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.

Visit MyFWC.com/Fishing to learn more.

NEW For DECEMBER

FLORIDA FISH CAMPS EARN NATIONAL ACCLAIM

Photos available on FWC Flickr site. Go to: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjM5r1ez.
 
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) claimed the top prize Nov. 21 for a Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration award in a nationwide competition administered by the American Fisheries Society (AFS).
Mike Stone of the AFS presented the 2013 Sport Fish Restoration Outstanding Project Award for aquatic education to the FWC, at its meeting in Weston, because of the FWC’s Fishing and Basic Boating Skills Camp program.
“Florida’s Fish Camp program exemplifies the professional, science-informed approach to fisheries education that effectively reaches the public, especially our youth, who are so critical to the future of fish and wildlife conservation,” said Stone.
The American Fisheries Society is the world’s oldest and largest organization dedicated to the fisheries profession and resources. It annually solicits and evaluates nominations for the project that best exemplifies the user-pays, public-benefits approach that is the Sport Fish Restoration Program.
“The FWC understands that the future of our state’s fish and wildlife resources depends on current and future generations caring enough about the resources to be committed to their care,” FWC Chairman Dick Corbett said recently when learning of the decision. “We greatly appreciate the AFS recognizing Florida’s wise use of these critical Sport Fish Restoration funds to promote conservation.”
The Sport Fish Restoration program began in 1950 and uses money paid by the industry on fishing tackle and other fees paid on pleasure boats and motor boat fuel sales to match state conservation agency funding. Florida received nearly $12 million in 2012. This is a major portion of the funding received by the FWC to help sustain recreational fisheries that generate $8.7 billion in economic impact for Florida and support more than 80,000 jobs.
The Fish Camp program was born in 2000 and nurtured through 2007 at the FWC’s Joe Budd Aquatic Education Center outside of Tallahassee. Rae Waddell, director of the Florida Youth Conservation Centers Network (www.fyccn.org), was instrumental in developing the camp outline and procedures.
According to FWC Fisheries Administrator Steve Marshall, results from an independent university evaluation of the pilot Fish Camp program demonstrate its groundbreaking success getting youth involved in healthy, outdoor recreation and becoming the next generation that cares about and understands Florida’s fisheries resources. Because of the results of the 2007 evaluation, the FWC has expanded the program, from one location with the potential to reach 80 children, to 14 locations across the state that can reach 900 children.
Marshall attributed much of the Fish Camp program success to the enthusiastic cooperation and support of organizations and agencies, including the Guy Harvey Oceans Foundation, which enabled expansion of the Fish Camp model to new locations offering saltwater fishing.

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 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.
These closures are an effort to help rebuild gag grouper populations in the Gulf of Mexico back to strong sustainable levels.
To learn more, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Gulf Grouper.”

SEVERAL CHANGES TO SWORDFISH MANAGEMENT APPROVED
Several changes to the recreational and commercial management of swordfish in state waters were approved by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) at the Nov. 21 meeting in Weston.
Swordfish management is a success story. Swordfish was overfished in the 1980s and ’90s, but has since been fully rebuilt, thanks to domestic and international conservation measures.
Recently, NOAA Fisheries Highly Migratory Species Division created a new open-access commercial swordfish fishery in federal waters to provide additional commercial swordfish harvest opportunities.
Changes to state rules approved by the Commission will allow fishermen who participate in this new commercial fishery to land and sell their catch in Florida. Additional changes include designating swordfish as a restricted species and specifying hook and line as allowable gear for swordfish harvest in state waters. Several changes to state rules are also consistent with existing federal rules, including a change to the cleithrum-to-keel (see below) minimum size limit for recreational and commercial swordfish harvest.
Changes affecting commercial harvest include:
•Designating swordfish as a restricted species.
•Exempting commercial harvesters who possess a Swordfish General Commercial permit or a Highly Migratory Species Charter/Headboat permit (when not on a for-hire trip) from the recreational bag and vessel limits. Permit holders must abide by HMS regional vessel limits.
•Allowing the sale of commercially caught swordfish under these permits.
•Closing state waters to commercial harvest if adjacent federal waters are closed.
•Requiring wholesale dealers purchasing swordfish to possess a valid federal Atlantic Swordfish Dealer permit. This change affects wholesale dealers in both the Atlantic and Gulf.
•Allowing transit of swordfish through state waters when harvested in federal waters with gear that is legal to use in federal waters.
Changes that affect commercial and recreational harvest:
•Modifying the minimum cleithrum-to-keel (CK) limit from 29 to 25 inches for all harvesters. The cleithrum is the bony area right behind the gill slit, and the keel is the horizontal ridge right before the tail fin (see photo). There is no change to the lower jaw fork length measurement also used when measuring swordfish.
•Restricting gear to hook and line in state waters.
•Clarifying federal rule references.
Changes will go into effect as soon as possible. Another public notice will be issued to announce when these changes will take effect.

FWC CONTINUES COOPERATIVE EFFORTS ON FISHERY MANAGEMENT IN BISCAYNE NATIONAL PARK
 
At its Nov. 21 meeting in Weston, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) reaffirmed its support for implementing a new Fishery Management Plan inside Biscayne National Park (BNP). FWC rulemaking will need to occur in the future for many of the Park’s proposed changes to go into effect.

“This decision offers the opportunity to start the discussion with our stakeholders on this subject, so that when we move forward, we can do so with a plan,” said Commissioner Charles W. Roberts III.
The proposed Fishery Management Plan could include adding limits on fishing parkwide, such as eliminating the use of SCUBA and trigger mechanisms when spearfishing; eliminating the spiny lobster two-day sport season; slowly phasing out commercial fishing; creating trap-free and no-trawl zones; and modifying the bag limit, size limit or seasons for some species. Each proposed change that requires FWC approval would be brought before the Commission and the public would have an opportunity to comment.
The Commission also directed staff to continue working with BNP on a supplement to the Park’s General Management Plan, with the goal of providing fishing opportunities for anglers within a previously proposed no-fishing zone.
The measures proposed under the newly identified General Management Plan preferred alternative, which includes a new and novel approach for managing fisheries, will continue to allow recreational fishing throughout the Park while meeting the National Park Service’s goals for BNP.

“We need to manage these resources for longevity and for the benefit of the people while making sure our agency and the Park Service both reach our goals,” said Commissioner Ron Bergeron. “We have to make sure we have sustainable access and enjoyment for the people of Florida.”

Public comment is currently being accepted by the National Park Service for the supplement to the draft General Management Plan; three public meetings are planned for the week of Dec. 9. Visit NPS.gov/bisc for more.

The Park’s Fishery Management Plan is intended to guide fisheries management decisions over the next five to 10 years. The General Management Plan establishes an overall long-term management philosophy about visitor use in general and a variety of activities in the Park, while guiding decision making and problem solving over a 15- to 20-year time period. The FWC has been working closely with the National Park Service on the development of these plans for more than 10 years.

“Biscayne National Park is encouraged by the FWC’s recommendations to proceed with Park planning efforts,” said BNP Superintendent Brian Carlstrom. “We look forward to continuing our cooperative approach with the FWC to improve Park resource conditions.”

To learn more, visit MyFWC.com/About and click on “The Commission,” “Commission Meetings” and “Agenda” under “November 20-21, 2013.”

VENTING TOOL REQUIREMENT REMOVED IN GULF WATERS
 
Soon Florida anglers will no longer be required to have and use a venting tool when fishing for reef fish in Gulf of Mexico state waters.
During its Nov. 21 meeting, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) removed the requirement in Gulf state waters, making state regulations consistent with rules in federal waters. By removing this rule, anglers will now have the freedom to determine how to best maximize survival of released reef fish using devices they feel are appropriate, depending on the circumstances.
The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council removed the requirement to have and use a venting tool in Gulf federal waters earlier this year.
These changes will take effect as soon as possible. Another notice will be issued to let the public know when these changes take effect.
When fish are brought quickly to the surface from deep water, the change in pressure can cause gases within the fish’s swim bladder to expand. This condition is called barotrauma and can cause damage to internal organs and reduce the likelihood a fish will survive when returned to the water. Typically, fish suffering from barotrauma must be treated if they are to survive and swim back down to deep water. Venting tools are used to treat barotrauma by allowing gases to escape from a fish’s body cavity. Descending devices, which bring fish back down to deeper waters, are another, more recently developed option that can now also be used to increase survival rates among fish with barotrauma. Maximizing post-release survival of fish is important in marine fisheries management because it means more fish survive to potentially reproduce and be harvested in the future.
While venting tools can still be a useful way to increase chances of survival after being released, fish do not always need to be vented.
Venting tools were required in Gulf state and federal waters since 2008. This requirement was intended to increase survival rates of released red snapper, but applied to all species of Gulf reef fish. These tools are not required in Atlantic state or federal waters.
The use of non-stainless steel, non-offset circle hooks and dehooking devices will still be required in state and federal Gulf waters when fishing for reef fish. These tools minimize handling times for reef fish, which aids in survival of the fish upon release.
To learn more about recognizing barotrauma, and what to do, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Catch and Release.” Information about reef fish gear rules is available under “Recreational Regulations 
To learn more, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Tarpon.”

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.

Capt. John Yeager has received the following notices about happenings with Jacksonville and West Palm Bridges ... As of NOW ...

FLORIDA – ST. JOHNS RIVER – FEC RAILROAD BRIDGE - JACKSONVILLE: Closed Clearance is 5'.

Special Operating Schedule.
Due to a mechanical failure, the FEC Railroad Bridge across the St Johns River, Jacksonville, Florida has been placed on a limited opening schedule. This bridge will remain open to navigation from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. and from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, and from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., and from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, at all other times the bridge will be closed to navigation. The bridge owner is in the process of manufacturing a part in order to replace the broken bearing. If the bearing fails before the new part can be delivered, the bridge will need to be operated manually with additional restrictions implemented.

The FEC Railroad Bridge across the St Johns River, Jacksonville, Florida will be closed to navigation from December 6 through December 13, 2013 for repairs. These dates were chosen to not interfere with the Boat Parade and other water related events scheduled in December.
Ref: LNM 33 through 47-13 Chart: 11491
 

FLORIDA – ATLANTIC INTRACOASTAL WATERWAY – PALM SHORES TO WEST PALM BEACH – FLAGLER MEMORIAL BRIDGE: Bridge Construction/Waterway Restriction/Temporary Bridge Regulation Changes/Updates

The Florida Department of Transportation has requested that the Flagler Memorial Bridge be placed on a restricted opening schedule until the new Flagler Memorial Bridge construction can be completed.
Mariners are reminded that the horizontal clearance at the Flagler Memorial Bridge is currently set at 70 feet and will remain until the new bridge is built and this bridge is removed.
The Flagler Memorial Bridge opening schedule has been changed starting November 25, 2013, to once an hour on the quarter-hour except that from 8:16 a.m. to 9:14 a.m. and from 4:16 p.m. to 5:14 p.m. the bridge will be allowed to remain closed to navigation with no exemptions except for emergencies. The Royal Park Bridge and Southern Boulevard bridges will resume their normal operating schedules per 33 CFR 117 on December 2, 2013.
While the new Flagler Memorial Bridge is under construction, the following emergency plan will remain in effect with no exceptions except for emergencies:
If an emergency occurs and the Flagler Memorial Bridge is left in the open to navigation position, all vehicle traffic will be detoured to the bridges to the south. For this reason, the Royal Park Bridge will be on an hourly schedule at the quarter-hour, except that from 8:16 a.m. to 10:14 a.m. and from 4:16 p.m. to 6:14 p.m. this bridge will be allowed to remain closed to navigation. The Southern Boulevard Bridge will remain on the twice an hour schedule (top of the hour and bottom of the hour), except that from 8:31 a.m. to 9:59 a.m. and from 4:31 p.m. to 5:59 p.m. this bridge will be allowed to remain closed to navigation.
Ref: LNM 45-12 through 47-13 Chart: 11472

FLORIDA – ATLANTIC INTRACOASTAL WATERWAY – WEST PALM BEACH TO MIAMI – WEST PALM BEACH – LAKE AVENUE/ROBERT HARRIS BRIDGE: Future Bridge Regulations/Bridge Repair.

The Florida Department of Transportation has initiated coordination with the Coast Guard to consider regulations on the Lake Avenue/Robert Harris Bridge, across the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway mile 1028.0, Lake Worth, Palm Beach County, Florida, which will allow for some bridge closures and temporary regulation changes to order to facilitate construction/repair activity on this bridge.
The Coast Guard has agreed to allow this bridge to remain closed to navigation from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. daily, Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. This bridge will be allowed to open once an hour on the top of hour for the remainder of the day if the contractor is working 24 hours a day if they are only working during daylight hours the hourly opening will be adjusted. The vertical clearance of the bridge will be reduced by 5 feet which will allow for a vertical clearance of 30 feet in the closed position.
FDOT has advised this office that they will provide at least 120 days of notice prior to the start of this construction and implementation of the regulations.
Ref: LNM 45 and 46-13 Chart: 11467 CG File: 2674
 

[Back to Top] [Section B] [Section C]
 

December 2013 Section A

Entire contents Copyright © 2013 by Waterways Etc., Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
No portion of this Web site may be reproduced in any form, printed or electronic, without the express written consent of the copyright holder.

[Home] [Store] [FCD Interactive] [News] [About] [Contact Us] [Advertisers]