At their March meeting, Commissioners with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved rules to allow for the production and sale of Florida largemouth bass as a food product.
Statutory changes made during the 2021 legislative session sanctioned the sale of Florida largemouth bass produced in aquaculture facilities for food. Staff worked with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) to ensure continued genetic conservation of Florida’s iconic freshwater game fish. Key points from the approved rule language include:
- Allow for the culture and sale of Florida largemouth bass as a food fish.
- Incorporate FWC’s Genetic Authentication Standards for Florida largemouth bass into rule by reference.
- Prohibit the importation into or transportation within the state of any live bass species, except permitted Florida largemouth bass that meet FWC’s largemouth bass Genetic Authentication Standards.
- Require any shipment of live bass in Florida to be accompanied with documentation required by FDACS and FWC.
Prior to presentation of the draft rules at the December Commission meeting, staff held four public meetings and solicited online comments from stakeholders. Both angling and industry stakeholders attended meetings and their combined input was taken into consideration and utilized during the rule drafting process.
“We appreciate the ongoing collaboration with FDACS, and we are confident in the established protocols in place to protect Florida’s iconic gamefish,” said Commissioner Gary Lester.