(1) The commission shall establish a license program for the purpose of issuing tags to individuals desiring to harvest tarpon (megalops atlantica) from the waters of the state. The tags shall be nontransferable, except that the commission may allow for a limited number of tags to be purchased by professional fishing guides for transfer to individuals, and issued by the commission in order of receipt of a properly completed application for a nonrefundable fee of $50 per tag. The commission and any tax collector may sell the tags and collect the fees therefor. Tarpon tags are valid from July 1 through June 30. Before August 15 of each year, each tax collector shall submit to the commission all unissued tags for the previous fiscal year along with a written audit report, on forms prescribed or approved by the commission, as to the numbers of the unissued tags. To defray the cost of issuing any tag, the issuing tax collector shall collect and retain as his or her costs, in addition to the tag fee collected, the amount allowed under s. 379.352(6) for the issuance of licenses.
(2) Proceeds from the sale of tarpon tags shall be deposited in the Marine Resources Conservation Trust Fund and shall be used to gather information directly applicable to tarpon management.
(3) No individual shall take, kill, or possess any fish of the species megalops atlantica, commonly known as tarpon, unless such individual has purchased a tarpon tag and securely attached it through the lower jaw of the fish. Said individual shall within 5 days after the landing of the fish submit a form to the commission which indicates the length, weight, and physical condition of the tarpon when caught; the date and location of where the fish was caught; and any other pertinent information which may be required by the commission. The commission may refuse to issue new tags to individuals or guides who fail to provide the required information.
(4) Any individual including a taxidermist who possesses a tarpon which does not have a tag securely attached as required by this section commits a Level Two violation under s. 379.401. Provided, however, a taxidermist may remove the tag during the process of mounting a tarpon. The removed tag shall remain with the fish during any subsequent storage or shipment.
(5) Purchase of a tarpon tag shall not accord the purchaser any right to harvest or possess tarpon in contravention of rules adopted by the commission. No individual may sell, offer for sale, barter, exchange for merchandise, transport for sale, either within or without the state, offer to purchase, or purchase any species of fish known as tarpon.
(6) The commission shall prescribe and provide suitable forms and tags necessary to carry out the provisions of this section.
(7) The provisions of this section shall not apply to anyone who immediately returns a tarpon uninjured to the water at the place where the fish was caught.