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 MARCH from FWC

Photos available on FWC Flickr site: Go to http://flic.kr/s/aHsjyFwpBL.
Video available on FWC YouTube site: Go to http://youtu.be/5wJKeV7nHtg
 
‘LADIES, LET’S GO FISHING!’ WEEKEND OFFERS ANGLING FUN IN MATLACHA
 
Women are invited to explore the finest of fishing at the next “Ladies, Let’s Go Fishing!” seminar, March 8-9 at the Matlacha Community Center, 4577 Pine Island Road NW in Matlacha, which is near Fort Myers.

The event is held in conjunction with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) through the Sport Fish Restoration Program. “Ladies, Let’s Go Fishing!” is a national organization dedicated to attracting more women to sport fishing and to promoting conservation and responsible angling.

During the two-day, hands-on event, FWC educators will demonstrate ethical angler habits, such as safe hook removal, release techniques, fish venting and more. Local fishing guides will provide instruction on fishing techniques and methods.

Can’t make this one? Two more Ladies, Let’s Go Fishing! events are scheduled for this spring, including one in Dania Beach, April 11-13, and one in Stuart, May 16-18.

To learn more, visit ladiesletsgofishing.com call 954-475-9068 or email info@ladiesletsgofishing.com


SWORDFISH MANAGEMENT PAYS OFF IN EXPANDED FISHING OPPORTUNITIES EFFECTIVE AS OF FEB. 13
 

Swordfish management is a success story. Overfished in the 1980s and ’90s, the swordfish stock has since been fully rebuilt, thanks to domestic and international conservation measures.
Recently, NOAA Fisheries Highly Migratory Species Division created a new open-access commercial swordfish fishery in federal waters to provide additional commercial swordfish harvest opportunities using gears that minimize bycatch.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved several changes to state rules recently, many of which will allow fishermen who participate in this new commercial fishery to land and sell their catch in Florida. Recently adopted changes will go into effect Feb. 13.
Several changes to state rules are also consistent with existing federal rules, including a change to the cleithrum-to-keel (see image below) minimum size limit for recreational and commercial swordfish harvest.
Changes affecting commercial harvest include:
•Designating swordfish as a restricted species.
•Exempting commercial harvesters who possess a Swordfish General Commercial permit or a Highly Migratory Species Charter/Headboat permit (when not on a for-hire trip) from the recreational bag and vessel limits. Permit holders must abide by HMS regional vessel limits.
•Allowing the sale of commercially caught swordfish under these permits.
•Closing state waters to commercial harvest if adjacent federal waters are closed.
•Requiring wholesale dealers purchasing swordfish to possess a valid federal Atlantic Swordfish Dealer permit. This change affects wholesale dealers in both the Atlantic and Gulf.
•Allowing transit of swordfish through state waters when harvested in federal waters with gear that is legal to use in federal waters.
Changes that affect commercial and recreational harvest:
•Modifying the minimum cleithrum-to-keel (CK) limit from 29 to 25 inches for all harvesters. The cleithrum is the bony area right behind the gill slit, and the keel is the horizontal ridge right before the tail fin (see photo). There is no change to the lower jaw fork length measurement also used when measuring swordfish.

swordfish


•Restricting gear to hook and line in state waters.
•Clarifying federal rule references.
Learn more about swordfish and other highly migratory species by visiting MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Highly Migratory Species.”

REPEATING IN MARCH

REMINDER:
GULF GROUPER RECREATIONAL SEASON DID 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.”

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

vent

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 reopened 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.”


GULF REEF FISH WORKSHOPS SCHEDULED FOR MARCH
 
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is hosting several public workshops in early March to gather public input on a proposal that would improve recreational reef fish data collection.
The proposal would create a mandatory permit or registry system for Gulf of Mexico recreational anglers who target reef fish like red snapper, grouper, amberjack and gray triggerfish. This system will help researchers better define the number of offshore anglers and help them contact these anglers to gather additional data. Get your voice heard on this important topic by attending an in-person workshop or a phone conference.

The workshops are scheduled for the following locations and times:
•Monday, March 3: Fort Myers (6-8 p.m. EST), Bass Pro Shops, 1004 Gulf Center Dr.
•Tuesday, March 4: St. Petersburg (6-8 p.m. EST), Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, 100 Eighth Ave. SE
•Wednesday, March 5: Perry (6-8 p.m. EST), Perry City Council, 224 S. Jefferson St.
•Thursday, March 6: Destin (6-8 p.m. CST), Destin Community Center, 101 Stahlman Ave.
•Tuesday, March 11: Phone Conference (6-8 p.m. EDT), RSVP to the Division of Marine Fisheries Management at 850-487-0554 to obtain instructions to join the meeting.
•Wednesday, March 12: Pensacola (6-8 p.m. CDT), Escambia County Extension Office Auditorium, 3740 Stefani Rd.
For more information visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater,” “Rulemaking” and “Public Workshops” or call 850-487-0554.


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.


BRIDGE INFORMATION NEW for MARCH per CAPTAIN JOHN YEAGER

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 December 30, 2014, the Main Street Bridge will open with a two hour advance notice between 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.

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.
Chart: 11491

FLORIDA – ATLANTIC INTRACOASTAL WATERWAY – WEST PALM BEACH TO MIAMI – NEW RIVER (SOUTH FORK) – I-95 BRIDGE: Bridge Repairs/Vertical Clearance Reduction.

Seminole Equipment is working on the I-95 Bridge across the South Fork of the New River, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Due to painting operations the vertical clearance will be reduced by 5 feet from January 7, 2014 through April 2014. The containment system can be retracted by two feet if 24 hours notice is provided to the contractor.
Ref: LNM 52-13 through 04-14 Chart: 11467


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 was scheduled to begin on February 14, 2014 on the north side of the channel with completion scheduled for June 3, 2014. The pile driving operation on the south side is scheduled to begin in August 2014.
The horizontal clearance of the CSX Railroad Bascule Bridge across the New River (South Fork) mile 2.8, Fort Lauderdale, Broward County, Florida has been temporarily reduced to 56 feet.
Ref: LNM 16-08 through 04-14 CG File: 2500FLORIDA

OKEECHOBEE WATERWAY – (SOUTH FORK) ST LUCIE CANAL – INDIAN STREET BRIDGE: Bridge Construction.

The contractor constructing the Indian Street Bridge has completed placing the new beams across the south fork of the St. Lucie Canal, Stuart, Florida. This work is expected to be completed by April 2014

With the new beams in place the vertical clearance is 55 feet at mean high water.
Mariners are reminded to remain vigilant when passing thought this area as several pieces of floating equipment will be in the vicinity of the main navigational channel until this project is completed.
Ref: LNM 18-11 through 04-14 Chart: 11428
 

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March 2014 Section A

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