November 2015 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
In our phone call to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Lake Okeechobee Clewiston office, we've been assured that the locks are back to normal operations, thanks to recent rainfall. http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Missions/CivilWorks/Navigation/NoticestoNavigation.aspx
REPEATING IN NOVEMBER
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.
RED TIDE CONFIRMED IN FLORIDA: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
For immediate release: October 30, 2015
Contact: Kelly Richmond, FWC 727-502-4784
Suggested Tweet: The Florida red tide is naturally occurring and other facts you should know: http://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/FLFFWCC/bulletins/1227789 #Redtide #FWCresearch #Florida
Red tide is a naturally occurring, higher-than-normal concentration of microscopic algae. In Florida, the species that causes most red tides is Karenia brevis. This organism produces toxins that can affect the central nervous system of aquatic organisms such as fish and marine mammals. Red tide toxins also pose a human health risk. The toxins can aerosolize and be carried to beaches with onshore winds, leading to respiratory irritation in people. Toxins can accumulate in shellfish and result in illnesses if contaminated shellfish are consumed. Shellfish harvesting areas are closed when blooms are present.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) researchers are currently monitoring two blooms along Florida’s Gulf coast, one located in northwest Florida and the other in southwest Florida.
“We confirmed the presence of both blooms in September, and they have persisted since that time,” said Alina Corcoran, FWC research scientist. “The bloom in the Panhandle is currently affecting Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Bay and Gulf counties. In southwest Florida, patchy blooms have been confirmed along Pinellas, Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte and Lee counties. Extensive fish kills and respiratory irritation have been associated with the bloom in the Panhandle but in southwest Florida the effects have been less.”
Red tide public health tips:
•People in a red tide area can experience varying degrees of eye, nose and throat irritation. When a person leaves an area with a red tide, symptoms usually go away.
•People with severe or chronic respiratory conditions such as asthma or chronic lung disease are cautioned to avoid areas with active red tides.
•In some red tides, dead fish wash ashore; during these conditions it is advised that beachgoers avoid swimming in water where dead fish are present.
•Pet owners are advised that red tide poses a risk to animals brought to the beach. If a pet swims in a red tide patch at the beach, rinse off its fur and paws as soon as possible with fresh water. Also, do not let pets eat fish or drink water from the red tide.
•Recreational harvesting of bivalve mollusks such as hard clams, oysters and mussels from approved shellfish harvesting areas is banned during red tide closures. To determine whether harvesting of shellfish is permitted in an area, visit the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Aquaculture website.
FWC researchers work closely with partners, including Mote Marine Laboratory, the University of South Florida, Department of Health, Department of Agriculture and NOAA, to track blooms, share information and develop products that help to inform both citizens and scientists about bloom conditions.
“Citizen scientists play a vital role in tracking blooms. Volunteers can provide the majority of water samples for bloom tracking in regions like the Panhandle,” said Corcoran.
For updated red tide status reports, to track blooms or learn more about red tide, visit MyFWC.com/RedTide . To report fish kills to the FWC, contact the Fish Kill Hotline at 800-636-0511 or submit a report online .
Additional red tide resources:
•Mote Marine Laboratory Beach Condition Reporting System at Mote.org/Beaches
ATTENTION GULF RED SNAPPER ANGLERS:
NEW Received October 16, 2015
Big changes to Gulf recreational red snapper management could be coming – here’s your chance to weigh in and make sure your voice is heard. The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) is holding public hearings on a proposal known as regional management that could give states a larger role in red snapper management in federal waters. See meeting dates and times below.
Currently, the Council is responsible for management of the recreational red snapper fishery in all Gulf of Mexico federal waters. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) manages state waters off Florida. If the Council approves regional management, the federal recreational red snapper quota would be divided state-by-state or at a regional level, and states would set recreational seasons and bag limits in both state and federal waters off their coast.
Regional management could allow for recreational red snapper regulations in federal waters to be tailored to more local needs. However, there are possible trade-offs, such as potentially fewer fishing days for Florida red snapper anglers.
Two meetings will be held in Florida on regional management during October. Council and FWC staff will be on hand at these meetings to discuss proposal details and what it might mean for Florida anglers. If you cannot attend an in-person meeting, there will also be a webinar.
The FWC Commission will discuss regional management and review input from the public hearings at its Nov. 18-19 meeting in Panama City. This input will help the FWC Commission decide how the FWC representative on the Council should vote on the Council’s regional management proposal.
The Council is expected to make a final decision on regional management at its Jan. 25-29 meeting in Orange Beach, AL.
Meeting dates and locations:
All in-person meetings begin at 6 p.m. local time and end no later than 9 p.m. local time. The webinar begins at 6 p.m. Eastern Time.
Thurs, October 22, 2015
Tues, October 27, 2015
Wed, October 28, 2015
Public Hearing Guides with details about the Council’s regional management proposal will be posted on the Council website at http://gulfcouncil.org/fishery_management_plans/scoping-thru-implementation.php .
STONE CRAB SEASON OPENED OCT. 15 IN STATE, FEDERAL WATERS
Florida’s recreational and commercial stone crab claw harvest season opened Oct. 15 in state and federal waters. To ensure this valuable resource is available for generations to come, take care when removing crab claws, and follow all protective management guidelines for stone crab harvest.
To be harvested, stone crab claws must be at least 2¾ inches in length when measured from the elbow to the tip of the lower immovable portion of the claw (see illustration). View a video on how to properly remove the claw, and increase the likelihood of survival of the released crab.
Claws may not be taken from egg-bearing stone crabs. Egg-bearing females are identifiable by the orange or brown egg mass, also known as a “sponge,” which is visible on the underside of the crab when it is picked up or turned over.
Recreational harvesters can use up to five stone crab traps per person. Stone crabs may not be harvested with any device that can puncture, crush or injure a crab’s body. Examples of devices that can cause this kind of damage include spears and hooks. Recreational and commercial traps may be baited and placed in the water 10 days prior to the opening of the season but may not be pulled from the water for harvest purposes until Oct. 15. Traps that are not being fished should be removed from the water to avoid ghost fishing, a process in which marine species get caught in the trap for extended periods of time and are not harvested.
Stone crab trap specifications recently changed in Collier, Monroe and Miami-Dade counties. Effective as of Oct. 5, the use of round entrances (also known as throats or funnels) will no longer be allowed for stone crab traps used in state or federal waters off Collier, Monroe and Miami-Dade counties. The changes will also require that the rectangular or rounded rectangular entrances typically used in stone crab traps be no larger than 5½ by 3 1/8 inches at the most narrow portion of the opening. Stone crab traps being used in other areas of the state may have an entrance that is 5 ½ by 3 ½ inches.
Harvesters are encouraged to take only one claw, even if both claws are of legal size, so that the released crab will be better able to defend itself from predators. A crab that is returned to the water with one claw intact will be able to obtain more food in a shorter amount of time and therefore regrow its claw faster. There is a recreational daily bag limit of 1 gallon of claws per person or 2 gallons per vessel, whichever is less.
The season will be open through May 15, 2016, closing May 16.
Stone crab regulations are the same in state and federal waters.
For more information on harvesting stone crabs for recreation, as well as commercial stone crab regulations and licensing information, go online to MyFWC.com/Fishing (click on “Saltwater”).
FROM CAPT. JOHN YEAGER
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON HILLSBORO INLET BRIDGE REPAIRS
PARTIALLY REPEATING IN NOVEMBER from MARCH UPDATE.
FLORIDA – EAST COAST - HILLSBORO INLET: Bridge Repairs. PCL Civil Constructors, Inc. has advised the Coast Guard that they will start work on the repairs to the Hillsboro Inlet Bridge on January 5, 2015. This project is anticipated to be completed by November 14, 2015. There will be various bridge restrictions and closures throughout this project. The contractor will be working closely with the marine interests to ensure impacts to navigation will be at a minimum.
Mariners may request an opening during these time periods by providing a four-hour advance notice to the bridge tender or by calling (954) 943-1847. The vertical clearance will be reduced by 2 feet during the entire project length. The north and south side channels will be closed to navigation during this entire time frame as there will be turbidity barriers in place and a small barge will be behind the fender system. The Florida Department of Transportation will be issuing a separate press release on this restriction. Ref: LNM 07-14 through 20-15 CG File: 3014 Chart 11.
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 with updates.
The following information provided by our editors is again included in the Gold Coast Cruising section of the 15/16 print edition:
REPEATING IN NOVEMBER with update
FLORIDA – ATLANTIC INTRACOASTAL WATERWAY – PALM SHORES TO WEST PALM BEACH – FLAGLER MEMORIAL/ROYAL PARK/SOUTHERN BOULEVARD BRIDGES: Bridge Construction/Waterway Restriction/Temporary Bridge Regulation Changes/Update.
Mariners are reminded that the horizontal clearance at the Flagler Memorial Bridge is currently set at 70 feet and will remain until the new bridge is built and this bridge is removed.
The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway channel south of the Flagler Memorial Bridge will be closed to navigation from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. nightly from October 19 through November 4, 2015 for installation of the new submarine cable. Half of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway channel south of the Flagler Memorial Bridge will be closed to navigation from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. nightly from November 5 through November 25, 2015 for this installation of the new fender system. The contractor has advised the Coast Guard that due to construction of the new Flagler Memorial Bridge (placement of the new bascule leafs), the waterway may need to remain closed for up to eight hours on four different occasions in the November/December timeframe. The exact dates will be provided in a future Local Notice to Mariners. Ref: LNM 45-12 through 41-15 Chart: 11472.
PALM BEACH AREA BRIDGES
Usual opening schedules are listed on Chart 8, however, delayed construction on Flagler Bridge may cause further changes and once-an-hour openings are likely. Contact bridges on CH 9.
FLORIDA – ATLANTIC INTRACOASTAL WATERWAY – WEST PALM BEACH TO MIAMI – NEW RIVER SOUTH FORK–CSX RAILROAD BRIDGE.
The Coast Guard has approved a 96 hour waterway closure at the CSX Railroad Bridge location starting at 5:00 a.m. on November 5, 2015. The contractor is anticipating nighttime closures from 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. starting on or about November 30, 2015 and is expected to last for a two week period. Ref: LNM 16-08 through 41-15 CG File: 2500 Chart: 11467.
REPEATING IN NOVEMBER
FLORIDA – ATLANTIC INTRACOASTAL WATERWAY – WEST PALM BEACH TO MIAMI – MIAMI – BROAD CAUSEWAY BRIDGE: Bridge Discrepancy
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
CHANGED FOR NOVEMBER
FLORIDA – MIAMI ENTRANCE CHANNEL – MIAMI BEACH CHANNEL – EAST VENETIAN BRIDGE:
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.
CHANGED FOR NOVEMBER
FLORIDA – MIAMI TO MARATHON AND FLORIDA BAY – HAWK CHANNEL – SNAKE CREEK BRIDGE: Test Deviation.
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.
FLORIDA - WEST COAST - LONGBOAT PASS: Bridge Update
Longboat Pass Bridge across Longboat Pass, Longboat, Manatee County Florida has been repaired and is fully operational. Both the Longboat Pass and New Pass Bridges have returned to their normal operating schedules. Ref: LNM 44-14 through 41-15 Chart: 11425.