highest point of the vessel or such other location which provides that the visibility of the divers-down flag is not obstructed in any direction.

State Waters are all salt waters surrounding the Florida Keys out to three (3) nautical miles from the nearest point of land including islands on the Atlantic side and out to nine (9) nautical miles from the nearest point of land including islands on the Gulf side. Consult NOAA nautical charts. Information and chart distributors can be found at http://chartmaker.ncd.noaa.gov/.

  • Unincorporated Monroe County
  • It is unlawful for any person to use, fire or discharge any speargun on or below the surface of the water in any man-made canal in the unincorporated areas of Monroe County.
  • Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
  • Existing Management Areas (EMA’s)
  • Possession of spearfishing equipment within an Existing Management Area is prohibited except while transiting through without stopping.
  • Key Largo - adjacent to John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park and extends to the 300’ depth
  • Looe Key
  • The following no-take areas are marked by 30" diameter round yellow buoys:
  • Sanctuary Preservation Areas (SPA’s)
  • Carysfort Reef
  • Cheeca Rocks
  • Elbow
  • Alligator Reef
  • Key Largo Dry Rocks
  • Coffins Patch
  • Grecian Rocks
  • Sombrero Key
  • French Reef
  • Looe Key
  • Molasses Reef
  • Newfound Harbor
  • Conch Reef
  • Eastern Dry Rocks
  • Hen and Chickens
  • Rock Key
  • Davis Reef
  • Sand Key
  • Special-use Research Only Areas
  • Conch Reef
  • Tennessee Reef
  • Looe Key Patch Reef
  • Eastern Sambo
  • Ecological Reserves
  • Western Sambo
  • Tortugas (not currently marked)
Species Prohibited for Harvest by Spearing:
  • African Pompano
  • Red Drum
  • Billfish
  • Sharks
  • Bonefish
  • Snook
  • Goliath Grouper (Jewfish)
  • Sturgeon
  • Lobster
  • Spotted Eagle Ray
  • Manta Ray
  • Spotted Seatrout
  • Nassau Grouper
  • Tarpon
  • Permit
  • Tripletail
  • Pompano
  • Weakfish
  • Families of Ornamental Reef Fish
  • (Surgeonfish, Trumpetfish, Angelfish, Butterflyfish, Porcupinefish, Cornetfish, Squirrelfish, Trunkfish, Damselfish, Parrotfish, Pipefish, Seahorse, Puffers, Triggerfish except gray and ocean)

Know Your Fish Before You Go (These 2 fish are protected and often confused with similar looking species.)

Goliath Grouper (Jewfish)

head and fins covered with small black spots; irregular vertical bars present on the sides of body; pectoral and caudal fins rounded; eyes small

Nassau Grouper

color light background with brown or red-brown bars on sides; stripe in shape of tuning fork on forehead; black dots around the eyes; large black saddle on caudal peduncle

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