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.

Visit MyFWC.com/Fishing to learn more.

GOV. SCOTT & FWC ADD FOUR MORE LICENSE-FREE FISHING DAYS TO THE CALENDAR
THREE OF THEM YET TO COME


As announced in September, Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission announced four additional license-free fishing days.     
 
Governor Scott said, “Florida’s license-free fishing days are the perfect opportunity for people to try, or introduce a friend to, some of the finest fishing in the world. Florida's recreational freshwater and saltwater fishing industry has an $8.9 billion economic impact and events like these help grow the industry even more. I'm excited that the FWC has adopted four more license-free fishing days for a total of eight days per year. These days are a great way to introduce more Floridians to the lifetime sport of fishing.”
 
Florida currently offers the public four license-free fishing days per year, where the requirement to have a recreational fishing license is waived for residents and visitors. Saltwater license-free fishing days this year were on June 1 and Sept. 1 and freshwater’s were April 6 and June 8.
 
During its September meeting last year, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) added four more license-free fishing days to the calendar, and the Florida Legislature approved this increase earlier this year.
 
The additional saltwater license-free fishing days will be Oct. 12 and Nov. 30 and additional freshwater license-free days will be Nov. 29 and Dec. 28. 
 
The Commission also set dates for 2014 and beyond. All eight days will now fall on the same day of the week from year to year, allowing potential anglers to plan fishing trips in advance.
 
For 2014 and beyond, the following dates will be license-free fishing days:

Saltwater
oFirst Saturday and Sunday in June
oFirst Saturday in September
oSaturday following Thanksgiving

Freshwater
oFirst Saturday and Sunday in April
oSecond Saturday and Sunday in June
 
To make these events accessible to as many people as possible, the FWC planned these dates around holiday weekends and national events and National Fishing and Boating Week. Highlighted by significant national media coverage and public events, National Fishing and Boating Week promotes boating and fishing across the country as fun and healthy outdoor activities.
 
Plan your fishing experience today, but don’t forget, all other regulations such as seasons, size limits and bag limits still apply on these days. Visit MyFWC.com/Fishing to learn more about saltwater and freshwater fishing in Florida.

FFWBanner

For immediate release: October 29, 2013

TARPON STATEWIDE SNAGGING DEFINITION, GEAR RULES IN BOCA GRANDE PASS CHANGES EFFECTIVE NOV. 1
Changes that will add language to the current statewide snagging definition for tarpon and modify what types of gear can be used when fishing in Boca Grande Pass will go into effect Nov. 1.
These changes will provide further protection for this iconic fish.
The first part of the adopted changes includes adding language to the snagging definition to prohibit catching or attempting to catch tarpon that have not been attracted or enticed to strike an angler’s gear. This change will apply to tarpon fishing statewide. The current definition for snagging or snatch-hooking is the intentional catch of a fish by any device intended to impale or hook the fish by any part of its body other than the mouth. Adding language specifying that gear must entice the fish to strike with, and become hooked in, its mouth will help further protect tarpon from the act of snagging.
The second part of the changes prohibits fishing with gear that has a weight attached to a hook, artificial fly or lure in such a way that the weight hangs lower than the hook when the line or leader is suspended vertically from the rod (see photo below). This change will apply to fishing for all species year-round within Boca Grande Pass.

REMINDER: ATLANTIC VERMILION SNAPPER SEASON WILL REMAIN OPEN THIS FALL
 
Atlantic vermilion snapper will remain open to recreational harvest this fall in both state and federal waters now that the season closure has been eliminated. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission eliminated the annual Nov. 1 through March 31 closure at the September Commission meeting. The Nov. 1 through March 31 closure in federal waters was eliminated earlier this year.
Vermilion snapper populations have improved thanks to successful state and federal fishery management. In 2008, the Atlantic vermilion snapper population was considered to be undergoing overfishing, which means more fish were being removed from the population than was considered sustainable. At the time, state and federal fishery managers implemented several management changes, including bag limit reductions and the five-month season closure for the recreational fishery. A 2012 stock assessment revealed these management actions were successful in rebuilding vermillion snapper numbers. Removing the closure will positively benefit recreational anglers by providing additional fishing opportunities.

Learn more about Atlantic vermilion snapper by visiting MyFWC.com/Fishing and clicking on “Saltwater,” “Recreational Regulations” and then “Atlantic Snapper.”

hook-no

If this prohibited gear is on board a fishing vessel while inside the boundaries of the pass, it cannot be attached to any rod, line or leader and must be stowed. This change will further reduce the likelihood that tarpon in Boca Grande Pass will be snagged.
These changes will provide further protection for tarpon.

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

STONE CRAB SEASON OPENED OCT. 15 IN STATE, FEDERAL WATERS; RUNS THROUGH MAY 15.
per FWC Release, October 7

Florida’s recreational and commercial stone crab claw harvest season opens 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 regulations for stone crab harvest.
To be harvested, stone crab claws must be at least 2 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 in order to increase the likelihood of survival of the crab once 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 the crab 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.
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 also be able to obtain more food in a shorter amount of time and therefore regrow its other claw faster. There is a recreational daily bag limit of one gallon of claws per person or two gallons per vessel, whichever is less.
The season will be open through May 15, 2014, 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”).


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.
Capt. John Yeager has received the following notices about happenings with Jacksonville and West Palm Bridges ... As of NOW ...

REPEATING IN NOVEMBER - FLORIDA – ST. JOHNS RIVER – FEC RAILROAD BRIDGE - JACKSONVILLE: Closed Clearance is 5'.

Special Operating Schedule.
Due to a mechanical failure, the FEC Railroad Bridge across the St Johns River, Jacksonville, Florida has been placed on a limited opening schedule. This bridge will remain open to navigation from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. and from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, and from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., and from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, at all other times the bridge will be closed to navigation. The bridge owner is in the process of manufacturing a part in order to replace the broken bearing. If the bearing fails before the new part can be delivered, the bridge will need to be operated manually with additional restrictions implemented.

REPEATING IN NOVEMBER -
FLORIDA – ATLANTIC INTRACOASTAL WATERWAY – PALM SHORES TO WEST PALM BEACH – FLAGLER MEMORIAL BRIDGE: BRIDGE CONSTRUCTION/WATERWAY

Restriction/Temporary Bridge Regulation Changes/Update.
The Florida Department of Transportation contractor Archer Western has been authorized to limit the horizontal navigational clearance to 25 feet at night and 70 feet during the day, for the emergency repairs of the existing Flagler Memorial Bridge across the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway mile 1021.8, Palm Beach, Florida, starting on July 8, 2013. Night time restrictions will limit horizontal clearance to 25 feet between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. daily for up to three months. The Flagler Memorial Bridge will be left in the open to navigation position between these hours.

The full 70 feet of horizontal clearance will be made available with a four hour notice to the on-scene tug.

The temporary waterway restriction limiting horizontal clearance to 70 feet will remain in effect at the existing Flagler Memorial Bridge until the replacement bridge is complete. Mariners are advised that changes to navigational clearance may be necessary as repair conditions develop.

The temporary regulations
for the Flagler Memorial and Royal Park Bridges will remain as follows: Flagler Memorial Bridge schedule will remain on the quarter hour and three-quarter hour except that from 8:16 a.m. to 9:14 a.m. and from 4:16 p.m. to 5:14 p.m., The Royal Park Bridge will remain on the hour and hour-hour schedule except that from 8:01 a.m. to 8:59 a.m. and from 4:31 p.m. to 5:29 p.m. this bridge will be allowed to remain closed to navigation, Monday through Friday until the repairs are completed on the Flagler Memorial Bridge.

Archer Western Inc
has advised the bridge owner that they will have divers around the structure in and around the navigable channel Mariners are reminded to avoid diving flags at all times and if the waterway is too restrictive due to this operation to come to all stop until the divers have moved outside the navigable channel. The Coast Guard is working with the bridge owner to address additional safety concerns created by this diving operation.

Due to the unusual circumstances associated with the bridge structure, the bridge owner has requested an emergency back-up plan in case the repairs are unable to be accomplished as anticipated. If the Flagler Memorial Bridge malfunctions and is left in the open to navigation position, the Royal Park and Southern Boulevard Bridges will be placed on restricted schedules to accommodate increased vehicular traffic.
If an emergency occurs, the Royal Park Bridge will be on an hourly schedule at the quarter after the hour, except that from 8:16 a.m. to 10:14 a.m. and from 4:16 p.m. to 6:14 p.m. this bridge will be allowed to remain closed to navigation. The Southern Boulevard Bridge will remain on the twice an hour schedule (top of the hour and bottom of the hour), except that from 8:31 a.m. to 9:59 a.m. and from 4:31 p.m. to 5:59 p.m. this bridge will be allowed to remain closed to navigation.

Additional waterway restrictions will be promulgated once the new Flagler Memorial Bridge construction commences.


REPEATING IN NOVEMBER - FLORIDA – ATLANTIC INTRACOASTAL WATERWAY – WEST PALM BEACH TO MIAMI – WEST PALM BEACH – LAKE AVENUE/ROBERT HARRIS BRIDGE: Special Bridge Regulations.

District Seven Bridge Branch office has been contacted by a Florida State Representative and the City of West Palm Beach with regard to vehicle traffic congestion concerns created by the removal of the East Ocean Avenue Bridge
. Vehicle traffic has been detoured to the Lake Avenue/Robert Harris SR 802 Bridge across the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway mile 1028.8, West Palm Beach, Florida; for this reason they have requested that this bridge be placed on a twice an hour schedule. This office has evaluated the situation and determined that starting on May 1, 2012 the draw of the Lake Avenue/Robert Harris (SR 802) will open on the quarter-hour and three-quarter-hour, 24 hours-a-day, seven days-a-week. Public vessels of the United States and tugs with tows must be passed at anytime. This temporary schedule is expected to continue until November 15. 2013.

FLORIDA - ATLANTIC INTRACOASTAL WATERWAY - WEST PALM BEACH TO MIAMI - LANTANA - EAST OCEAN AVENUE BRIDGE: Bridge Replacement.

GLF Construction Corporation has advised this office that the demolition and replacement of the East Ocean Avenue Bridge across the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway mile 1031, Lantana, Palm Beach County, Florida will start on March 20, 2012 and will continue until November 15, 2013.

If your vessel needs assistance for safe passage, please provide GLF a twenty four hour notice by calling (954) 829-2781 or by contacting the tug “MISS THELMA” on marine channel 16. The contractor will have a barge in the waterway, under the east structural steel leaf between these dates, for safety reasons, maintaining the horizontal clearance of 60 feet while the east bascule leaf is in the down position. If your vessel is wider than 60 feet, but has less than 21 feet of vertical height, please provide GLF a twenty four hour notice by calling (954) 829-2781 or by contacting the tug “MISS THELMA” on marine channel 16, and the barge(s) in the channel can be temporarily moved out of the channel for your vessel to pass through the bridge.
 

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November 2013 Section A

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