May 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:
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
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
Information from FWC

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.

Late April Notice from COE


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (April 19, 2013) – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District has issued a public notice in connection with the city of St. Petersburg’s application for a Department of the Army permit to demolish the existing St. Petersburg Municipal Pier and construct a new pier in St. Petersburg, Pinellas County, Fla. Comments are being accepted through Friday, May 3, 2013.

The applicant is seeking authorization to demolish the existing 230,000-square-foot St. Petersburg Municipal Pier and construct a new 121,700-square-foot pier. The old pier deck would be transported to an upland landfill or to the Albert Whitted Airport to construct a shoreline stabilization revetment. The new pier and promontory would be partially covered by an aluminum-faced canopy, and the canopy support structure would include an elevator and stair enclosure to allow access to observation decks and walkways. The new pier would also include enclosed space for food service counters, marina operations, restrooms and elevators. The proposed project includes a 24 slip day-use marina for boats ranging from 25 to 40 feet long, and would provide opportunities for rental of non-motorized watercraft. A proposed habitat enhancement area would be located within the loop of the pier walkways.

The applicant states that the new pier footprint and design features will result in a net environmental benefit. The number of piles required to support the proposed new pier would be reduced by 825 from the existing pier, and the proposed new structure would reduce shading impacts by approximately 47 percent. Turbidity barriers would be deployed during demolition and construction, and construction barges would be prohibited from working or anchoring within 20 feet of the seagrass beds. Best management practices and a detailed stormwater management plan would be used during construction to minimize impacts to water quality.

The project site is located within waters possibly inhabited by the endangered West Indian (Florida) Manatee as well as sea turtles and smalltooth sawfish. The Corps has determined that the proposed project “may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect” any of these species; however, in accordance with the Endangered Species Act, the Corps will request concurrence with this determination from the National Marine Fisheries Service. Further, construction of the walkways for the new pier structure is anticipated to impact approximately 0.03 acres of seagrass habitat. The Corps’ initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on essential fish habitat. In accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the Corps will also request concurrence with this determination from the National Marine Fisheries Service.

Comments regarding the potential authorization of the proposed work should be submitted in writing by Friday, May 3, 2013 to: District Engineer, Tampa Permits Section, 10117 Princes Palm Avenue, Suite 120, Tampa, Fla. 33610-8302, by email to or by fax to 813-769-7061. The public notice and supporting documents are available for review at Once on the website, click on Missions, then Regulatory, then Items of Interest. A copy of the public notice may also be obtained by request to the above mail or email addresses.

The decision whether to issue or deny this permit will be based on the evaluation of the probable impact to the associated wetlands and on the information received through this public notice. The Corps’ decision is pursuant to Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, which authorized the Corps to regulate dredge and fill activities in waters of the United States, including some wetlands and Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899, which authorized the Corps to protect and maintain the nation’s navigable waterways.

Release no. 13-018

May Notices from FWC


The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved a 44-day recreational red snapper season for Gulf of Mexico state waters at its meeting April 17 in Tallahassee. State waters are from shore to 9 nautical miles in Gulf waters.

This season will start June 1 and end July 14. It is inconsistent with the current proposed federal season.

Federal fishery managers recently passed a rule that grants NOAA Fisheries the authority to shorten the federal recreational red snapper season off states that adopt inconsistent red snapper regulations. The current estimate of the recreational red snapper season is 21 days in federal waters off the Gulf coast of Florida.

While the federal limit for how many pounds of red snapper can be caught has increased, the season length has gotten shorter over the past few years because of more fishing effort and larger fish, according to federal fishery managers.

The Commission's choice is based on reports that the upcoming federal stock assessment would likely show red snapper populations are doing better than previously thought and reports from anglers that the fishery is improving.

For more on the proposal that was given to the Commission, visit


Anglers targeting grouper in Florida state waters of the Atlantic, including Monroe County, will be able to take some of their catch home starting May 1, when the season reopens to harvest. Species included in the recreational and commercial opening are gag, black, red, yellowmouth, yellowfin and tiger grouper; scamp; red hind; rock hind; coney; and graysby. State waters in the Atlantic are from shore to 3 miles out.

The harvest of these species of grouper will remain open until Jan. 1, 2014. The harvest closure was put in place to ensure the long-term sustainability of Atlantic grouper species.

Recreational anglers targeting these species may not take more than three grouper per person per day. Within this three-fish limit, anglers may possess only one gag or black grouper (not both). The captain and crew of for-hire vessels are not allowed to keep any grouper.

Dehooking tools must be aboard commercial and recreational vessels for use as needed to remove hooks from Atlantic reef fish.

More information about grouper bag and size limits, gear restrictions and fishing seasons, including Gulf of Mexico grouper regulations is available online at, select “Saltwater Fishing” then “Recreational Regulations” and “Groupers.”


The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) at its April meeting discussed waiving the commercial and recreational bag limit and  recreational license requirement for divers harvesting lionfish using certain gear.

In August 2012, the FWC put a temporary rule in place that waived the recreational fishing license requirement when targeting lionfish with a hand-held net, pole spear, Hawaiian sling or any other spearing device designed and marketed exclusively for lionfish. This temporary rule change also removed any bag limits when recreationally or commercially harvesting lionfish. Prior to the change, recreational anglers could not catch more than 100 pounds of lionfish without being required to have a commercial license.

The temporary rule change expires Aug. 3.

The Commissioners will finalize the license waiver and the bag limit removal at their June meeting in Lakeland.

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 prČoposal presented to Commissioners, visit and click on “Commission Meetings.”

From April “Gone Coastal” column
By Alan Peirce


The Mexico Beach Artificial Reef Association - one of the most active nonprofit artificial reef organizations in the state - on behalf of the city of Mexico Beach, just completed the oversight and management of a significant expansion to several existing artificial reef sites off Bay County. The old phrase “if you build it, they will come” could not be more applicable, and the cities of Mexico Beach, Port St. Joe, recreational anglers, charter captains and local businesses will be the ultimate beneficiaries.
In April, 62 individual reef structures, each weighing more than 3,500 pounds, were added at 19 locations. In a grant to the city to support the project, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) provided $60,000 in federal aid from Sport Fish Restoration Act funds. That grant was matched by $31,600 from Mexico Beach Artificial Reef Association. The deployment locations are in state and federal waters, 2.3 to 16.8 nautical miles from the Mexico Beach Channel entrance, ranging in depth from 22 feet in the Bell Shoals Area to 101 feet in the North Site Area.
Fishers have long understood the value of constructing artificial reefs, and over the past 30 to 40 years a great deal has been learned through trial and error.
In the early days, reef materials included just about anything that was heavy enough to sink but there were problems as they were not stable, durable or environmentally friendly. Many were not heavy enough to stay in place or were not structurally sufficient to withstand ocean currents and saltwater corrosion for lengthy periods of time.
Today’s reefs, including those deployed recently off Mexico Beach, are constructed of concrete, limestone and heavy-gauge steel, all of which will stay in place and provide excellent marine habitat for decades to come.
Similarly, a great deal has been learned about selecting appropriate sites for artificial reefs. Permits for reef areas issued by the Florida DEP and the U.S. Army COE to local coastal governments in both state and federal waters require bottom surveys to verify that the areas are free of natural reefs, seagrass habitat, shellfish beds and archaeological resources. This prevents artificial reef damage to existing valuable natural habitats.
Taking care to choose the best location also avoids interfering with other uses of the sea floor such as navigational channels, military operational areas, sand borrow areas, traditional shrimp trawling grounds, and underwater pipeline and cable corridors.
Artificial reefs will never be a replacement for sound fisheries management and regulations to prevent overfishing. They do play an important role as attractive fishing and diving destinations, which means more hotel night stays, more restaurant meals served, and more demand for boats, tackle and fuel. All are great things for a small town like Mexico Beach that relies on visitors who travel to the area to enjoy beautiful beaches and great saltwater fishing.
Please visit the Mexico Beach Artificial Reef Association website at for new reef coordinates, membership information, upcoming events and fishing tournaments.
Gone Coastal is one of many ways that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s 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 be happy  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

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.

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