January 2015 Section A
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Information from COE
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
NEW for January 2015
We're including the following on the Anchoring & Mooring Pilot Program and All Aboard Florida with information received as of December 23. It will be included in the upcoming edition of the FCD ... unless more news can be gleaned by us before Press Time!
Check our Archives over the last few months for more information.
Anchoring & Mooring Pilot Program (most recent survey, with 12/7/14 deadline) apparently complete but no results have been announced at our Press Time.
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) continue to be unsettled at our Press Time.
USCG's request for comments on All Aboard Florida continues, probably 'til June, by mail at Office of the Commander, 7th Coast Guard Dist., Brickell Plaza Federal Bldg., 909 SE 1st Ave., #432, Miami, FL 33131-3050.
For up-to-date information on both of the above situations we suggest checking websites as 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.
SEASONAL GROUPER CLOSURE STARTS JAN. 1 IN ATLANTIC, MONROE COUNTY WATERS
Several species of grouper will close to recreational and commercial harvest starting Jan. 1 in Florida state waters of the Atlantic, including Monroe County. This seasonal closure includes gag, black, red, yellowmouth, yellowfin and tiger grouper; scamp; red hind; rock hind; coney; and graysby. State waters in the Atlantic are from shore out to 3 nautical miles.
The harvest of these species of grouper in Atlantic state waters will remain closed through April 30, reopening May 1. The harvest closure was established to ensure the long-term sustainability of Atlantic grouper species.
A similar closure will also occur in federal waters of the Atlantic. Tiger grouper is not included in the federal closure.
BLUE CRAB TRAP CLOSURE IN NORTHWEST FLORIDA STARTS JAN. 5
Recreational and commercial blue crab traps must be removed from some northwest Florida waters before Jan. 5, the first day of a 10-day trap closure.
Blue crab traps may not be in state waters (shore to 9 nautical miles, including intracoastal waterways) from the Florida/Alabama state line through the Franklin/Wakulla county line from Jan. 5 through 14. Waters of the Ochlockonee River and Ochlockonee Bay are not included in this closure.
These closures will give groups authorized by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) the opportunity to identify and retrieve lost and abandoned blue crab traps from the water.
Closures may be reduced in duration if it is determined that the number of lost and abandoned traps in the region will take less time to remove.
Until trap season reopens, blue crabs may be harvested with other gear, such as dip nets and fold-up traps. Blue crab harvesters may also use standard blue crab traps during the closure if the traps are attached to a dock or other private property.
Lost and abandoned blue crab traps are a problem in the blue crab fishery, because they can continue to trap crabs and fish when left in the water. They can also be unsightly in the marine environment, damage sensitive habitats and pose navigational hazards to boaters on the water.
The closure is one of three regional, 10-day blue crab trap closures that will occur in 2015. Coastal waters from Broward through Pasco counties will close to traps July 10-19, and waters from Hernando through Wakulla counties, including all waters of the Ochlockonee River and Ochlockonee Bay, will close to traps July 20-29. There are six regional closures total: three in even-numbered years on the east coast and three in odd-numbered years on the west coast (see map).
For more information regarding the FWC’s trap-retrieval program, blue crab trap closure dates, regulations and cleanup events, go to MyFWC.com/Fishing (click on “Saltwater Fishing,” then “Trap Retrieval/Debris Removal”). For additional information, contact the FWC’s trap-retrieval coordinator, Kyle Miller, at 850-487-0554.
LADIES, LET’S GO FISHING!
REPORT FLORIDA LIONFISH APP UPDATED WITH NEW INTERACTIVE MAP
The Report Florida Lionfish app is now more interactive than ever. Not only can you continue reporting your lionfish sightings and catches, your reports and photographs are documented on an interactive map. The map includes your important data such as where you found your catch, the date caught, how many you saw or removed and what type of gear you used. You can use this map to help determine where lionfish are being spotted and what reefs have recently been cleaned. There is even a “show reef” option that maps all of Florida’s artificial reefs and provides the location and depth at which each reef can be found.
You can also share your submission on Face book or Twitter. Use #FWCLionfish to make sure we see it as well.
Download the app today at the Apple Store or Google Play. Don’t forget the most important information, the latitude and longitude where you caught your lionfish and the date caught. We can’t add your data to this new map without it.
Lionfish are a nonnative species that have a negative impact on Florida’s native wildlife and habitat. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) encourages you to remove lionfish from Florida waters whenever you can.
The FWC shares all data with the U.S. Geological Survey, which has been collecting similar data for years.
Learn more about lionfish by visiting MyFWC.com/Lionfish.
TRY ONE OF FWC’S NEW SALTWATER GRAND SLAMS
This column begins with a question and ends with a challenge: Do you know what a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Saltwater Grand Slam is? If not, you are missing out on an exciting opportunity.
Last month, we rolled out nine new Saltwater Grand Slams and what we found was, while many people knew what the concept meant, almost everyone had their own definition. Some argued that if it had the word “grand” in the title, it had to include exactly four species (because, you know, hitting a grand slam in baseball means getting four runs in). And some indicated that grand slams were specific to certain regions of the state, and that you had to catch the slam while fishing in that specific region to qualify. Several others listed slams they had grown up with that may or may not be on our list.
I’m here today to set some of these misconceptions straight and to challenge you to try your hand at an FWC Saltwater Grand Slam.
An FWC Saltwater Grand Slam challenges anglers to catch three specific fish species in a 24-hour period. While the title “grand” can sometimes indicate a challenge of catching four different species, the FWC grand slams only require three. Consider yourself lucky that we went easy on you… this time.
While some slams might be regional, our slams can be achieved by anyone, any age, anywhere across Florida. The only thing that might limit them from being caught in a specific area is if one of the three listed species cannot be found in your area. Of course, that is all the more reason for someone to hitch up the trailer to the truck and take a road trip!
And finally, while we did go from four slams to nine, we may not have included some of your personal favorites. Maybe you were a fan of one of our older slams, or maybe there is a local one you’ve always known about. Or, you may have tried for another organization’s grand slam. The FWC also has freshwater slams and, even though we run our Slam program through them, the International Game Fish Association has its own set of slams that are different from the FWC slams. Our slams may not be the ones you grew up with, but we carefully selected our challenges to be just that, a new and exciting experience for you. After all, the goal is to entice you to learn more about Florida’s vast recreational fishing opportunities.
Ready for the challenge? Catch and submit one of these Grand Slams and receive a certificate signed by both the executive director of the FWC and the president of the International Game Fish Association, as well as a colorful shirt in recognition of your achievement.
The new Grand Slams include:
•Inshore Grand Slam: red drum, spotted seatrout, flounder
•Family Slam: any three fish in the same family (example: gag, red grouper, black grouper
•Blue Water Slam: dolphinfish, sailfish, wahoo
•Florida Grand Slam: permit, tarpon, bonefish
•Shoreline Slam: sheepshead, kingfish (whiting), Florida pompano
•Reefs and Rubble Slam: black sea bass, gag, gray triggerfish
•Nearshore Slam: cobia, tripletail, king mackerel
•Bay and Estuary Slam: gray (mangrove) snapper, snook, Spanish mackerel
•Small Fry Slam (specifically for children 15 and under): pinfish, grunt, catfish
To submit your Grand Slam, visit our MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater” and “Angler Recognition,” then click on “Apply Today” under the Grand Slam section and submit your entry to the IGFA address at the bottom of the form. Persons of all ages can apply for any of the slams listed, with the exception of the Small Fry Slam, which is limited to children 15 and under.
What do we need from you?
Please be able to provide the names of the species caught, an estimated size in length, the amount of time it took you to get the fish to the boat (fight time), what you caught them with and the name and contact information of a witness.
Do you need to submit a photo?
Yes, so make sure to have that camera ready and at hand. Anglers who submit photos with the application may also be recognized on MyFWC.com, Facebook or even the Saltwater Regulations publication. Make sure you are using proper fish handling techniques in your photograph or else we won’t be able to use it.
Do you need to keep your catch?
No. Anglers do not have to harvest their fish to be eligible, and, actually, we encourage you to release your catches alive.
Have questions? Email AnglerRecognition@MyFWC.com.
This spring, the FWC will also unveil two more new Saltwater Angler Recognition programs, including the Saltwater Life List (like a birding life list, but for fish) and our Reel Big Fish program (rewarding you for your exceptional catches).
Don’t forget to record all of your catches on the iAngler phone app or at snookfoundation.org. Share your photos, stories and comments with us at Saltwater@MyFWC.com or visit our Ethical Angler page by going to MyFWC.com/Fishing and selecting “Saltwater” then “Ethical Angler Photo Recognition Program” at the bottom of that page.
“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.
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 with updates.
MAIN STREET BRIDGE ON ST. JOHNS RIVER, JACKSONVILLE, BRIDGE REPAIRS AND FLORIDA – ATLANTIC INTRACOASTAL WATERWAY – PALM SHORES TO WEST PALM BEACH – FLAGLER MEMORIAL/ROYAL PARK/SOUTHERN BOULEVARD BRIDGES: Bridge Construction/Waterway Restriction/Temporary Bridge Regulation Changes/Update.
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 April 30, 2015, the Main Street Bridge will open with a two hour advance notice between the 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. The project completion date is April 30, 2015.
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.
Superior Construction Company has advised the Coast Guard that they will be using a snooper truck as part of this operation which will reduce the vertical clearance to 22 feet at different locations. The snooper truck can be removed if 30 minutes advance notice is provided.
Please note these dates may change or be added due to unforeseen circumstances such as weather or equipment failure. Unless specifically identified in the schedule, mariners should anticipate the described opening restrictions are in effect. Additionally, to support mariners with the latest information we have provided a cell phone to the bridge tenders at the Main Street Bridge who can be contacted at any time, 904-891-2191.
Scheduled bridge closures to navigation
6am Jan 10, 2015 – 6am Jan 11, 2015
6am Jan 17, 2015 – 6am Jan 18, 2015
6am Jan 24, 2015 – 6am Jan 25, 2015
Ref: LNM 04 through 50-14
FLORIDA – ATLANTIC INTRACOASTAL WATERWAY – PALM SHORES TO WEST PALM BEACH – FLAGLER MEMORIAL/ROYAL PARK/SOUTHERN BOULEVARD BRIDGES: Bridge Construction/Waterway Restriction/Temporary Bridge Regulation Changes/Update.
The Florida Department of Transportation has advised that the Flagler Memorial Bridge will be placed in the open to navigation position for a six month period. 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 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 will be changed starting November 1, 2014, to once an hour on the quarter-hour. Starting Wednesday, November 12, 2014, in addition to the once an hour schedule, the Flagler Memorial Bridge will be allowed to not open at 8:15 a.m. and at 4:15. p.m. Monday through Friday except Federal holidays to allow for rush hour traffic. The bridge will be allowed to remain closed to navigation with no exemptions except for emergencies. The Royal Park and Southern Blvd Bridges will return to their normal operating schedules per 33 CFR 117.261: (v) Royal Park (SR 704) bridge, mile 1022.6, at Palm Beach. The draw shall open on the hour and half-hour.
(w) Southern Boulevard (SR 700/80) bridge, mile 1024.7 at Palm Beach. The draw shall open on the quarter and three-quarter hour.
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 50-14 Chart: 11472
FLORIDA – ATLANTIC INTRACOASTAL WATERWAY –WEST PALM BEACH TO MIAMI –WEST PALM BEACH – LAKE AVENUE/ROBERT HARRIS BRIDGE: Temporary Bridge Regulations/Bridge Repair.
The Florida Department of Transportation has initiated coordination with the Coast Guard to consider regulations on the Lake Worth/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 12:05 a.m. to 4:59 a.m. and from 7:05 a.m. to 10:59 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. 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. On Saturday, Sunday and Federal holidays the bridge will open on-demand.
Coastal Gunite Construction Company has advised the Coast Guard that they will start this project on September 2, 2014 and will continue until May 15, 2015.
Ref: LNM 45-13 through 50-14 Chart: 11467 CG File: 2674
FLORIDA - GULF INTRACOASTAL WATERWAY - TAMPA BAY TO ANCLOTE – TREASURE ISLAND CAUSEWAY BRIDGE: Regulation Change.
Commencing September 1, 2014, the regulation governing the operation of the Treasure Island Causeway Bridge across the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway mile 119.0 will be permanently changed to: the bridge shall open on signal except that from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. the draw need open on the hour, 20 minutes past the hour and 40 minutes past the hour Monday through Friday and on the quarter hour and three quarter-hour on Saturday, Sunday and Federal holidays.
REPEATING IN JANUARY FOR HIGHLIGHTED INFORMATION
FLORIDA - GULF INTRACOASTAL WATERWAY - TAMPA BAY TO ANCLOTE – PARK BOULEVARD BRIDGE: Bridge Repairs.
Pinellas County has hired Seacoast to repair the Park Boulevard Bridge across the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, St. Petersburg Beach, Pinellas County, Florida. From September 28 through October 29, 2014, the bridge will be left in the open to navigation position as the machinery will be removed and the bridge will be unable to function.
During this time the contractor will be repairing/painting portions of the bridge from a work barge in the waterway. From October 29 through December 12, 2014, the Park Boulevard Bridge will be allowed to operate on single-leaf operations. A double-leaf operation will be available with a four hour notice to the bridge tender. Once the Park Boulevard Bridge is placed in the open to navigation position, the vehicle traffic will need to be detoured to Indian Rocks Beach to the north and Tom Stuart/Welch Causeway to the south.
For this reason, the Coast Guard is considering placing opening restrictions on both of these bridges to assist the local communities. A coordinated effort between the Local School Board, Florida Department of Transportation and the U.S. Coast Guard is ongoing to determine the best times to leave these bridges closed to navigation during the heaviest periods of rush hour traffic and school bus traffic. As soon as the temporary restrictions are finalized.
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 began on February 14, 2014 on the north side of the channel with completion scheduled for July 30, 2014. The pile driving operation on the south side is scheduled to begin on January 5 with completion scheduled for April 30, 2015. The estimated completion date for this project is June 2016.
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 will begin 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.