January 2017 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

 

 

BLUE CRAB TRAP CLOSURE FOR 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 Jan. 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 2017 (see map). 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.

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, Pamela Gruver, at 850-487-0554.

 

 

AMBERJACK, TRIGGERFISH AND GAG GROUPER SEASON CHANGES IN GULF WATERS START JAN. 1 

Starting Jan 1, several recreational fishing season changes in Gulf waters will go into effect including: 

•Greater amberjack will open
•Gray triggerfish will remain closed
•Gag grouper will close in most Gulf waters.

See below for details on each season.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) manages marine fish from the shore to 9 nautical miles in the Gulf of Mexico.

Greater amberjack

The greater amberjack season in Gulf state waters has been closed since Sept. 10.

This temporary closure was put into place because NOAA Fisheries estimated that the 2016 annual federal recreational quota was exceeded and the recreational harvest season in adjacent federal waters closed. The quota is the poundage of fish that can be caught each year while maintaining a sustainable fishery. Federal rules require that any harvest in excess of the quota for this overfished species must be deducted from the next year’s quota and could result in a shortened federal season. State waters closed early in 2016 to help minimize negative impacts of a quota overage on Florida anglers and the 2017 season.

Gray triggerfish

The gray triggerfish recreational season will remain closed Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2017, in Gulf state waters in response to an announcement that the 2016 federal gray triggerfish quota was exceeded by more than 200 percent and that federal waters will be closed through Dec. 31, 2017. As with greater amberjack, gray triggerfish is overfished, and when the federal quota is exceeded, federal rules require the excess harvest to be deducted from the quota used to set the following year’s season. The state waters closure will help avoid a quota overage in 2017.

The FWC approved this 2017 state waters closure at the Nov. 17 meeting in St. Petersburg. However, the FWC will consider a potential limited gray triggerfish season for fall 2017 at an upcoming meeting in an effort to provide fishing opportunities to Gulf anglers.

Gag grouper

Gag grouper will close for recreational harvest in most Gulf of Mexico state waters and all Gulf federal waters Jan. 1, 2017.

This is an annual closure and the season will reopen June 1, 2017.

State waters off Franklin, Wakulla, Jefferson and Taylor counties are open from April 1 through June 30 only and are not open during the June 1 through Dec. 31 season. Monroe County is also excluded from the June through December season because it follows Atlantic rules for gag grouper.

Learn more

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

 

January 2017
FWC's Fishing in the Know
Division of Marine Fisheries Management Monthly Newsletter

Gray Triggerfish 

Gulf season remains closed through Dec. 31, 2017

Information: The recreational harvest season for gray triggerfish in Gulf of Mexico state and federal waters will remain closed Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2017. The FWC will consider a potential limited season for fall 2017 at an upcoming meeting in an effort to provide fishing opportunities to Gulf anglers, however, the season in state waters will not reopen on Jan. 1 as regularly scheduled.

Link for more information:  Triggerfish [MyFWC.com

 

Greater Amberjack 

Gulf season opens Jan. 1

Information: The recreational harvest season for greater amberjack in Gulf state and federal waters will open Jan. 1.

Link for more information:  Amberjack [MyFWC.com

Barracuda 

South Florida size limits effective Jan. 1

Information: The following changes will be effective in state and federal waters off Collier, Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Martin counties only:

•A recreational and commercial slot limit of 15 to 36 inches fork length.
•Allowing the harvest of one fish larger than 36 inches per person or vessel per day, whichever is less.
•The recreational and commercial daily limits of 2 barracuda per person, with a max of 6 per vessel, that were established in 2015 remain in effect for these counties.

Links for more information:  Barracuda [MyFWC.com]

 

Mutton snapper 

Management changes effective Jan. 1

Information: Upcoming changes include:

•Recreational, commercial, importation and sale minimum size limits will be 18 inches in all state waters.
•Recreational bag limit will be five fish per person within the 10-fish snapper aggregate bag limit in all state waters.
•Commercial trip limit will be five fish per person, per day or per trip, whichever is more restrictive, from April through June in Atlantic state waters (this will replace the previous May through June commercial trip limit that was effective for all state waters).
•A 500-pound commercial trip limit for the remainder of the year (July through March) in Atlantic state waters.

Link for more information:  Snapper [MyFWC.com]

 

Gag grouper 

Gulf season closes in most state and all federal waters Jan. 1

Information: The recreational harvest season for gag closes in most Gulf state waters and all Gulf federal waters Jan. 1. This is an annual closure and the season will reopen June 1. State waters off Franklin, Wakulla, Jefferson and Taylor counties are not included because they are open from April 1 through June 30 only. Monroe County follows Atlantic rules for gag grouper.

Link for more information:  Grouper [MyFWC.com

 

Atlantic grouper 

Season closes Jan. 1 

Information: Several species of grouper will close to recreational and commercial harvest starting Jan. 1 in Florida state and federal waters of the Atlantic, including Monroe County. This seasonal closure includes gag, black, red, yellowmouth, and yellowfin 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.

Link for more information:  Grouper [MyFWC.com

 

Blue Crab

FL Blue Crab Trap ClosuresRegional trap closure Jan. 5-14 

Information: Recreational and commercial blue crab traps must be removed from all state waters from Franklin County to the Florida/Alabama state line before Jan. 5. Traps can be placed back in the water Jan. 15. Closures occasionally end early. Visit MyFWC.com for updates.

This regional blue crab trap closure allows FWC to identify and retrieve lost and abandoned blue crab traps from Florida waters. Lost and abandoned traps can continue to trap crabs and fish when left in the water, can damage sensitive habitats and pose navigational hazards.

Harvest of blue crabs by other gear, such as dip nets and fold-up traps, is permitted during the closure. Traps attached to private property such as a dock may remain in the water during this closure.

Links for more information:  Blue Crab [MyFWC.com

 

New Saltwater Angler Recognition Programs

Catch a Florida Memory today

Information: We all know fishing has its own rewards, but turn them into something tangible by participating in one of the FWC’s new Saltwater Angler Recognition Programs.

There are three programs you can participate in, two of which are brand new:
•Saltwater Fish Life List: A list of 71 different species. Can you catch them all?
•Saltwater Reel Big Fish: Recognition for extraordinary-sized catches.
•Saltwater Grand Slams: Earn rewards for catching 3 different specified species in a 24-hour period.

 

Lionfish Panhandle Pilot Program 

Get rewarded for your lionfish removals in 7-county region

Information: It’s not too late to earn your opportunity to harvest an extra red grouper or cobia.  For every 100 lionfish harvested from Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Bay, Gulf and Franklin counties, between May 2016 and May 2017, the harvester will be eligible to receive a tag allowing them to take either an extra legal-sized red grouper or cobia over the bag limit from state waters. All other size and season regulations still apply. The state will issue up to 100 red grouper and 30 cobia tags in total to successful participants in the pilot program. In addition, the first 10 persons or groups that harvest 500 or more lionfish during this one-year period will be given the opportunity to name an artificial reef.

Link for more information:  Panhandle Pilot Program [MyFWC.com

 

MUTTON SNAPPER MANAGEMENT  

CHANGES EFFECTIVE JAN. 1 

Several mutton snapper management changes go into effect Jan. 1, 2017. These changes were approved at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) September meeting.

Starting Jan. 1, the following changes will be in effect:
•Recreational, commercial, importation and sale minimum size limits will be 18 inches in all state waters.
•Recreational bag limit will be five fish per person within the 10-fish snapper aggregate bag limit in all state waters.
•Commercial trip limit will be five fish per person, per day or per trip from April through June in Atlantic state waters (this will replace the prior May through June commercial trip limit that was effective for all state waters).
•A 500-pound commercial trip limit for the remainder of the year (July through March) in Atlantic state waters.
Public input from several workshops in February and August 2016 was considered by the FWC when making these changes.

Though mutton snapper is not overfished or undergoing overfishing, the 2015 stock assessment indicated that the population is smaller than previously estimated. Atlantic federal fishery managers recently approved measures that would make Atlantic federal regulations similar to the recent state changes. Gulf federal fishery managers are also considering making similar measures for Gulf federal waters. These changes are intended to prevent harvest from exceeding the planned federal quotas, or number of fish that can be harvested.

To learn more, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater Fishing,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Snappers.”

 

 

DILEMMA - PLANNED CLOSING OF FEC RAILROAD BRIDGE ON FORT LAUDERDALE'S NEW RIVER

from CAPT. JOHN YEAGER for January & February FCD website updates 

All Aboard Florida's planned construction to take place from February 11 through 22, closing the New River to downtown boat traffic just west of Andrews Avenue, is causing waves during this pre-Christmas week as upriver marinas, boatyards and other businesses complain of the schedule's causing undue problems for the boating industry's heavy boating season ... which includes Miami Boat Show scheduled for February 16 - 20.

Talks are ongoing with All Aboard Florida and the Fort Lauderdale and Broward County Commissions regarding the high speed passenger rail service to run between Miami and Orlando.

As we go to our Website update scheduled for January 1, we suspect there may be further news on the situation included in our February update. 

The US Coast Guard will have final say on the Bridge Closure.

(No further news is available as of 12/31/16.)

 

 

SPINY LOBSTER SEASON UNDERWAY THROUGH MARCH 31, 2017.

The 2016 spiny lobster season regular commercial and recreational lobster season, which starts Aug. 6 and runs through March 31.lobster

Planning on catching some of these tasty crustaceans? Here is what you need to know before you go.

No one wants a small lobster for dinner. Make sure you check the size. Measuring devices are required, and lobsters harvested while diving must be measured while they are in the water. If the carapace length is not larger than 3 inches, it must be left in the water (see image on how to measure spiny lobster).

To protect the next generation and your future chances to have lobster for dinner, harvest of egg-bearing females is prohibited. Lobsters have hundreds of thousands of eggs that are easily visible and attached under the tail. While most lobsters have completed reproduction by the start of the fishing season, finding lobsters with eggs is common in July and August.

Stick to the bag and possession limits so there will be enough lobsters for all your friends and family. During the Aug. 6-to-March 31 regular season, the daily recreational bag and on-the-water possession limit is six spiny lobsters per person for all Florida waters.

Two-Day Sport Season

Where

Daily bag limit and max number you can possess while on the water

Max number you can possess off the water on July 27

Max number you can possess off the water on July 28

 

Monroe Co. and Biscayne National Park

6

6

12

 

All other Florida water

12

12

24

Know where you can go. Lobster harvest is always prohibited in Everglades National Park, Dry Tortugas National Park, Biscayne Bay/Card Sound Spiny Lobster Sanctuary, certain areas of John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, and no-take areas in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.  Visit FloridaKeys.NOAA.gov/regs/mc_lobster.pdf to learn more about areas in Monroe County that are open to spiny lobster harvest.

Bring a cooler big enough to hold the entire lobster. Spiny lobsters must remain in whole condition until they are brought to shore. Also, do not take spiny lobster with any device that might puncture, penetrate or crush its shell.

Have the proper paperwork. A recreational saltwater fishing license and a spiny lobster permit are required to recreationally harvest spiny lobsters unless you are exempt from recreational license requirements. Information about these licenses and permits is available online at MyFWC.com/License or you may purchase your license today at   GoOutdoorsFlorida.com .

Do double duty while you are in the water and remove invasive lionfish. These nonnative species are often found in the same areas as spiny lobster, and they negatively impact Florida’s native wildlife and habitat. Help keep the lionfish population under control by removing them from Florida waters. If you plan to take lionfish with a spear, be aware of no-spearing zones and always check with your local law enforcement agency before planning your spearfishing trips. Visit MyFWC.com/Lionfish to learn more or to participate in the Lionfish Challenge reward program.

Safety first. Divers, even those who wade in, should stay within 300 feet of a properly displayed divers-down warning device (red with a white diagonal stripe on a flag or buoy, for example) when in open water and within 100 feet of a properly displayed divers-down warning device if on a river, inlet or navigation channel. Boat operators must slow to idle speed if they need to travel within 300 feet of a divers-down warning device in open water or 100 feet of one on a river, inlet or navigational channel.

Divers-down warning symbols displayed on vessels must be at least 20 inches by 24 inches. If you are using a flag, a stiffener is required to keep it unfurled and it must be displayed from the highest point of the vessel, must be visible from all directions and must be displayed only when divers are in the water. So when the divers are out of the water, don’t forget to take it down. Divers-down symbols towed by divers must be at least 12 inches by 12 inches. More information on divers-down warning devices is available online at MyFWC.com/Boating by clicking on “Boating Regulations.”

Additional information on recreational spiny lobster fishing, including how to measure spiny lobster, is available online at MyFWC.com/Fishing by clicking on “Saltwater Fishing,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Lobster.”

 

 

GET TEENS FISHING — WE’LL COVER THE COST 

 

Partnership focuses on increasing high school participation in fishing and conservation efforts by offering funds for fishing teams

By Amber Nabors

Participation in rough-and-tumble sports is a great way to get high schoolers exercising. But there are many students who want a different type of adrenaline rush than getting tackled on the football field or tossed in the air while cheering for their team. For those students, I strongly suggest fishing — and there is even funding available to get a team started or add members to an existing team.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), along with its partners the Fishing League Worldwide Foundation and The Bass Federation’s Student Angler Federation, are offering a grant from the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation to encourage the creation and success of high school fishing teams and clubs in Florida. This partnership places a particular emphasis on establishing new high school angling teams and supporting existing ones in schools with diverse student populations.

The program will provide grants of up to $500 to assist with expenses related to fishing team or club-sponsored tournaments, team jerseys, insurance, and education for novice anglers. Supported teams and clubs will also partner with the FWC, FLW Foundation and The Bass Federation to complete a conservation project. The program not only benefits the students, but program participants and their families will receive education on conservation programs, aquatic and marine biology, and boating and angler safety.

High school can be incredibly stressful, and getting on or near the water to cast a line is a great stress reliever. Fishing encourages focusing on just one task at a time, which can give the brain the break it needs to process and store helpful information. Fishing also promotes mindfulness, because being aware of how fish habitats and changing weather and water conditions affect fish behavior improves fishing success.

And fishing doesn’t exclude the ladies. According to a recent report released by the RBFF and the Outdoor Foundation, of the 46 million Americans who fish today, more than one-third of them are women. In fact, the 2013 Florida High School State Champions were a female and male team from Bartow High School, and Tennessee’s Bethel University became the first college to offer a female angler a scholarship in 2010.

High school fishing teams and clubs do not have to be comprised of students from a single school. Students from several schools may come together to form a team or club, and fishing is one of the few sports where both male and female students can compete on the same team, at the same level.

There are countless benefits for both male and female students competing in team sports, such as building confidence, teaching respect and contributing to better health and stronger academics. But there are added benefits for female teammates competing alongside their male counterparts, such as an enhanced image of themselves and a greater overall resiliency, according to Jeffrey Rhoades, author of “The Joy of Youth Sports: Creating the Best Youth Sports Experience for Your Child.” Plus, the team camaraderie offers benefits to both sexes, as they enhance their social skills and learn to view one another as a friend and not an intimidating person.

High schoolers can also earn college scholarships for bass fishing. According to Bassmaster.com , there are nine colleges in Florida that have fishing teams affiliated with the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series: Daytona State College, Florida Gulf Coast University, University of Florida, Florida State University, Indian River State College, Polk State College, Seminole State College of Florida, University of Central Florida and University of North Florida. The University of Florida even made the Fishing League Worldwide list of the “Top 25 Bass Fishing Colleges.”

To date, there have been five high school fishing grants awarded. The first five grant award recipients are: Academy of Environmental Science, Crystal River; Lake Wales High School, Lake Wales; Pasco Middle School, Dade City; South Dade High School, Homestead; and Space Coast Junior/Senior High School, Cocoa.

There is still ample grant funding available, so interested parties are encouraged to apply soon for consideration. Online applications should be submitted at www.flwfishing.com/foundation .

For more information about this program, email Amber Nabors at Amber.Nabors@MyFWC.com . For more information about the Fishing League Worldwide Foundation, go to www.flwfishing.com . For information about The Bass Federation’s Student Angler Federation, go to www.highschoolfishing.org . Information on the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation is available at www.takemefishing.org , select “Corporate” at the bottom of the page.

 

 

USCG Districts Seven & Eight - LNMs

The USCG District Seven Local Notice to Mariners http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/pdf/lnms/lnm07122016.pdf  (12-2016) is now available for download. This link must be cut and pasted into the web browser.

In addition, the 2016 USCG Light List Volume Three is updated weekly on the following page: http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/?pageName=lightListWeeklyUpdates  and is updated to Local Notice (12-2016), as is the summary of corrections http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/pdf/lightLists/corrections/V3D07.pdf . These links must be cut and pasted into the web browser.

The Local Notice to Mariners, Light List, and Summary of Corrections are posted weekly and require Adobe Acrobat Reader https://get.adobe.com/reader/ (free download) or another PDF Viewer. This link must be cut and pasted into the web browser.

If the link does not work directly from your email editor you should either copy and paste the entire link into your web browser or follow the LNM links from the Navigation Center home page http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/ . This link must be cut and pasted into the web browser.

In order to download the latest information more rapidly:

•Place your mouse over the “PDF” symbol next to the corresponding week.
•Right click for PC / Control click for Mac.
•Choose “Save Target As”.
•Save the PDF to your computer and open using Adobe Acrobat Reader.

If you have questions regarding this message, you may contact the Navigation Center http://navcen.uscg.gov/?pageName=contactUs  (use “LNMs, Charts, Chart Corrections, or Light Lists” as the subject from the pull down menu). This link must be cut and pasted into the web browser.

To unsubscribe http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/?pageName=listserverunsubscribe&srvr=LNMd7 .  This link must be cut and pasted into the web browser.

                        *** All links must be cut and pasted into the web browser.***

The USCG District Eight (Gulf) http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/pdf/lnms/lnm0812g2016.pdf  (12-2016) is now available for download. This link must be cut and pasted into the web browser.

In addition, the 2016 USCG Light List Volume Four is updated weekly on the following page: http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/?pageName=lightListWeeklyUpdates  and is updated to Local Notice (12-2016), as is the summary of corrections http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/pdf/lightLists/corrections/V4D08GM.pdf . These links must be cut and pasted into the web browser.

The Local Notice to Mariners, Light List, and Summary of Corrections are posted weekly and require Adobe Acrobat Reader https://get.adobe.com/reader/  (free download) or another PDF Viewer. This link must be cut and pasted into the web browser.

In order to download the latest information more rapidly:
•Place your mouse over the “PDF” symbol next to the corresponding week.
•Right click for PC / Control click for Mac.
•Choose “Save Target As”.
•Save the PDF to your computer and open using Adobe Acrobat Reader.

If you have questions regarding this message, you may contact the Navigation Center http://navcen.uscg.gov/?pageName=contactUs  (use “LNMs, Charts, Chart Corrections, or Light Lists” as the subject from the pull down menu). This link must be cut and pasted into the web browser.
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