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 FEBRUARY from FWC

REMINDER:
GULF GROUPER RECREATIONAL SEASON WILL NOT CLOSE FEB. 1
 
This is a reminder that the Feb. 1 through March 31 closure that would have affected several species of grouper in Gulf state waters has been removed and will not occur as it has in previous years. This closure was removed at the September 2013 meeting of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

A similar closure was also removed in federal waters shoreward of the 20 fathom line, or about 120 feet (excluding waters off Monroe County). To learn more about the federal closure, visit the NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Office at Sero.NMFS.NOAA.gov and click on “Fisheries,” “Gulf Fisheries,” “Reef Fish” and “Gag and Shallow-water Grouper Framework – Recreational Season.”

The closure would have applied to the following species: black, red, yellowfin, scamp, yellowmouth, rock hind and red hind.
The closure did not apply to gag grouper, which has its own season and opens April 1 through June 30 in state waters off Franklin, Wakulla, Taylor and Jefferson counties; and from July 1 through Dec. 3 in all other state waters of the Gulf (excluding Monroe County, which is managed under the Atlantic season).

More information regarding Gulf grouper fishing regulations is available online at MyFWC.com/Fishing by clicking on “Saltwater Fishing,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Gulf Grouper.”

For immediate release: January 24, 2014
Contact: Amanda Nalley, 850-410-4943

Photos available on FWC’s Flickr site: Go to http://flic.kr/s/aHsjE3U5LQ.

Visit MyFWC.com/Fishing to learn more.
 

ANGLERS HAVE MORE OPTIONS TO MAXIMIZE SURVIVAL OF RELEASED FISH
 
As of Jan. 24, Florida anglers are no longer required to have and use a venting tool when fishing for reef fish such as snapper and grouper in Gulf of Mexico state waters. Removal of this rule means anglers will have the freedom to determine how to best maximize survival of released reef fish using devices they feel are appropriate, depending on the circumstances.
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.
Venting tools are hollow, sharpened instruments (see picture) that provide one way to treat barotrauma, a condition that occurs when fish are brought quickly to the surface from deep water. The change in pressure from depth to surface can cause gases within the fish’s swim bladder to expand, which can damage internal organs and reduce the likelihood a fish will survive when returned to the water. Venting tools allow gases to escape from a fish’s body cavity so the fish can swim back down to depth. While venting tools are still a useful way to increase chances of fish survival after release, fish do not always need to be vented to survive upon release.


Feb pic

Descending devices, which send fish back down to deeper waters, are another, more recently developed alternative to venting that also can be used now to increase survival rates among fish with barotrauma.
The requirement to have a venting tool was removed during the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Nov. 21 meeting, making state regulations consistent with rules in federal waters.
Venting tools are not required in Atlantic state or federal waters.
The use of non-stainless steel, non-offset circle hooks and dehooking devices are still required in state and federal Gulf waters when fishing for reef fish. These tools minimize handling time for reef fish, which aids in survival of the fish upon release.
To learn more about recognizing barotrauma and venting tools, and what to do if a fish is suffering from the effects of barotrauma, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater Fishing,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Fish Handling” and look under “Tackle.” Information about reef fish gear rules is available under “Recreational Regulations.”

SNOOK TO REOPEN IN ATLANTIC STATE WATERS
 
The recreational harvest season for snook reopens on Feb. 1 in Florida’s Atlantic coastal and inland waters (from the Miami-Dade/Monroe county line north), including Lake Okeechobee and the Kissimmee River. The season will remain open through May 31.

In the Atlantic, anglers may keep one snook per day that is not less than 28 or more than 32 inches total length, which is measured from the most forward point of the head with the mouth closed to the farthest tip of the tail with the tail compressed or squeezed while the fish is lying on its side. A snook permit is required to keep snook, along with a saltwater fishing license unless exempt from the license requirements. Only hook-and-line gear is allowed when targeting or harvesting snook.

It is illegal to buy or sell snook.

Snook are one of the many reasons Florida is the Fishing Capital of the World. As a result, the FWC encourages anglers to use moderation when determining whether or not to take a snook home, even during the open season.

Researchers ask anglers who harvest the fish to save their filleted carcasses and provide them to the FWC by dropping them off at a participating bait and tackle store. For the county-by-county list, go to MyFWC.com/Research and click on “Saltwater,” “Saltwater Fish,” “Snook,” and “Snook Anglers Asked to Help with Research.”

The harvest of snook in all of Florida’s Gulf of Mexico state waters, including Everglades National Park and Monroe County, will reopen March 1. Anglers may catch and release snook during the closed season, but the FWC encourages anglers to handle and release these fish carefully to help ensure their survival upon release. Proper handling methods can help ensure the species’ abundance for anglers today and generations to come. To learn more about fish handling, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater”, “Recreational Regulations” and “Fish Handling.”
For more information visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Snook.”

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.

NEW for FEBRUARY per CAPTAIN JOHN YEAGER

There have been delays in the construction of the new  FLAGLER MEMORIAL BRIDGE, St. Mile 1021.9, Palm Beach and West Palm Beach, and a completion date has not been announced as of our Press Time, January, 2014. Other area bridges may have schedule changes as well.

Although our new edition's Chart 8 shows current restrictions (inserted below),  mariners should be aware that these times may be changing, causing possible delays in the area. You can contact bridges on CH 9.

ST. MILE 1021.9: FLAGLER MEMORIAL BRIDGE
Closed 17'. Construction continues. Restricted all year, on the quarter hour schedule except that from 8:16AM to 9:14AM and from 4:16PM to 5:14PM, this bridge will be allowed to remain closed to navigation, Mon.-Fri. until repairs are completed.

ST. MILE: 1022.6: ROYAL PARK BRIDGE
Closed 30'. Restricted all year, opens on the hour and half-hour. except that from 8:01AM-8:59AM and from 4:31PM to 5:29PM this bridge will be allowed to remain closed to navigation, Mon-Fri. until repairs are completed on the Flagler Memorial Bridge.

ST. MILE 1028: LAKE AVENUE/ROBERT HARRIS  BRIDGE (SR 802) Closed 35'. (Reported 38' at center.) Until further notice,  will open on quarter-hour and three-quarter hour, 24 hrs. a day, 7 days a week. US Public Vessels and tugs with tows will be passed at any time.

ST. MILE 1031: LANTANA EAST OCEAN AVENUE BRIDGE
Closed clearance 24'. Restricted all year, opens on the hour and half hour. (Bridge replacement complete.)
 

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February 2014 Section A

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