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Skip Navigation LinksDNREC : News : Delaware adopts new 15-inch minimum size limit for tautog

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Contact: Joanna Wilson, Public Affairs, 302-739-9902.

Delaware adopts new 15-inch minimum size limit for tautog

DOVER (Aug. 14, 2012) – Effective Aug. 11, 2012, anglers catching tautog in Delaware waters are now able to keep fish of 15-inch minimum length. DNREC adopted the reduction from the previous 16-inch minimum size limit in response to new management guidelines from the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC).

“This new 15-inch minimum size limit is welcome news to many recreational anglers. The measure provides more protection for the tautog population, but allows for some additional harvest by anglers fishing in Delaware waters,” said Fisheries Administrator John Clark.

Results from a 2011 ASMFC stock assessment indicated that tautog is overfished, meaning estimated tautog numbers are lower that what the ASMFC considers a healthy, sustainable population size. Overfishing is thought to be occurring because fishing is removing tautog from the population at a rate that does not allow the species to rebuild to a healthy level.

To balance fishing impacts with the goal of stabilizing and growing the population, the ASMFC directed Delaware to reduce its annual tautog harvest. Initially, Delaware was required to make a 53 percent reduction. However, an error was identified and corrected in the assessment, resulting in a 37 percent reduction. As a result, Delaware was allowed to develop less restrictive measures than initially adopted, choosing to make the necessary adjustments by lowering the minimum size requirement.

The current season and bag limits will remain in place as follows:

Jan. 1 through March 31                    5 fish possession limit

April 1 through May 11                       3 fish possession limit

May 12 through July 16                      Closed season

July 17 through Aug. 31                      5 fish possession limit

Sept. 1 through Sept. 28                     Closed season

Sept. 29 through Dec. 31                    5 fish possession limit 

For more information on Delaware fishing regulations, please check the 2012 Delaware Fishing Guide, available online at and at fishing license agents throughout the state, or call the Fisheries Section at 302-739-9914. 

Anglers who have a hard copy of the 2012 Delaware Fishing Guide should note the change on the pullout reference guide.

Vol. 42, No. 311

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