July 2013 Section A

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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 FWC

Notes on Fishing Rules and other announcements

Changes to how Gulf of Mexico gray triggerfish are managed in state and federal waters went into effect June 10. These changes include a recreational and commercial season closure and the implementation of recreational and commercial bag limits.
Earlier this year, state and federal fishery managers approved a recreational and commercial season closure for June 1 through July 31. Because this season closure does not go into effect until June 10, for 2013 only, the closure will start June 10 and run through July 31, with harvest reopening Aug. 1 in state waters. In future years, the closure will start June 1 and run through July 31.
A two-fish recreational bag limit and a 12-fish commercial bag limit also will go into effect on June 10.
Gray triggerfish have a unique spawning behavior that makes them vulnerable during the peak spawning season, usually between June and July. Male triggerfish coax females to nesting areas, where they all care for and guard their eggs after spawning. Closing gray triggerfish during their peak spawning time and implementing a recreational bag limit and a commercial trip limit should help rebuild the species’ numbers.
More than 60 percent of gray triggerfish caught in the Gulf of Mexico come from state and federal waters off Florida, which makes the state’s management of the species integral to the success of the federal rebuilding plan.
Changes to recreational harvest in state waters, including the June 1 through July 31 season closure and the two-fish bag limit, were approved at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) February meeting in Orlando, making state regulations consistent with federal recreational regulations.
Federal fishery managers approved changes to the commercial harvest of Gulf gray triggerfish, including the 12-fish trip limit and the June 1 through July 31 commercial harvest closure. The FWC requires fishers harvesting gray triggerfish commercially in Gulf state waters to have a federal reef fish permit. One condition of the federal reef fish permit is that harvesters must follow federal reef fish rules, even when they are fishing in state waters. This means that commercial harvesters in state waters must abide by the new federal commercial trip limit and closed season.
Learn more about Florida’s recreational gray triggerfish management in state waters by visiting MyFWC.com/Fishing and clicking on “Saltwater,” “Recreational Regulations” and then “Triggerfish.”

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

bay scallop pic

It’s that time of year again to unfurl the dive flag, put a mask on and head to the coast to collect some bay scallops. The recreational season is open in Gulf of Mexico state waters (shore to 9 nautical miles) from the Pasco-Hernando county line to the west bank of the Mexico Beach Canal in Bay County starting July 1. The season will remain open through Sept. 24, with the first day of the closure on Sept. 25.
The bag limit is two gallons of whole bay scallops or one pint of meat per person, per day, with a vessel limit of 10 gallons of whole bay scallops or a half-gallon of meat. Scallops may be collected by hand or with a landing or dip net.
Scallops cannot be taken ashore outside of the open area.
There is no commercial harvest for bay scallops in Florida state and federal waters.
The average number of scallops observed during pre-season surveys doubled in Homosassa and St. Joseph Bay and increased slightly in Steinhatchee. The St. Marks average decreased substantially from June 2012, which was most likely due to effects from Tropical Storm Debby.
            Be safe when diving for scallops. Be sure to stay within 300 feet of a properly displayed divers-down flag when scalloping in open water and within 100 feet of a properly displayed divers-down flag if on a river, inlet or navigation channel. Boat operators traveling within 300 feet of a divers-down flag in open water or 100 feet of one on a river, inlet or navigational channel must slow to idle speed. 
Done for the day? Help FWC’s scallop researchers by completing an online survey at http://svy.mk/bayscallops. Harvesters can indicate where they harvest scallops, how many they collect and how long it takes to harvest them. Participants can email BayScallops@MyFWC.com to ask questions or send additional information.
Learn more by visiting MyFWC.com/Fishing and clicking on “Saltwater,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Bay Scallops.”


Gag grouper will open for recreational harvest in most Gulf of Mexico state waters and all Gulf federal waters July 1. The same day, the season will close in state waters off the coast of Franklin, Wakulla, Jefferson and Taylor counties.
The gag grouper recreational harvest season in Gulf of Mexico state and federal waters, not including Franklin, Jefferson, Wakulla, Taylor and Monroe counties, will remain open through Dec. 3. State waters off Franklin, Wakulla, Jefferson and Taylor counties were open from April 1 through June 30 and will not be open during the July 1-through-Dec. 3 season. Monroe County is also excluded from the July 1-through-Dec. 3 season because it is included in the Atlantic rules for gag grouper.
Gag grouper caught in federal waters during the July 1-through-Dec. 3 season may be taken ashore in Franklin, Wakulla, Jefferson and Taylor counties, but boats with gag grouper aboard may not stop and must have gear stowed while traveling through state waters in that region. (See maps.)
The four-county region includes all waters of Apalachicola Bay and Indian Pass, including those in Gulf County, and all waters of the Steinhatchee River, including those in Dixie County. The FWC manages marine fish from the shore to 9 nautical miles in the Gulf of Mexico.
The FWC is working with Florida’s anglers to rebuild gag grouper populations in the Gulf of Mexico back to strong, sustainable levels. 
The gag grouper recreational harvest minimum size and bag limits are 22 inches total length and two gag grouper per person.
To learn more, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Gulf Grouper.”


The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), in conjunction with the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council and the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Councils), will host five workshops to gather public input on south Florida marine fisheries regulations and issues.
In 2011, an Ad Hoc Joint Committee composed of the two Councils and the FWC was formed to identify issues in south Florida and create joint management solutions. South Florida waters are managed by the FWC and the Councils. The area is also home to several species that are unique to the region. These workshops are a beginning step into examining issues that are particular to south Florida.
For example, the yellowtail snapper fishery is almost exclusively in south Florida, yet because it is managed by three different entities, its season may close to harvest in one area of south Florida, such as federal waters of the Atlantic, while remaining open in other areas, such as state waters or federal waters of the Gulf. The committee would like public input on managing yellowtail snapper on a regional basis and as a whole population instead of by state waters and Gulf and Atlantic federal waters. A similar discussion will also focus on mutton snapper.
All meetings are from 5 to 8 p.m. EDT and are as follows:
•July 29: Dania Beach, International Game Fish Association Fishing Hall of Fame and Museum, 300 Gulf Stream Way;
•July 30: Key Largo, Murray E. Nelson Government and Cultural Center, 102050 Overseas Highway, Mile Marker 102;
•July 31: Key Colony Beach, City Hall, Auditorium, 600 W. Ocean Drive, Mile Marker 53.5;
•Aug. 1: Key West, Harvey Government Center, 1200 Truman Ave., 2nd floor;
•Aug. 5: Marco Island, Marriott Beach Resort, 400 S. Collier Blvd.
For questions or comments, please contact the FWC Division of Marine Fisheries Management at 850-487-0554 or Marine@MyFWC.com.


Temporary changes making it easier for divers to help control the lionfish population will be put into Florida rule soon.
At its June 12 meeting in Lakeland, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) adopted changes that will waive the recreational license requirement for divers harvesting lionfish using certain gear and exclude lionfish from the commercial and recreational bag limits, allowing people to take as many of the invasive fish as they can.
Prior to the change, recreational anglers could not catch more than 100 pounds of lionfish without being required to have a commercial license.
Specific gear that can be used to target lionfish without the requirement of a recreational license includes hand-held nets, pole spears, Hawaiian slings or any other spearing devices designed and marketed exclusively for lionfish.
An identical executive order was put into place in August 2012 and is set to expire Aug. 3. The newly adopted rule will take effect before the executive order expires, so there will be no lapse in the expanded permissions.
Lionfish are a nonnative, invasive species that negatively impact Florida’s native saltwater fish and wildlife. Currently, the most effective method of removing lionfish from Florida waters is by spearing or using a hand-held net. Removing the license requirements and bag limits will increase lionfish harvest opportunities.
For more on the pr¬oposal presented to Commissioners, visit MyFWC.com/Commission and click on “Commission Meetings.

News from USCG

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.



Learn more about recreational fishing at MyFWC.com/Fishing by clicking on “Saltwater” and “Recreational Regulations.”

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