September 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
LIMITED HARVEST FOR SNOOK, A PREMIER FLORIDA FISH, STARTS SEPT. 1
The recreational harvest season for snook, a premier Florida fish, starts Sept. 1 statewide. Unique to the region, snook are one of the many reasons Florida is the Fishing Capital of the World.
While the fishery is already more than 90 percent catch-and-release, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) encourages anglers to continue to use moderation when determining whether or not to take a snook home. Gulf snook populations were negatively impacted by a 2010 cold kill. Gulf snook numbers currently exceed FWC management goals, but are still rebuilding to pre-cold-kill levels, which is one of the reasons why it is important to handle fish with care and use moderation when determining whether or not to harvest one.
When releasing a snook, proper handling methods can help ensure the species’ abundance for anglers today and generations to come. To learn more about catch-and-release fish handling, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater” then “Recreational Regulations.”
Regular season closures are designed to help protect the species during vulnerable times such as cold weather and spawning. Snook are closed to harvest Dec. 1 through the end of February, and May 1 through Aug. 31 in Gulf state and federal waters, including Monroe County and Everglades National Park. In Atlantic state and federal waters, including Lake Okeechobee and the Kissimmee River, snook season is closed Dec. 15 through Jan. 31 and June 1 through Aug. 31.
Management measures such as the one-fish-per-person, per-day bag limit, annual closed seasons and size limits will help continue rebuilding snook populations on both coasts.
Minimum and maximum size limits help protect juvenile and older breeding fish within the population. In the Atlantic, snook must be not less than 28 inches and not 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. In the Gulf, they must be not less than 28 inches and not more than 33 inches total length.
A snook permit as well as a recreational saltwater license is required unless the angler is exempt from the recreational license requirement. Snook may be targeted or harvested with hook and line gear only. Snagging is prohibited.
Researchers ask anglers who harvest the fish to save their filleted carcasses and provide them to the FWC by dropping them off at a partcipating bait and tackle store. For the county-by-county list, go to MyFWC.com/Research and click on “Saltwater,” then “Snook” (under “Saltwater Fish”) and “Snook Anglers Asked to Help with Research.”
These carcasses provide biological data, including the size, age, maturity and sex of the catch. This information is important to the FWC in completing stock assessments on species such as snook. If you see a snook fishery violation, please call the Wildlife Alert Program at 888-404-FWCC (3922).
Visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater Fishing” and “Recreational Regulations” for more information on snook.
REPEATING June 22 PRESS RELEASE below with lock schedules.
8/28/2015 Note: Further information maybe included here with the possibility of Erica.
CORPS URGES BOATERS TO USE CAUTION ON OKEECHOBEE WATERWAY
Release no. 15-069
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District is urging boaters on Lake Okeechobee to use caution as a result of falling water levels impacting navigation routes.
The Corps issued a Notice to Navigation yesterday (July 15), advising commercial and recreational vessels to use extreme caution while traveling Okeechobee Waterway Route 2 between Port Mayaca and Clewiston. Route 2 runs along the southern edge of the lake through Pahokee, Belle Glade, South Bay, and Clewiston. Officials are also asking boaters to use caution in the waterway between Clewiston and Moore Haven as temporary dams associated with rehabilitation work on the Herbert Hoover Dike have created a narrow channel at multiple locations.
“We are asking boaters to be mindful of the shallow water and the potential for submerged objects when traveling through the area,” said Carl Williams with the Corps’ South Florida Operations Office in Clewiston.
Today’s lake elevation is 11.99 feet, which means the navigational depth along Route 2 is estimated at 4.1 feet. The navigational depth along Route 1, which is a direct route across the lake, is estimated at 5.9 feet.
For more information on navigation notices concerning the Okeechobee Waterway, please visit the following website:
LOCKING RESTRICTIONS IMPLEMENTED ON OKEECHOBEE WATERWAY
Release no. 15-064
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District has announced restrictions for lock operations on the Okeechobee Waterway due to receding water levels on Lake Okeechobee, effective immediately.
Locking operations at the W.P. Franklin Lock & Dam near Fort Myers and the St. Lucie Lock & Dam near Stuart will be conducted every two hours from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily. This action is the result of the water level at Lake Okeechobee falling below 12.5 feet.
“This is standard operating procedure whenever the lake falls below 12.5 feet” said Steve Dunham, Chief of the Corps’ South Florida Operations Office. “We encourage boaters to be aware of the lake level and consider that drafts will continue to decrease if the lake drops more in coming weeks.”
Under the updated schedule, boats will be locked through at the Franklin and St. Lucie Locks at 7 a.m., 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m., and 4:30 p.m. Operations at the other three locks, Ortona, Moore Haven, and Port Mayaca, will continue on demand between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. with final lockage beginning at 4:30 p.m.
Should the lake drop below 11.5 feet, additional reductions in service will be necessary. For more information on navigation notices concerning the Okeechobee Waterway, please visit the following website:
REPEATING: ANCHORING NEWS for APRIL 2015 -
SEPTEMBER Update Note: Florida Legislature has postponed decision. Watch for news elsewhere and here ...
NEWS From BoatUS
Boat Owners Association of The United States
880 S. Pickett St., Alexandria, VA 22304
Read this media alert online at: http://goo.gl/Avg985
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 25, 2015 / Updated March 25 2:00PM EDT
MEDIA ALERT UPDATE:
BoatUS: Anchoring Restrictions Under Review by Florida Legislature;
FL House Committee Bill HWSS 15-06 Has New Number: HB 7123
UPDATE: March 25, 2:00PM EDT: Earlier this morning BoatUS sent the following media alert that includes a discussion of Florida House Committee Bill HWSS 15-06. This bill has been updated by the House and is now named House Derelict Vessel Bill and known as HB 7123. For your reference, this change has been annotated in the copy below and BoatUS continues to urge recreational boaters have their voice heard on this important issue.
The 2015 Florida legislative session is underway, and the regulation of boat anchoring and how to take care of derelict boats remain hot topics in both the Florida Senate and House. Each are taking very different approaches that could affect how Florida boat owners as well as visiting cruisers use their boats in state waters:
FL Senate Bill 1548, introduced by Senator Charles Dean (District 5), would impose a substantial statewide restriction on overnight anchoring within 200 feet of the high water mark of residential property. Additionally, it would prohibit statewide anchoring or mooring a vessel that is incapable of moving under its own power, or exhibits other specific characteristics like being partially sunken, demonstrating it is at-risk of becoming derelict.
Over the last decade, Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) has understood that derelict boats in Florida have muddied the waters with regard to rational conversations about anchoring. As a result, BoatUS wholeheartedly supports any effort to reduce the state’s derelict vessel population. However, BoatUS is very concerned over the chilling effect that a significant, statewide anchoring restriction could have.
In the Florida House, Derelict Vessel Bill HB 7123 introduced by Representative Holly Raschein (District 120) deals with derelict vessels without changing current anchoring law. The bill creates an “at risk” category of boats and gives local governments new tools to take care of these boats. Because local governments have sought anchoring restrictions to address problems with derelicts, BoatUS believes that Derelict Vessel Bill HB 7123 is a common sense step in providing new tools to deter vessels from becoming derelict in the first place.
TWO ACTIONS NEEDED NOW:
1. Because of its onerous 200 foot statewide anchoring restriction, BoatUS urges boaters to request that their Florida State Senator reject SB 1548 by emailing them at: http://goo.gl/TUscmr .
Read Senate Bill 1548 at: http://goo.gl/lBnzeP.
2. Because of its common sense approach to derelict vessel issue, BoatUS urges boaters to voice their support of Derelict Vessel Bill HB 7123 by emailing their FL Representative at: http://goo.gl/wDZKUO .
Read Committee Bill HWSS 15-06 at: http://goo.gl/XYp6Ip .
Boat Owners Association of The United States remains actively engaged with state lawmakers to ensure that active, responsible boaters will continue to enjoy the Sunshine State. BoatUS is the nation’s leading advocate for recreational boaters providing its over half million members with government representation, fighting against unfair federal taxes, fees and regulations that single out boat owners, and keeps boaters safe. BoatUS is also non-partisan. Additional information on Florida anchoring is at: BoatUS.com/gov/floridaanchoring.asp .
REPEATING IN AUGUST & SEPTEMBER
As of late MAY no “new” news on All Aboard Florida. Check our archives over the past few months for more information.
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.
USCG's request for comments on All Aboard Florida continues, probably 'til June, by mail at Office of the Commander, 7th Coast Guard Dist., Brickell Plaza Federal Bldg., 909 SE 1st Ave., #432, Miami, FL 33131-3050.
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.
FROM CAPT. JOHN YEAGER
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON HILLSBORO INLET BRIDGE REPAIRS
PARTIALLY REPEATING IN AUGUST & SEPTEMBER 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.
After June 28, 2015, 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 roadway will be closed to the vehicle traffic completely for 19 days in addition ... to the above two weeks two ??? four hours closure periods. 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.
REPEATING IN SEPTEMBER
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.
The Florida Department of Transportation has advised that the Flagler Memorial Bridge will be placed in the open to navigation position for a six month period. 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 Florida Department of Transportation has requested that the Flagler Memorial Bridge be placed on a restricted opening schedule until the new Flagler Memorial Bridge construction can be completed.
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 Flagler Memorial Bridge opening schedule has been changed to once an hour on the quarter-hour. In addition to the once an hour schedule, the Flagler Memorial Bridge will be allowed to not open at 8:15 a.m. and at 4:15. p.m. Monday through Friday except Federal holidays to allow for rush hour traffic. The bridge will be allowed to remain closed to navigation with no exemptions except for emergencies. The Royal Park and Southern Blvd Bridges will return to their normal operating schedules per 33 CFR 117.261:
(v) Royal Park (SR 704) bridge, mile 1022.6, at Palm Beach. The draw shall open on the hour and half-hour.
(w) Southern Boulevard (SR 700/80) bridge, mile 1024.7 at Palm Beach. The draw shall open on the quarter and three-quarter hour.
While the new Flagler Memorial Bridge is under construction, the following emergency plan will remain in effect with no exceptions except for emergencies:
If an emergency occurs and the Flagler Memorial Bridge is left in the open to navigation position, all vehicle traffic will be detoured to the bridges to the south. For this reason, the Royal Park Bridge will be on an hourly schedule at the quarter-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.
Ref: LNM 45-12 through 50-14 Chart: 11472
The following information provided by our editors is again included in the Gold Coast Cruising section of the new 15/16 print edition:
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.
CHANGED FOR MAY - REPEATING IN JULY & AUGUST & SEPTEMBER
FLORIDA – ATLANTIC INTRACOASTAL WATERWAY –WEST PALM BEACH TO MIAMI – NEW RIVER – FEC RAILROAD BRIDGE: Test Deviation.
The following information has been extracted from the Test Deviation, please view www.regulations.gov USCG-2015-0271 for the complete text.
The Coast Guard is issuing a temporary deviation from the operating schedule that governs the Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) Railroad Bridge across the New River, mile 2.5, at Fort Lauderdale, FL. This test deviation is from April 19 through 6:00 a.m. on October 16, 2015.
During the test deviation period, the draw of the FEC Railroad bridge across the New River, mile 2.5, at Fort Lauderdale, FL, will operate as follows:
The bridge is constantly tended.
The bridge tender will utilize a VHF-FM radio to communicate on channels 9 and 16 and may be contacted by telephone at 305-889-5572.
Signage will be posted displaying VHF radio contact information and the bridge tender and dispatch telephone number. A countdown clock for bridge closure shall be posted at the bridge site and visible for maritime traffic.
A bridge log will be maintained including, at a minimum, bridge opening and closing times.
(e) When the draw is in the fully open position, green lights will be displayed to indicate that vessels may pass.
(f) When a train approaches, the lights go to flashing red and a horn starts four blasts, pauses, and then continues four blasts then the draw lowers and locks.
(g) After the train has cleared the bridge, the draw opens and the lights return to green.
(h) The bridge shall not be closed more than 60 minutes combined for any 120 minute time period beginning at 12:01 a.m.
REPEATING IN SEPTEMBER
FLORIDA – ATLANTIC INTRACOASTAL WATERWAY – WEST PALM BEACH TO MIAMI – MIAMI – BROAD CAUSEWAY BRIDGE:
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 JUNE, REPEATED IN SEPTEMBER
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 Coast Guard has been advised that the planned 9 month operation to repair the West Venetian Bridge approaches has been delayed until June 1, 2015; the West Venetian Bridge will remain open to all marine traffic and the East Venetian Bridge in the closed to navigation position. REF: LNM 39-14 through 20-25 and Docket Number USCG-2014-0719 Chart: 11467.
CHANGED FOR JUNE, REPEATING IN SEPTEMBER
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 July 14, 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.
Additional Information: Tuesday, July 14 - test deviation ends, last day for public meeting request (120 days from test deviation beginning.); Monday, September 14 - Comment period ends. (180 days from test deviation beginning.) If you would like to comment on this test deviation, please use one of the following methods If you submit a comment, please include the docket number for this rulemaking (USCG-2015-0046), indicate the specific section of this document to which each comment applies, and provide a reason for each suggestion or recommendation. You may submit your comments and materials online (http://www.regulations.gov), or by fax, mail or hand delivery, but please use only one of these means. If you submit a comment online via http://www.regulations.gov it will be considered received by the Coast Guard when you successfully transmit the comment. If you fax, hand deliver or mail your comment, it will be considered as having been received by the Coast Guard when it is received at the Docket Management Facility. We recommend that you include your name and a mailing address, an e-mail address, or a phone number in the body of your document so that we can contact you if we have questions regarding your submission. To submit your comment online, type the docket number [USCG-2015-0046] in the "SEARCH" box and click "SEARCH." Click on "Submit a Comment" on the line associated with this rulemaking. If you submit your comments by mail or hand delivery, submit them in an unbound format, no larger than 8-1/2 by 11 inches, suitable for copying and electronic filing. If you submit them by mail and would like to know that they reached the Facility, please enclose a stamped, self-addressed postcard or envelope. We will consider all comments and materials received during the comment period and may change the rule based on your comments. Ref. LNM 08 through 20-15 and Docket Number USCG-2015-0046 Chart: 11451.