August 2013 Section A

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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

US ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS HOLDING PUBLIC MEETINGS ON PORT EVERGLADES HARBOR

This information (taken from July 19 Release #13-051) was too late for our last update but comments will be accepted through August 13. More complete information at the Jacksonville District Site, http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/ where further reports will most likely be available early in August.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District has scheduled two public meetings for Tuesday, July 23rd at the Broward County/Fort Lauderdale Convention Center to discuss the release of the draft (of the) tentatively selected plan for Port Everglades Harbor. At this writing (July 22) meetings are scheduled to include a brief presentation and opportunity for questions and comments from the public.

The District is conducting a study to deepen Port Everglades’ channel from 42-feet to 48-feet, and widen the entrance channel. The primary objectives of the project are to decrease costs associated with vessel delays from congestion, channel passing restrictions, decrease transportation costs, and increase channel safety and maneuverability for existing and larger vessel use.

Hard copies of the report are located at the following Broward County Public Libraries: North Regional Library, South Regional Library, West Regional Library, and the Main Library. An electronic copy of the draft report and appendices are located at  http://wwwsajusacearmymil/About/DivisionsOffices/Planning/EnvironmentalBranch/EnvironmentalDocuments.aspx#PE.

Official comments may be submitted to Ms. Terri Jordan-Sellers at 904-232-1817 or Terri.Jordan-Sellers@usace.army.mil through August 13, 2013.

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 FWC

Notes on Fishing Rules and other announcements

LOBSTER SEASON OPENS AUGUST 6
from New Release - Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Recreational and commercial spiny lobster season starts August 6 and runs through March 31.

Spiny lobsters must have a carapace length greater than 3 inches to be taken during the open seasons. Divers must possess a measuring device, and lobsters must be in the water while they are measured.

Harvest of egg-bearing females is prohibited. Spiny lobsters must remain in whole condition until they are brought to shore. Harvesters cannot use any device that might puncture, penetrate or crush the shell of the lobster.

Lobster harvest is prohibited at all times in Everglades National Park, Dry Tortugas National Park, Biscayne Bay/Card Sound Spiny Lobster Sanctuary, certain areas in Pennekamp Park, and no-take areas in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
During the Aug. 6 to March 31 regular season, the daily recreational bag and on-the-water possession limit is six spiny lobsters per person.

While diving, spiny lobster harvesters may encounter nonnative, invasive lionfish. FWC encourages people to remove lionfish to limit negative impacts to native fish and wildlife. There is no bag limit for the nonnative, invasive lionfish.

You must have a recreational saltwater fishing license and a spiny lobster permit to recreationally harvest spiny lobsters unless you are exempt from recreational license requirements. Information about these licenses and permits is available online atMyFWC.com/License.

Be safe when diving or snorkeling for spiny lobsters and when boating around other divers. Be sure to stay within 300 feet of a properly displayed divers-down flag (red with a white diagonal stripe) when in open water and within 100 feet of a properly displayed divers-down flag if on a river, inlet or navigation channel. Boat operators must slow to idle speed when traveling within 300 feet of a divers-down flag in open water or 100 feet of one on a river, inlet or navigational channel. Divers-down flags displayed on vessels must be at least 20 inches by 24 inches, and a stiffener is required to keep the flag unfurled. The flag must be displayed from the highest point of the vessel and must be visible from all directions. When divers are out of the water, the flag must not be displayed. Dive flags carried on floats must be at least 12 inches by 12 inches. More information on divers-down flag requirements is available online at MyFWC.com/Boating by clicking on “Boating Regulations.”
Additional information on recreational spiny lobster fishing, including how to measure spiny lobster, is available online at MyFWC.com/Fishing by clicking on “Saltwater,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Lobster.”

 

REPEATING the following JULY RELEASES IN AUGUST for LATER INFORMATION:
GULF GRAY TRIGGERFISH SEASON, BAG LIMIT CHANGES EFFECTIVE JUNE 10 IN STATE, FEDERAL WATERS THROUGH JULY 31; HARVEST REOPENS IN STATE WATERS AUGUST 1.

Changes to how Gulf of Mexico gray triggerfish are managed in state and federal waters went into effect June 10. These changes include a recreational and commercial season closure and the implementation of recreational and commercial bag limits.

Earlier this year, state and federal fishery managers approved a recreational and commercial season closure for June 1 through July 31. Because this season closure does not go into effect until June 10, for 2013 only, the closure will start June 10 and run through July 31, with harvest reopening Aug. 1 in state waters. In future years, the closure will start June 1 and run through July 31.

A two-fish recreational bag limit and a 12-fish commercial bag limit also will go into effect on June 10.

Gray triggerfish have a unique spawning behavior that makes them vulnerable during the peak spawning season, usually between June and July. Male triggerfish coax females to nesting areas, where they all care for and guard their eggs after spawning. Closing gray triggerfish during their peak spawning time and implementing a recreational bag limit and a commercial trip limit should help rebuild the species’ numbers.

More than 60 percent of gray triggerfish caught in the Gulf of Mexico come from state and federal waters off Florida, which makes the state’s management of the species integral to the success of the federal rebuilding plan.

Changes to recreational harvest in state waters, including the June 1 through July 31 season closure and the two-fish bag limit, were approved at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) February meeting in Orlando, making state regulations consistent with federal recreational regulations.

Federal fishery managers approved changes to the commercial harvest of Gulf gray triggerfish, including the 12-fish trip limit and the June 1 through July 31 commercial harvest closure. The FWC requires fishers harvesting gray triggerfish commercially in Gulf state waters to have a federal reef fish permit. One condition of the federal reef fish permit is that harvesters must follow federal reef fish rules, even when they are fishing in state waters. This means that commercial harvesters in state waters must abide by the new federal commercial trip limit and closed season.

Learn more about Florida’s recreational gray triggerfish management in state waters by visiting MyFWC.com/Fishing and clicking on “Saltwater,” “Recreational Regulations” and then “Triggerfish.”

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 web site is www.MyFWC.com

REPEATING IN AUGUST  for closing information: BAY SCALLOP SEASON STARTS JULY 1
bay scallop pic

It’s that time of year again to unfurl the dive flag, put a mask on and head to the coast to collect some bay scallops. The recreational season is open in Gulf of Mexico state waters (shore to 9 nautical miles) from the Pasco-Hernando county line to the west bank of the Mexico Beach Canal in Bay County starting July 1. The season will remain open through Sept. 24, with the first day of the closure on Sept. 25.

The bag limit is two gallons of whole bay scallops or one pint of meat per person, per day, with a vessel limit of 10 gallons of whole bay scallops or a half-gallon of meat. Scallops may be collected by hand or with a landing or dip net.

Scallops cannot be taken ashore outside of the open area.

There is no commercial harvest for bay scallops in Florida state and federal waters.

The average number of scallops observed during pre-season surveys doubled in Homosassa and St. Joseph Bay and increased slightly in Steinhatchee. The St. Marks average decreased substantially from June 2012, which was most likely due to effects from Tropical Storm Debby.

Be safe when diving for scallops. Be sure to stay within 300 feet of a properly displayed divers-down flag when scalloping in open water and within 100 feet of a properly displayed divers-down flag if on a river, inlet or navigation channel. Boat operators traveling within 300 feet of a divers-down flag in open water or 100 feet of one on a river, inlet or navigational channel must slow to idle speed. 

Done for the day? Help FWC’s scallop researchers by completing an online survey at http://svy.mk/bayscallops. Harvesters can indicate where they harvest scallops, how many they collect and how long it takes to harvest them. Participants can email BayScallops@MyFWC.com to ask questions or send additional information.

Learn more by visiting MyFWC.com/Fishing and clicking on “Saltwater,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Bay Scallops.”

GAG GROUPER RECREATIONAL HARVEST OPENS IN MOST GULF WATERS; CLOSES IN 4-COUNTY REGION

Gag grouper will open for recreational harvest in most Gulf of Mexico state waters and all Gulf federal waters July 1. The same day, the season will close in state waters off the coast of Franklin, Wakulla, Jefferson and Taylor counties.

The gag grouper recreational harvest season in Gulf of Mexico state and federal waters, not including Franklin, Jefferson, Wakulla, Taylor and Monroe counties, will remain open through Dec. 3. State waters off Franklin, Wakulla, Jefferson and Taylor counties were open from April 1 through June 30 and will not be open during the July 1-through-Dec. 3 season. Monroe County is also excluded from the July 1-through-Dec. 3 season because it is included in the Atlantic rules for gag grouper.

Gag grouper caught in federal waters during the July 1-through-Dec. 3 season may be taken ashore in Franklin, Wakulla, Jefferson and Taylor counties, but boats with gag grouper aboard may not stop and must have gear stowed while traveling through state waters in that region. (See maps.)

The four-county region includes all waters of Apalachicola Bay and Indian Pass, including those in Gulf County, and all waters of the Steinhatchee River, including those in Dixie County. The FWC manages marine fish from the shore to 9 nautical miles in the Gulf of Mexico.

The FWC is working with Florida’s anglers to rebuild gag grouper populations in the Gulf of Mexico back to strong, sustainable levels. 

The gag grouper recreational harvest minimum size and bag limits are 22 inches total length and two gag grouper per person.

To learn more, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Gulf Grouper.”

SOUTH FLORIDA ISSUES TOPIC OF UPCOMING WORKSHOPS; SHARE YOUR INPUT

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), in conjunction with the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council and the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Councils), will host five workshops to gather public input on south Florida marine fisheries regulations and issues.

In 2011, an Ad Hoc Joint Committee composed of the two Councils and the FWC was formed to identify issues in south Florida and create joint management solutions. South Florida waters are managed by the FWC and the Councils. The area is also home to several species that are unique to the region. These workshops are a beginning step into examining issues that are particular to south Florida.

For example, the yellowtail snapper fishery is almost exclusively in south Florida, yet because it is managed by three different entities, its season may close to harvest in one area of south Florida, such as federal waters of the Atlantic, while remaining open in other areas, such as state waters or federal waters of the Gulf. The committee would like public input on managing yellowtail snapper on a regional basis and as a whole population instead of by state waters and Gulf and Atlantic federal waters. A similar discussion will also focus on mutton snapper.

All meetings are from 5 to 8 p.m. EDT and are as follows:
•July 29: Dania Beach, International Game Fish Association Fishing Hall of Fame and Museum, 300 Gulf Stream Way;
•July 30: Key Largo, Murray E. Nelson Government and Cultural Center, 102050 Overseas Highway, Mile Marker 102;
•July 31: Key Colony Beach, City Hall, Auditorium, 600 W. Ocean Drive, Mile Marker 53.5;
•Aug. 1: Key West, Harvey Government Center, 1200 Truman Ave., 2nd floor;
•Aug. 5: Marco Island, Marriott Beach Resort, 400 S. Collier Blvd.
For questions or comments, please contact the FWC Division of Marine Fisheries Management at 850-487-0554 or Marine@MyFWC.com.
 

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.
 

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