SECTION A - News & Regulations from COE, FWC and others, including Bridge information

The latest Navigation Report can be found at: www.saj.usace.army.mil which goes to the Jacksonville District.

General Information for the Okeechobee Waterway can be found at South Florida Operations Office web page.

Information from COE

The latest Navigation Report can be found at: www.saj.usace.army.mil which goes to the Jacksonville District.

General Information for the Okeechobee Waterway can be found at South Florida Operations Office web page.

 

NOTICES FROM FWC

Notes on Fishing Rules and other announcements

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (a/k/a FWC) keeps us up to date on changes that fishermen (cruising-fishermen included) should know, and other items of interest to boating people. As the audience is somewhat varied, we give a quick note on the news and suggest that those interested in specific topics check it all out at the FWC web site.
There's also information on boating, parks, ramps, etc., etc. and we'll hope to include news on anything we think you'll want to know about.

FWC’s website is www.myfwc.com


NEW For APRIL from FWC

For immediate release: March 24, 2014
 
SPINY LOBSTER SEASON CLOSES APRIL 1
 
The spiny lobster recreational and commercial season closes to harvest in state and federal waters starting April 1 and will reopen Aug. 6. The two-day recreational sport season is the last consecutive Wednesday and Thursday of July, which is July 30 and 31 this year.

For immediate release: March 10, 2014

FOR-HIRE CAPT. & CREW CAN KEEP RECREATIONAL BAG LIMITS OF REEF FISH IN ATLANTIC NOW

Suggested Tweet: For-hire capt. & crew can keep recreational bag limits of reef #fish in Atlantic starting 3/13 http://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/FLFFWCC/bulletins/a999d6 #Florida
 

For-hire captain and crew can retain recreational bag limits of vermilion snapper, groupers and golden tilefish in state waters of the Atlantic (including all of Monroe County for grouper species and golden tilefish) starting March 13. This change means that for-hire captain and crew will be able to retain recreational bag limits of all species of reef fish caught in Atlantic state waters.
This change will make state regulations consistent with Atlantic federal regulations.
Similar changes to federal rules became effective Jan. 27. The federal rule was modified because it was not effectively limiting harvest of vermilion snapper and gag grouper as originally intended and it was causing confusion because captain and crew of for-hire vessels could keep recreational bag limits of some snapper and grouper species, but not others. Additional harvest of these species by captain and crew is expected to be negligible and not negatively impact fish stocks.
To learn more about this change made at the FWC’s February Commission meeting, visit MyFWC.com/Commission and click on “Commission Meetings.” To learn more about snapper and grouper recreational regulations, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater Fishing,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Overview” under the “Reef Fish” header.


Photos available on FWC Flickr site: Go to http://flic.kr/s/aHsjyFwpBL.
Video available on FWC YouTube site: Go to http://youtu.be/5wJKeV7nHtg


LADIES, LET’S GO FISHING!’ EVENT for FISHING FUN - DANIA BEACH
 
Women are invited to explore the finest of fishing at the next “Ladies, Let’s Go Fishing!” seminar, hosted April 11-13 at the I.T. Parker Community Center, 901 NE 3rd St. in Dania Beach.
Sponsored by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) in conjunction with the Sport Fish Restoration Program, “Ladies, Let’s Go Fishing!” is a national organization dedicated to attracting more women to sport fishing and promoting conservation and responsible angling.
During the three-day, hands-on event, FWC educators will demonstrate ethical angler habits, such as safe hook removal, release techniques, fish venting and more. Local fishing guides will provide instruction on fishing techniques and methods.
On the final day of the seminar, women may embark on an optional fishing adventure.
Other upcoming Ladies, Let’s Go Fishing! events are scheduled for May 16-18 in Stuart and Nov. 14-16 in the Florida Keys.
To learn more, visit ladiesletsgofishing.com, call 954-475-9068 or email info@ladiesletsgofishing.com.

 

For immediate release: March 13, 2014
 
Photos available on FWC Flickr site: Go to http://flic.kr/s/aHsjz9U2NZ.

BE A CITIZEN-SCIENTIST: HELP FWC MONITOR HORSESHOE CRABS SPAWNING ON BEACHES
 
Spring marks horseshoe crabs’ mating season, and biologists with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) want the public’s help identifying spawning sites.
Beachgoers will likely have the best luck spotting mating horseshoe crabs around high tide, just before, during or after a new or full moon.

Mating crabs “pair up,” with the smaller male on top of the larger female. Other male crabs may also be present around the couple. Beachgoers lucky enough to spot horseshoe crabs are asked to note how many they see and whether the horseshoe crabs are mating. If possible, the observer should also count how many horseshoe crabs are mating adults and how many are juveniles (4 inches wide or smaller).

In addition, biologists ask observers to provide the date, time, location, habitat type and environmental conditions – such as tides and moon phase – when a sighting occurs.
The FWC asks the public to report sightings through one of several options. Go to MyFWC.com/Contact and go to “Horseshoe Crab Nesting Activity” for the “Submit a Horseshoe Crab Survey” link, then select “Florida Horseshoe Crab Spawning Beach Survey.” You can also report findings via email at horseshoe@MyFWC.com or by phone at 866-252-9326.

The survey program began in April 2002. Through 2013, the FWC has received 2,831 reports from across Florida.
Horseshoe crabs, often called “living fossils,” are an important part of the marine ecosystem. Their eggs are a food source for animals. Birds, such as red knots, rely on horseshoe crab eggs to fuel their long migrations to nesting grounds.
Horseshoe crabs have also proved valuable to human medicine. Pharmaceutical companies use horseshoe crab blood to ensure intravenous drugs and vaccine injections are bacteria-free and sterile. Scientists are also using horseshoe crabs in cancer research.
Coastal

For immediate release: March 11, 2014
March “Gone Coastal” column
By Amanda Nalley
 
Photos available on FWC’s Flickr site: Go to http://flic.kr/s/aHsjE3U5LQ.
SAILFISH: STATE’S SALTWATER FISH OFFERS ON-THE-WATER EXCITEMENT
 
Sailfish hold a special place in many Florida resident and visitor’s hearts. Whether they’ve admired a replica of the beautiful fish while waiting for a fresh-caught meal at a local restaurant, or felt their blood pump as one leapt into the air on the other end of a fishing line, the fish known for its tall “sail-like” dorsal fin is a Florida icon. Though you can find the highly migratory species in warm offshore waters around the globe, sailfish are so abundant off the coast of Florida and so popular with people it was made the state’s official saltwater fish in 1975.

Between its aesthetic beauty and its penchant for fighting, sailfish are a recreational favorite. Like bonefish or tarpon, two of Florida’s other iconic fishes, the sailfish has a higher value as a recreational catch-and-release species than it does as a commercial food fish. The meat is tough and is rarely eaten unless smoked.
I sat down with coworker, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission biologist and sailfish fan Justin Lerner to find out a little more about the appeal of fishing for sailfish.

“It’s very exciting fishing, especially when using a kite,” Lerner said, describing a fishing method where an actual kite is used to dangle bait at the top of the water, enticing the sailfish to take the bait right before your eyes. “It is a very fast, very acrobatic fish with a lot of energy.” Lerner caught his first sailfish in 2000 on an offshore charter trip and was instantly hooked (my apologies for the pun).

While they are typically caught in water 80 to 240 feet deep, sailfish, unlike other billfish, can be found in fairly shallow water and, though not common, have even been caught off piers in south Florida and in the northern Gulf of Mexico near Panama City.

Look for color changes in the water, Lerner said, and fish along them. When the water goes from an inshore green to a deep blue you are in the right spot.

Sailfish can be caught in every region of Florida, but they are more abundant in south Florida in the colder months, from October through March. “Cold fronts drive bait south, and fish run an interception,” Lerner said. In areas of north Florida and the Panhandle, such as Panama City, they are more abundant during the summer and fall months.
Sailfish have been regulated in state waters at least since 1988, when a possession limit of one billfish per person was implemented, sale was prohibited, and gear was restricted to hook and line. Today, there is a recreational bag limit of one billfish per person. Billfish includes blue marlin, white marlin, roundscale spearfish and sailfish. This means you can catch and keep one only billfish species per person, per day. There is no daily bag limit in federal waters for sailfish.
When fishing in federal waters, a federal Highly Migratory Species angling permit is required. Federal waters are beyond 3 nautical miles in the Atlantic and beyond 9 nautical miles in the Gulf.

While technique varies, one of the most popular ways to catch them is by kite fishing with live bait, usually goggle eyes or blue runners. Other popular techniques are slow trolling with live ballyhoo, or trolling with hookless bait and teasers and casting to fish as they appear in the trolling spread. Other popular live baits are threadfin herring and pilchards.
Hooked a sailfish? Once you get your fish to the boat, use caution. The long and pointed bill can be dangerous when attempting to unhook the fish. Lerner suggests holding the fish in the water by the bill while unhooking. Another option is cutting the line as close to the fish as possible. When release is your intention, leave the fish in the water at all times. Removing large fish from the water can cause internal damage to the fish and decrease its chances of survival. In all federal waters off Florida, a sailfish must remain in the water if you intend to release it.

While the species fights hard, it can tire and may need to be revived if you plan on releasing the fish. Use the appropriate tackle to shorten the amount of time it takes to bring your catch to your vessel. You can revive a sailfish by pointing its head into the current or pulling the fish through the current while the boat is moving slowly. This pushes water over the gills.
While most sailfish are caught and then released, if you plan on keeping yours, the sailfish caught in state or federal waters must be larger than 63 inches when measured from the end of the lower jaw to where the tail splits, also known as the fork.
Sailfish do not have a recreational closed season in state or federal waters. All sailfish and other billfish caught in state and federal waters that are taken to shore or landed must be reported to NOAA Fisheries with 24 hours by calling 800-894-5528 or visiting the HMS permits website at https://HMSPermits.noaa.gov and selecting “landing reports.”

Learn more about billfish, including sailfish, by visiting MyFWC.com/Fishing and clicking on “Saltwater,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Highly Migratory Species.”

Have questions, comments or suggestions for this column? Email them to Saltwater@MyFWC.com.

Gone Coastal is one of many ways that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Division of Marine Fisheries Management is helping recreational anglers understand complex saltwater regulations and learn more about saltwater fishing opportunities and issues in Florida. We are also available to answer questions by phone or email anytime, and we would love the opportunity to share information through in-person presentations with recreational or commercial fishing organizations. To contact the FWC’s Regulatory Outreach subsection call 850-487-0554 or email Saltwater@MyFWC.com.
 


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News from USCG

BRIDGE NOTICES:
We attempt to include here only notices regarding serious bridge operating schedules. We have discontinued listing temporary changes that draw attention to semi-serious delays such as (most) painting projects, marathons, charity runs,  single-leaf operations, etc.
An exception to the above may be made because of seasonal traffic and items previously included may be kept w/updates.


BRIDGE INFORMATION NEW for APRIL per CAPTAIN JOHN YEAGER
 

HILLSBORO INLET BRIDGE

Hillsboro Inlet Bridge (on Chart 9, page 64 in Print) opens on the quarter-hour and three-quarter hour, not "on demand" as shown. Our apologies for the error.

Following is from a new notice re: future repairs, comments welcome.

FLORIDA – EAST COAST - HILLSBORO INLET: Bridge Repairs.

PROPOSAL.

Due to repairs to the Hillsboro Inlet Bridge, this bridge will be allowed to remain closed to navigation from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 and from 12:01 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. for a two week period. This work will be completed after Easter and before July 4th, 2015. Comments on this bridge closure should be directed Mr. Michael Lieberum at michael.b.lieberum@uscg.mil. The times may be changed based on comments received; however there is a need for the two 4 hour closures to allow these repairs to be completed within the two week time period. Vessels that can pass under the bridge without an opening may do so at any time.
The roadway will be closed to the vehicle traffic completely for 19 days in additional to the above two weeks two four hours closure periods. The Florida Department of Transportation will be issuing a separate press release on this restriction.



OKEECHOBEE WATERWAY


FLORIDA - OKEECHOBEE WATERWAY – ST LUCIE INLET TO FORT MYERS – CALOOSAHATCHEE RIVER – FORT DENAUD SWING BRIDGE: Bridge Discrepancy

The Fort Denaud Swing Bridge, Ft. Denaud, Hendry County, Florida has an equipment failure and is operating manually. Starting 7:00 a.m. on Thursday, March 13, 2014 through May 15, 2014, the bridge will open once an hour on the top of the hour from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. daily. From 8:01 p.m. to 7:59 a.m. the bridge will open if at least three hours advance notice if given to 863-673-2974.

REPEATING IN APRIL

FLORIDA - ST JOHNS RIVER – MAIN STREET BRIDGE - JACKSONVILLE: Bridge Repairs.

The Coast Guard has approved a temporary change to the operating schedule of the Main Street Bridge across the St Johns River, Jacksonville, Florida, due to bridge repairs. From January 24 through December 30, 2014, the Main Street Bridge will open with a two hour advance notice between 6:00 a.m. and 6:59 p.m. to the bridge tender either via VHF-FM channel 9 or by calling 904-891-2191.

Between the hours of 7:00 p.m. and 5:59 a.m. a four hour advance notice to the bridge tender will be required to receive an opening.

During the painting operation the contractor will be placing scaffolding under the bridge which will reduce the vertical clearance of the bridge up to 10 feet.
Chart: 11491

FLORIDA – ATLANTIC INTRACOASTAL WATERWAY – WEST PALM BEACH TO MIAMI – NEW RIVER (SOUTH FORK) – I-95 BRIDGE: Bridge Repairs/Vertical Clearance Reduction.

Seminole Equipment is working on the I-95 Bridge across the South Fork of the New River, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Due to painting operations the vertical clearance will be reduced by 5 feet from January 7, 2014 through April 2014. The containment system can be retracted by two feet if 24 hours notice is provided to the contractor.
Ref: LNM 52-13 through 04-14 Chart: 11467


FLORIDA – ATLANTIC INTRACOASTAL WATERWAY – WEST PALM BEACH TO MIAMI – NEW RIVER (SOUTH FORK) – CSX RAILROAD BRIDGE: New Bridge Construction/Temporary Regulation Change/Horizontal Clearance Reduction.

The contractor working on the CSX Railroad Bridge replacement across the South Fork of the New River mile 2.8, Fort Lauderdale, Broward County, Florida has requested to temporarily change the regulation governing the existing CSX Railroad Bridge. This temporary regulation change has been approved and has placed this bridge to an on demand schedule whereas the bridge will be placed in the closed to navigation position during certain portions of the construction operations with an open on demand schedule. Mariners are requested to contact the bridge tender on VHF-FM channel 9 for opening and passing information.

The pile driving operation was scheduled to begin on February 14, 2014 on the north side of the channel with completion scheduled for June 3, 2014. The pile driving operation on the south side is scheduled to begin in August 2014.
The horizontal clearance of the CSX Railroad Bascule Bridge across the New River (South Fork) mile 2.8, Fort Lauderdale, Broward County, Florida has been temporarily reduced to 56 feet.
Ref: LNM 16-08 through 04-14 CG File: 2500FLORIDA

OKEECHOBEE WATERWAY – (SOUTH FORK) ST LUCIE CANAL – INDIAN STREET BRIDGE: Bridge Construction.

The contractor constructing the Indian Street Bridge has completed placing the new beams across the south fork of the St. Lucie Canal, Stuart, Florida. This work is expected to be completed by April 2014

With the new beams in place the vertical clearance is 55 feet at mean high water.
Mariners are reminded to remain vigilant when passing thought this area as several pieces of floating equipment will be in the vicinity of the main navigational channel until this project is completed.
Ref: LNM 18-11 through 04-14 Chart: 11428
 

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April 2014 Section A

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