December 2015 Section A
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Information from COE
RECENT ANNOUNCEMENTS on OKECHOBEE WATERWAY & LOCKS. Keep checking at www.saj.usace.army.mil
Information 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 web site is www.MyFWC.com
FROM OUR CREW TO YOURS ...
MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
Be sure to watch for Christmas Boat Parades ... wherever you are!
BOAT PARADES TO LIGHT UP THE FLORIDA KEYS HOLIDAY SEASON
FLORIDA KEYS -- Lighted and decorated boats of all shapes and sizes are to illuminate the crystalline waters of the Florida Keys in December, drawing visitors to local hubs to watch five boat parades and catch the Keys' holiday spirit.
From Key Largo to Key West, visitors can view the parades from the shore or excursion boats, or even become part of the festivities by decking out their own boats in dazzling lights and eye-catching seasonal decorations.
Saturday, Dec. 12, 7:30 p.m.
Key Largo Holiday Lighted Boat Parade (Key Largo)
Boats ranging from single-person kayaks to elegant yachts are to show off festive decorations in a lively holiday procession of vessels on Key Largo's Blackwater Sound. Great viewing spots can be found at Sundowners, Jimmy Johnson's Big Chill, Señor Frijoles, the Marriott Key Largo Bay Resort and Caribbean Club, all around mile markers (MMs) 103-104. For more information, visit www.keylargoboatparade.com .
Saturday, Dec. 12, sunset (around 6 p.m.)
Boot Key Harbor Christmas Boat Parade (Marathon)
At this Middle Keys holiday event, dinghies, mega-yachts and vessels in between are to cruise the harbor in a sparkling procession. The best viewing sites include Lazy Days South, Marathon Marina, Dockside Tropical Café and Burdines Waterfront around MMs 47-50. For more information, visit www.bootkeyharbor.com/Parade.html .
Saturday, Dec. 12, 8 p.m.
Schooner Wharf Bar Lighted Boat Parade (Key West)
Festively decorated kayaks, fishing craft and schooners are to light up Key West's Historic Seaport and harbor areas during the annual Schooner Wharf Bar Lighted Boat Parade. Spectators can view the dozens of participating vessels from resorts, bars and restaurants in and around the Historic Seaport. For more information, visit www.schoonerwharf.com .
Sunday, Dec. 13, 6:30 p.m.
Key Colony Beach Holiday Lighted Boat Parade (Marathon Area)
Spectators can applaud vividly lit boats in the Middle Keys at the Key Colony Beach Lighted Boat Parade. Open to all boats, the parade is set to start at the 7th Street canal and wind its way through canals and cuts. The best viewing spots include the Sadowski Causeway at MM 53.5 and the dock area behind city hall and the post office. For more information, visit www.kcbca.org/kcbca-events/holiday-lighted-boat-parade/ .
Saturday, Dec. 19, 7 p.m.
Lower Keys Lighted Boat Parade (Lower Keys)
All boats are welcome to participate in this favorite Lower Keys holiday event. Santa and Mrs. Claus are expected to arrive and hand out candy to the kids. Best viewing spots include Kiki's Sandbar at 183 Barry Ave. on Little Torch Key. For more information, call Steve Estes at 305-923-5370 or email firstname.lastname@example.org .
REPEATING IN DECEMBER
All Aboard Florida (private investment group's plan to run 32 trains a day from Orlando to Miami causing more bridge closures on the St. Lucie, Loxahatchee and New Rivers) continues to be unsettled at our Press Time.
For up-to-date information on both of the above situations we suggest watching Florida news and checking websites listed for Boat Owners Association of the United States (BoatUS.com) FWC (myfwc.com) and this monthly website update, where press releases appear as received.
RED TIDE CONFIRMED IN FLORIDA: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Contact: Kelly Richmond, FWC 727-502-4784
Suggested Tweet: The Florida red tide is naturally occurring and other facts you should know: http://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/FLFFWCC/bulletins/1227789 #Redtide #FWCresearch #Florida
Red tide is a naturally occurring, higher-than-normal concentration of microscopic algae. In Florida, the species that causes most red tides is Karenia brevis. This organism produces toxins that can affect the central nervous system of aquatic organisms such as fish and marine mammals. Red tide toxins also pose a human health risk. The toxins can aerosolize and be carried to beaches with onshore winds, leading to respiratory irritation in people. Toxins can accumulate in shellfish and result in illnesses if contaminated shellfish are consumed. Shellfish harvesting areas are closed when blooms are present.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) researchers are currently monitoring two blooms along Florida’s Gulf coast, one located in northwest Florida and the other in southwest Florida.
“We confirmed the presence of both blooms in September, and they have persisted since that time,” said Alina Corcoran, FWC research scientist. “The bloom in the Panhandle is currently affecting Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Bay and Gulf counties. In southwest Florida, patchy blooms have been confirmed along Pinellas, Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte and Lee counties. Extensive fish kills and respiratory irritation have been associated with the bloom in the Panhandle but in southwest Florida the effects have been less.”
Red tide public health tips:
•People in a red tide area can experience varying degrees of eye, nose and throat irritation. When a person leaves an area with a red tide, symptoms usually go away.
•People with severe or chronic respiratory conditions such as asthma or chronic lung disease are cautioned to avoid areas with active red tides.
•In some red tides, dead fish wash ashore; during these conditions it is advised that beachgoers avoid swimming in water where dead fish are present.
•Pet owners are advised that red tide poses a risk to animals brought to the beach. If a pet swims in a red tide patch at the beach, rinse off its fur and paws as soon as possible with fresh water. Also, do not let pets eat fish or drink water from the red tide.
•Recreational harvesting of bivalve mollusks such as hard clams, oysters and mussels from approved shellfish harvesting areas is banned during red tide closures. To determine whether harvesting of shellfish is permitted in an area, visit the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Aquaculture website.
FWC researchers work closely with partners, including Mote Marine Laboratory, the University of South Florida, Department of Health, Department of Agriculture and NOAA, to track blooms, share information and develop products that help to inform both citizens and scientists about bloom conditions.
“Citizen scientists play a vital role in tracking blooms. Volunteers can provide the majority of water samples for bloom tracking in regions like the Panhandle,” said Corcoran.
For updated red tide status reports, to track blooms or learn more about red tide, visit MyFWC.com/RedTide . To report fish kills to the FWC, contact the Fish Kill Hotline at 800-636-0511 or submit a report online .
Additional red tide resources:
•Mote Marine Laboratory Beach Condition Reporting System at Mote.org/Beaches
FWC approves Atlantic gray triggerfish size, bag limit changes
At its Nov. 18 meeting in Panama City Beach, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved changes to the gray triggerfish size and bag limits in Atlantic state waters.
The approvals include:
•In Atlantic state waters: Changing the recreational and commercial minimum size limit from 14 to 12 inches fork length and creating a 10-fish recreational bag limit
•Statewide: Changing the sale and import size limit from 14 to 12 inches fork length
These changes will go into effect on Saturday, Nov. 21.
The changes were approved after stakeholders in southeast Florida expressed concerns that a 14-inch minimum size limit for gray triggerfish, which was implemented in July 2015, may not be appropriate for Atlantic state waters. The FWC approved the 14-inch size limit earlier this year as part of a federal consistency measure.
Stakeholders expressed that a smaller size limit is more appropriate because gray triggerfish are, on average, smaller in size in state waters off the Atlantic coast of south Florida than they are in other federally managed regions along the Atlantic. FWC realized public input from all areas affected by the size limit change was not received by federal fishery managers.
A stock assessment on Atlantic gray triggerfish is expected to be completed in 2016. Therefore, the new 12-inch size limit and 10-fish recreational bag limit will be in effect until Oct. 31, 2016. This will give fishery managers time to review assessment results and determine if other management measures are needed.
FLORIDA PLAN CONSERVING 57 IMPERILED FISH AND ANIMALS READY FOR PUBLIC COMMENT
Today at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) meeting in Panama City Beach, staff presented the draft of the Florida Imperiled Species Management Plan, an innovative, integrated and comprehensive approach to conserving multiple imperiled species.
The plan combines managing the specific needs of 57 imperiled species with a new, larger-scale strategy addressing how to help multiple fish and wildlife species thrive and survive in the habitats they share.
The plan’s key objectives include working on filling data gaps and identifying more systematic, coordinated approaches to imperiled species management. The FWC designed the plan to make more efficient use of its resources in order to achieve measureable goals on important conservation priorities.
“This is an exciting and groundbreaking strategy with science working the way it should,” said Julie Wraithmell, director of conservation for Audubon Florida. “We are excited to see a tailor-made plan that will fit each species like a glove.”
Stakeholder involvement throughout this process has been very important to the FWC.
“Working closely with stakeholders, we are blazing the trail with this innovative process,” said FWC Chairman Brian S. Yablonski. “Some species are going on the list and some are coming off but all 57 are winners in this process.”
The public is invited to read and comment on the draft of the plan, with the opportunity to provide feedback over the next 60 days. It is available online at MyFWC.com/Imperiled.
The FWC first approved this new conservation model in 2010, and creating the plan has been a continuing collaborative effort. Recently, the public and stakeholders submitted more than 500 comments on improving earlier drafts of the plan.
“From the tiny blackmouth shiner to the Florida sandhill crane, the Imperiled Species Management Plan will conserve 57 species that reflect the diversity and beauty of our state’s wildlife. Floridians’ input, support and actions are also critical to making the plan a success,” said Dr. Brad Gruver, HSC section leader for Species Conservation Planning. “Once the plan is approved in 2016, the FWC will need many partners, both individuals and organizations, to help make this plan a living, working approach to conserve these imperiled species for future generations.”
Important things to know about the Imperiled Species Management Plan:
•It includes one-page summaries for each species, including a map of their range in Florida and online links to their Species Action Plan. The action plans contain specific conservation goals, objectives and actions for all 57 imperiled species.
•It also has Integrated Conservation Strategies to benefit multiple species and their habitats that focus implementation of the plan on areas and issues that yield the greatest conservation benefit for the greatest number of species.
•The 57 species in the plan include (* indicates it is coming off the list of imperiled species):
8 mammals: Big Cypress fox squirrel, Eastern chipmunk*, Everglades mink, Florida mouse*, Homosassa shrew, Sanibel rice rat, Sherman’s fox squirrel and Sherman’s short-tailed shrew
21 birds: American oystercatcher, black skimmer, brown pelican*, Florida burrowing owl, Florida sandhill crane, least tern, limpkin*, little blue heron, Marian’s marsh wren, osprey (Monroe County population), reddish egret, roseate spoonbill, Scott’s seaside sparrow, snowy egret*, snowy plover, southeastern American kestrel, tricolored heron, Wakulla seaside sparrow, white ibis*, white-crowned pigeon and Worthington’s marsh wren
12 reptiles: alligator snapping turtle, Barbour’s map turtle, Florida brown snake (Lower Keys population), Florida Keys mole skink, Florida pine snake, Key ringneck snake, peninsula ribbon snake* (Lower Keys population), red rat snake* (Lower Keys population), rim rock crowned snake, short-tailed snake, striped mud turtle* (Lower Keys population) and Suwanee cooter*
4 amphibians: Florida bog frog, Georgia blind salamander; gopher frog* and Pine Barrens treefrog*
9 fish: blackmouth shiner, bluenose shiner, crystal darter, harlequin darter, Lake Eustis pupfish*, key silverside, mangrove rivulus*, saltmarsh top minnow and Southeastern tessellated darter
3 invertebrates: Black Creek crayfish, Florida tree snail* and Santa Fe crayfish
•Among the plan’s 57 species, 14 were listed as state Threatened prior to the plan and will remain listed as state Threatened; 23 will change listing from Species of Special Concern to state Threatened; five will remain Species of Special Concern; and 15 will be removed from the imperiled species list but continue to be included in the plan for direction in monitoring and conserving them..
Find out more about the plan at MyFWC.com/Imperiled .
FWC APPROVES GULF GREATER AMBERJACK CONSERVATION MEASURES
At its Nov. 18 meeting in Panama City Beach, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved closing Gulf state waters to recreational harvest of greater amberjack for the remainder of 2015. Greater amberjack closed to harvest in Gulf federal waters Sept. 28.
Greater amberjack will close to harvest in state waters on Saturday, Nov. 21 and will remain closed through Dec. 31. Both state and federal waters will reopen Jan. 1, 2016.
This closure should help prevent exceeding the annual federal recreational quota, which is the poundage of fish that can be caught each year while maintaining a sustainable fishery.
The Commission approved keeping the recreational red grouper season open in state waters. Though the federal season has closed, the Commission voted to keep the season open based upon a reduced bag limit from four to two fish implemented earlier this year, the low risk to significantly impacting the federal recreational quota and the importance of the recreational fishery in the fall and winter seasons, especially in southwest Florida.
To learn more about greater amberjack and red grouper regulations, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater” and “Recreational Regulations.”
GAG GROUPER RECREATIONAL HARVEST CLOSES IN MOST GULF WATERS IN EARLY DECEMBER
Gag grouper will close for recreational harvest in most Gulf of Mexico state waters Dec. 4, with the last day of harvest being Dec. 3. All Gulf federal waters will close Dec. 3, with the last day of harvest being Dec. 2.
State waters off Franklin, Wakulla, Jefferson and Taylor counties were open from April 1 through June 30 and were not open during the July 1 through Dec. 3 season. Monroe County is also excluded from the July 1 through Dec. 3 season because it follows Atlantic rules for gag grouper.
The FWC manages marine fish from the shore to 9 nautical miles in the Gulf of Mexico.
To learn more, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Gulf Grouper.”
FROM CAPT. JOHN YEAGER
Error on Chart 11. PLEASE NOTE that the Oakland Park Bridge schedule is incorrect on Chart 11. The bridge opens on the hour and half-hour.
Please note that on page 68 in your FCD and accept our apologies ...!
REPEATING IN DECEMBER
FLORIDA – ATLANTIC INTRACOASTAL WATERWAY – WEST PALM BEACH TO MIAMI – MIAMI – BROAD CAUSEWAY BRIDGE: Bridge Discrepancy
The Broad Causeway Bridge across the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, Miami, Florida is on singe-leaf operations at the quarter-hour and three-quarter hour until further notice. A double-leaf opening is available if two hours advance notice is provided to the bridge tender at 305-891-2221. This bridge provides a horizontal clearance of 33 feet with one leaf in the closed position.
M&J Construction has advised the Coast Guard that starting January 12, 2015, they have begun repairing the Broad Causeway Bridge. In order to complete these repairs, the Coast Guard has agreed to allow this bridge to operate on single-leaf operations with a four hour notice for a double-leaf opening to the bridge tender. Mariners are advised that during this 480 day operation, M&J Construction will be requesting permission to block the navigation channel at night to install the fender system under the bridge. This nighttime work will minimize disruptions to marine traffic. The start of this operation will be published in a future Local Notice to Mariners.
Ref: LNM 13 through 50-14 Chart: 11467
REPEATING in DECEMBER
FLORIDA – MIAMI ENTRANCE CHANNEL – MIAMI BEACH CHANNEL – EAST VENETIAN BRIDGE:
Temporary Final Rule. The East Venetian Bridge is closed to navigation until further notice. The West Venetian Bridgeis open to navigation position until such time as the approaches to the bascule bridge have been repaired. REF: LNM 39-14 through 41-15 and Docket Number USCG-2014-0719 Chart: 11467.
REPEATING in DECEMBER
FLORIDA – MIAMI TO MARATHON AND FLORIDA BAY – HAWK CHANNEL – SNAKE CREEK BRIDGE: Test Deviation.
The Coast Guard is temporarily changing the regulations governing the Snake Creek Bridge across Snake Creek, Islamorada, Florida. From 8:00 a.m. on March 16, 2015 until 6:00 p.m. on May 10, 2015, the Snake Creek Bridge will be allowed to open on signal, except that from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. this bridge will open at the top of the hour, seven days-a-week. Ref. LNM 08 through 41-15 and Docket Number USCG-2015-0046 Chart: 11451.