Information from FWC

FWC UPDATE — 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

FWC Commissioners set 2012 recreational red snapper season in the Gulf

As announced in June, the first ten days of July are included in the season. (The state season is the same as the recently announced federal recreational red snapper season.) Take a look at last month's update if you want those details again or get more information about red snapper fishing  online at MyFWC.com/Fishing.

AS ANNOUNCED IN JUNE

New manatee protection zones coming to Flagler County
Flagler County is getting new manatee protection zones, which may already be in effect, at least from now through Sept. 7 once signs are posted.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) worked closely with Flagler County and other stakeholders to establish zones on the Intracoastal Waterway that will improve manatee protection while limiting the impact on local businesses and boaters.

The Commissioners approved the new manatee conservation measure, which had been published and also discussed at a Feb. 29 public hearing in Bunnell.

“In summer, when the new manatee protection zones are in effect, the time needed for a boater to travel the entire length of the Intracoastal Waterway in Flagler County will increase by about 15 minutes,” said Kipp Frohlich, leader of the FWC’s Imperiled Species section.

There will be 2.7 miles of slow-speed zones on the 18.6 miles of Intracoastal Waterway channel within the county.
Manatee protection zones will be posted in these areas:

  • near Hammock Dunes Parkway Bridge in Palm Coast;
  • near Flagler Beach from the Highway 100 bridge to the Silver Lake area, including the Lehigh Canal; and
  • in the vicinity of Gamble Rogers State Recreation Area.

Summer months are when manatees are most likely to be found in the Intracoastal Waterway in Flagler County, and that is also the time when increased boat traffic presents a greater risk of injury to manatees. As a result, the manatee protection zones in Flagler County will be in effect annually from May 1 through Sept. 7, to include Labor Day.

Learn more about recreational fishing at MyFWC.com/Fishing by clicking on “Saltwater” and “Recreational Regulations.

FWC approves ordinance for anchoring/mooring pilot program for St. Petersburg

Early in May in Crystal River, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved, with one contingency, the city of St. Petersburg’s proposed boating ordinance for the anchoring and mooring pilot program coordinated by the FWC.

Local governments for the five communities participating in the pilot program are responsible for soliciting public input and adopting local ordinances within their jurisdictions. These ordinances must be approved by the FWC and will continue to be evaluated by the FWC and the Legislature. Since June 2011, when the final participant was selected for the program, FWC staff has been attending the sites’ public-input meetings to provide information on the pilot program.  [MORE}

FWC approves ordinance for anchoring/mooring pilot program in Sarasota

At a recent meeting in Palm Beach Gardens, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved, with one contingency, the city of Sarasota’s proposed boating ordinance for the anchoring and mooring pilot program coordinated by the FWC.

“The goal of the anchoring and mooring pilot program is to explore potential options for regulating the anchoring or mooring of non-live-aboard vessels outside the boundaries of public mooring fields,” said Maj. Jack Daugherty, leader of the FWC’s Boating and Waterways Section. “The FWC’s role is to provide consultation and technical assistance on the issues.”

Local governments for the five communities participating in the pilot program are responsible for soliciting public input and adopting local ordinances within their jurisdictions. These ordinances must be approved by the FWC and will continue to be evaluated by the FWC and the Legislature. Since June 2011, when the final participant was selected for the program, FWC staff members have been attending the sites’ public-input meetings to provide information on the pilot program. [MORE}

Bay scallop season opens July 1

It’s time, bay scallop harvesters! Get your snorkels, masks and dive flags ready. The recreational bay scallop harvest season starts July 1.

The season is regularly open through Sept. 10, but at its June 28 meeting in Palm Beach Gardens, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) extended the season by two weeks. Click HERE for details.

Bay scallops can be recreationally harvested in Gulf of Mexico state waters (shore to nine nautical miles) from the Pasco-Hernando County line to the west bank of the Mexico Beach Canal in Bay County.

The recreational bag limit is two gallons of whole bay scallops or one pint of meat per person, per day, with a vessel limit of 10 gallons of whole bay scallops or one-half gallon of meat.

There is no commercial harvest for bay scallops in Florida state waters.

FWC officers will be working during scallop season to ensure that everyone has an enjoyable, safe day on the water. To help boaters remain safe they must follow all safety regulations, including having all necessary safety equipment onboard.

“With extra people on and in the water, it is especially important that divers and snorkelers properly display a dive flag and boaters steer clear of those in the water,” said Col. Jim Brown, director of the FWC’s Division of Law Enforcement.

For more information about bay scallop season, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Bay Scallops.” To learn more about the June 27-28 Commission meeting, visit MyFWC.com/Commission.

Snook to remain closed for another year in Gulf waters

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) voted to keep the recreational harvest of snook in Gulf of Mexico waters closed for another year to offer the species additional protection after a 2010 cold kill detrimentally affected the population.

The decision came at the June 28 Commission meeting in Palm Beach Gardens after staff presented an updated stock assessment that showed snook populations are improving in the Atlantic and are not in biological jeopardy in the Gulf. The next assessment is due in 2015.

“If we have a bad winter this year, we will benefit from this caution; if we don’t have a bad winter, we will let all these breeding fish come through the slot,” said Vice Chairman Kenneth Wright, referring to the snook slot limit of 28 to 33 inches in Gulf of Mexico waters. “We’ll really have done something good and we’ll have protected some of these fish.”

The recreational snook season was closed in Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic waters by executive order on Jan.16, 2010, after the cold kill. The FWC manages snook in both state and federal waters, though the species tends to inhabit the shallower, near-shore state waters. The effects of the cold kill were less severe on the Atlantic coast, where the normal season reopened for harvest Sept. 1, 2011.

The Gulf of Mexico recreational season was to reopen Sept. 1, 2012, and now is expected to reopen Sept. 1, 2013. Catch-and-release of snook will be allowed during the closure. In the Atlantic, the season will remain unchanged. Annual closures in the Atlantic are from Dec. 15 through Jan. 31 and from June 1 through Aug. 31.

There is no commercial harvest for snook in Florida.

Snook are one of Florida’s premier game fish, and anglers often practice catch-and-release techniques when targeting this species. When planning to release snook, proper handling techniques ensure the best chance of survival. This includes returning the fish to the water as quickly as possible; using wet hands to handle the fish; supporting its weight in a horizontal position when the fish is out of the water; not holding the fish by the gill plate, eye or jaw; and reviving the fish if necessary by running it through the water head-first to allow water to flow over its gills.

Learn more about snook .”

*FWC, DEP, DACS enhance service to Floridians

As of July 1, officers and staff from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Services (DACS) will be combined with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) in a move directed by the Florida Legislature and approved by Gov. Rick Scott.

The 145 new sworn officers will don FWC uniforms and integrate completely into the ranks of the FWC, resulting in more efficient service to Floridians and visitors.[MORE]

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