January 2016 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



Snook Symposium Jan. 13; sign up today

Interested in snook research and management? Attend the 2016 Snook Symposium Jan. 13 in Orlando. Register online and learn more at MyFWC.com/Snook2016 .

The day-long discussion is open to the public and will focus on snook management and research in Florida, including the results of the soon-to-be released 2015 stock assessment, population recovery following the 2010 cold kill, and opportunities for improving snook management.

The symposium will be held at the Caribe Royale, 8101 World Center Drive in Orlando. Email Marine@MyFWC.com  or call 850-487-0554 for questions.



The recreational harvest of greater amberjack and gray triggerfish will reopen to harvest in Gulf state and federal waters Jan. 1 and the greater amberjack size limit will change from 30 inches to 34 inches fork length in Gulf state and federal waters Jan. 4.

Recent stock assessments have indicated that greater amberjack and gray triggerfish in the Gulf of Mexico are overfished, which means there are not enough fish for these populations to remain sustainable.

Greater amberjack are also undergoing overfishing, which means more fish are being removed from the population than is sustainable. Greater amberjack closed early on Sept. 28 in Gulf federal waters and Nov. 21 in Gulf state waters. These closures were intended to help prevent exceeding the annual federal recreational quota. A quota is the poundage of fish that can be caught each year while maintaining a sustainable fishery.

Changing the greater amberjack minimum size limit will help ensure more female greater amberjack are left in the water and have a chance to reproduce before being harvested. Fork length is measured from the tip of the lower jaw to the center of the fork in the tail.

Gray triggerfish closed early on Feb. 7 in Gulf state and federal waters after NOAA Fisheries determined that the recreational quota was exceeded in both 2013 and 2014, and the 2015 recreational quota was projected to be met. The 2015 early state waters closure was intended to help limit future early season closures and rebuild the stock.

To learn more about greater amberjack regulations, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing  and click on “Saltwater,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Amberjack.”

To learn more about gray triggerfish, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing  and click on “Saltwater,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Triggerfish.”



Mutton Snapper Workshops

The FWC is holding a series of public workshops to gather public input and develop a better understanding of the public’s view on management of mutton snapper.

Staff will provide a brief presentation about mutton snapper management issues that are currently being worked on and will solicit stakeholder concerns and comments about these issues. Anyone with an interest in management of Florida’s mutton snapper is encouraged to participate.

Feb. 1 - Ft. Lauderdale
SAFMC and FWC Workshop 4-7 p.m.
Hilton Garden Inn Fort Lauderdale Airport-Cruise Port
180 SW 18th Avenue
Dania Beach/Ft Lauderdale, FL 33004

Feb. 2 - Duck Key
SAFMC and FWC Workshop 4-7 p.m.
Hawks Cay
61 Hawks Cay Blvd
Duck Key, FL  33050

Feb. 3 - Key West
SAFMC and FWC Workshop 4-7 p.m.
Key West Marriott Beachside Hotel
3841 North Roosevelt Boulevard
Key West, FL 33040

Feb. 4 - Key Largo
FWC Workshop 6-8 p.m.
Murray Nelson Government Center
102050 Overseas Highway
Key Largo, FL 33037

Feb. 15 - St. Petersburg
FWC Workshop 6-8 p.m. 
3rd Floor Conference Room
100 8th Avenue SE
St. Petersburg, FL 33201

Feb. 16 - Naples
FWC Workshop 6-8 p.m.
Golden Gate Community Center
4701 Golden Gate Pkwy
Naples, FL 34116

Feb. 17 - Stuart
FWC Workshop 6-8 p.m.
City of Stuart 
Commission Chambers
121 SW Flagler Avenue
Stuart, FL 34994

Feb. 24 - Webinar
FWC Workshop 5:30-7:30 p.m.
The public may access this workshop via voice-only phone line. RSVP to the Division of Marine Fisheries Management at 850-487-0554 to obtain instructions to join the meeting via the voice-only line.



FWC Facts:

American eels are catadromous, which means they live in fresh water but go to the sea to spawn.



SET FOR JAN. 22-24

KEY WEST, Florida Keys -- Big king mackerel migrate to the waters around Key West each winter, and anglers can "migrate" to target them at the Stock Island Marina Village King Mackerel Tournament. The 20th annual challenge is set for Friday through Sunday, Jan. 22-24.

The angler who weighs in the heaviest mackerel, also known as kingfish, is to take home a guaranteed $10,000 cash prize. Second- and third-place finishers receive $3,000 and $2,000, respectively, and cash prizes are to be presented through seventh place. Award amounts are based on having a field of 70 paid boats.

If the winning kingfish weighs more than the current record of 78.66 pounds, an additional $25,000 is to be awarded.

Cash awards also await the top anglers fishing on boats that measure 23 feet or shorter, and prizes are to be presented to top female and junior anglers.

The popular annual tournament is headquartered at Stock Island Marina Village, 7009 Shrimp Road on Stock Island.

Events kick off Friday, Jan. 22, with a 3-7 p.m. registration at the marina. A mandatory captains meeting follows at 7 p.m.

Fishing begins at 7 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, running through 4 p.m. Saturday and 3:30 p.m. Sunday. All boats must return to Stock Island Marina Village for the daily weigh-in.

Following Saturday's fishing, a party is scheduled for anglers and their guests at 24 North Hotel, the tournament’s host property at 3820 N. Roosevelt Blvd. Accommodations packages are available for participating anglers.

Awards are to be presented Sunday approximately one hour after the last fish is weighed.

The tournament entry fee is $375 per angler before Jan. 12 and $425 after that date.




KEY WEST, Florida Keys -- Florida Keys commercial fishermen and fans of fresh fish and seafood are to gather Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 16-17, to celebrate the island chain's bountiful ocean harvest during the 11th annual Florida Keys Seafood Festival.

Presented by the Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen's Association, the family-friendly feast is set for 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at Key West's Bayview Park, located at Truman Avenue and Jose Marti Drive.

The savory seafood menu features fresh grilled Florida spiny lobster, "pick and peel" Key West pink shrimp, stone crab claws, fried local fish, smoked fish dip with crackers, lobster bisque and more. All seafood is to be prepared and served by local fishermen and their families.

Traditional regional favorites such as savory conch chowder and conch fritters also await attendees, as do hotdogs and hamburgers, while desserts include sweet flan and Key lime pie. Beverages ranging from soft drinks to beer and wine to island-style cocktails are to be available for purchase.

Plans also call for nonstop entertainment by local musicians including Paul Cotton, who was the longtime lead vocalist and lead guitarist for the acclaimed country-rock band Poco.

Vendor booths are to offer arts and crafts depicting aspects of the fishing community and marine life, as well as other items handcrafted by local artisans. Additional attractions include marine life exhibits, raffles and a "fun zone" with energetic activities for kids.

Admission is $5 per adult, including entry into a raffle for $250 worth of seafood, and free for children under age 12. Proceeds from the festival benefit the Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen's Association and scholarships for college-bound students from Key Largo to Key West.

Event information: www.fkcfa.org , www.monroe.ifas.ufl.edu/ , Facebook.com/kwseafood  or 305-872-9026
Key West visitor information: www.fla-keys.com/keywest  or 1-800-LAST-KEY




With just a no-cost permit, mackerel tournament directors can donate tournament-caught king and Spanish mackerel to a licensed wholesale dealer in exchange for a donation to the charity of the tournament's choice.

While this activity has traditionally occurred at mackerel tournaments in Florida, recent federal regulation changes prohibited the activity unless a state permit was issued.

In addition to helping tournaments raise funds for charity, this permit will help minimize waste of tournament-caught king and Spanish mackerel that otherwise may not have been eaten.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved the creation of this permit at its June 2015 meeting in Sarasota.

Donated fish can be caught in state or federal waters and would have to be handled and iced in accordance with seafood safety standards. Wholesale dealers must be onsite during the weigh-in to obtain the tournament-caught fish. The fish would also have to be identified as tournament catch on commercial trip tickets.

This permit will ensure that tournament-caught fish are not counted toward both the recreational and commercial fishing quotas. Although fish are recreationally caught, they enter the commercial market once donated to a wholesale dealer. Preventing these fish from being double-counted in both the recreational and commercial fishing quotas ensures more accurate landings data and prevents possible negative impacts to the commercial fishery, such as early season closures.

For more information or to apply for a permit, visit MyFWC.com/License  and click on “Saltwater” and “Mackerel Tournaments.”




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.

Grouper information, including Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico grouper regulations, is available online. Go to MyFWC.com/Fishing and select “Saltwater” then “Recreational Regulations” and “Groupers.”




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.




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):

•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 .




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 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.”



Be Aware...

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.






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




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.




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.

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