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
New manatee, sea turtle decals: an affordable way
New editions of manatee and sea turtle decals are available at local tax collectors’ offices across the state. The popular decals, produced annually by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), provide an important source of funds for the state’s efforts to conserve Florida’s manatees and sea turtles.
Anyone donating $5 will receive a decal. Donations support manatee and sea turtle research, rehabilitation and educational programs, as well as FWC conservation efforts. [MORE...]
FWC wants to hear from anglers about saltwater fishing in Florida
If you go saltwater fishing in this state, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) researchers want to learn about your experiences and opinions through the new online Florida Saltwater Fishing Panel. Anyone with a valid Florida saltwater fishing license or Persons with Disabilities Resident Hunting and Fishing License, as well as exempt residents age 65 and older, can sign up to take part in the panel, which begins this summer.
Registered panel members will be asked to complete one Web-based survey per month for a one-year period. The surveys will each take approximately 10-15 minutes to complete. While most of each survey will focus on the angler’s last saltwater fishing trip in Florida during the previous month, surveys may also include questions about current or proposed fishing regulations, licenses, conservation of fish stocks and management effectiveness. [MORE...]
AS ANNOUNCED IN JUNE
New manatee protection zones coming to Flagler County
Flagler County has new manatee protection zones in effect through Sept. 7.
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.
NEW FOR AUGUST:
FWC approves ordinance for anchoring. The FWC’s role is to provide consultation and technical assistance on the issues. For more information on the pilot program, visit MyFWC.com/Boating or call 850-488-5600.
More info on this in last month's update: Sarasota; St. Petersburg
AS ANNOUNCED IN JULY, Bay scallop seasON HAS BEEN EXTENDED TWO WEEKS AND STUDY to begin ON POSSIBLE FUTURE COMMERCIAL HARVEST
After determining that two years of season extensions did not significantly impact the bay scallop population, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) decided June 28 to permanently extend the recreational season by adding two weeks to the end.
The decision was made at the Commission meeting in Palm Beach Gardens. Commissioners also directed staff to look into the possibility of a future commercial harvest of bay scallops. The commercial harvest of bay scallops has been closed in Florida state waters since 1994.
The recreational season, which started July 1 and closed annually on Sept. 11, will now end Sept. 25.
Visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Bay Scallops” to learn more.
NEW FOR AUGUST When agencies come together, fisheries benefit
It’s not always easy to judge the success of collaboration. But thanks to five years of teamwork in the Dry Tortugas, anglers across Florida are seeing the collaborative benefits: more fish. (National Park Service Photo taken by John Dengler)
At a recent Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) meeting, the agency’s researchers presented the results of five years spent evaluating the Dry Tortugas National Park Research Natural Area.
This research sheds light on how fish and other natural resources have responded to the protection offered in the Dry Tortugas National Park Research Natural Area, a 46-square-mile area within the park. Fishing and anchoring are prohibited in the Research Natural Area, which was created in January 2007.
The Commission and the National Park Service (NPS) are proud to announce that the collaboration has been a success, not only to local populations of fish, but for fisheries management across Florida.
“I believe marine protected areas should only be implemented as a last resort, but, if one was going to be implemented, this was the right place to close and this was the right place to do the research,” said FWC Vice Chairman Kathy Barco. “They did it right. They talked with the fishermen and the other stakeholders.”
Using modeling techniques, University of Miami researchers predict that the spawning groups in the Tortugas supply larvae that settle throughout Florida waters, including the Keys, the West Florida shelf and eastern coastal areas north of Miami. Research also shows that seagrass beds in the area serve as nursery grounds for many exploited reef fish species, such as red and black grouper.
Inside the Research Natural Area, researchers found the number and size of mutton snapper, yellowtail snapper, red grouper and hogfish all have increased over the past five years. [MORE...]
Greater amberjack recreational season opens in Gulf
Greater Amberjack Catch
Kyle Miller holds his catch, a greater amberjack, after reeling it in off the waters of Panama City.
Taken April 3, 2012, on a tagging trip by Amanda Nalley
Permit harvest openS in South Florida special zone
Permit will open for recreational harvest Aug. 1 in the Special Permit Zone, an area south of Cape Florida on the west coast and south of Cape Sable on the east coast that includes state and federal waters.
The season closes annually on May 1. Outside of the Special Permit Zone, the recreational harvest of permit is open year-round. Commercial harvest of permit is not allowed inside the Special Permit Zone.
Recreational anglers fishing for permit inside the Special Permit Zone may take one fish per person, per day with no more than two fish being taken per vessel per day. Permit must be more than 22 inches fork length to be harvested. In state waters, anglers can take permit using only hook and line, but in federal waters permit may be caught by spear as well as hook and line.
In all other state and federal waters outside the Special Permit Zone, anglers may harvest two fish per day. The size limit for permit is larger than 11 inches but less than 22 inches fork length, with one exception: anglers may take one fish larger than 22 inches within the two-fish bag limit.
Click link to learn more about permit and pompano.
Spiny lobster season BEGINS
The 2012 recreational and commercial spiny lobster seasons opened with the two-day spiny lobster recreational season in July. The regular commercial and recreational lobster season starts Aug. 6 and runs through March 31.
Commercial fishermen may begin putting their traps in the water Aug. 1, and recreational and commercial fishermen may harvest spiny lobsters starting Aug. 6.
Spiny lobsters must have a carapace length greater than 3 inches to be taken during the open seasons, and divers must possess a measuring device and measure all lobsters in the water.
Lobster harvest is prohibited at all times in Everglades National Park, Dry Tortugas National Park, Biscayne Bay/Card Sound Spiny Lobster Sanctuary, certain areas in Pennekamp Park, and no-take areas in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
During the Aug. 6 - March 31 regular season, the daily recreational bag and on-the-water possession limit is six spiny lobsters per person.
You must have a recreational saltwater fishing license and a spiny lobster permit to recreationally harvest spiny lobsters unless you are exempt from recreational license requirements. Information about these licenses and permits is available online at MyFWC.com/License.
Divers and snorkelers must display a “divers-down” flag (red with a white diagonal stripe) while in the water. Divers-down flags displayed on vessels must be at least 20 inches by 24 inches, and a stiffener is required to keep the flag unfurled. Dive flags carried on floats must be at least 12 inches by 12 inches. Divers must make reasonable efforts to stay within 300 feet of a divers-down flag on open waters and within 100 feet of a flag within rivers, inlets or navigation channels. The flag must be displayed from the highest point of the vessel and must be visible from all directions. When divers are out of the water, the flag must not be displayed. More information on divers-down flag requirements is available online at MyFWC.com/Boating by clicking on “Boating Regulations.”
Additional information on recreational spiny lobster fishing, including how to measure spiny lobster, is available on line at MyFWC.com/Fishing by clicking on “Saltwater,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Lobster.”
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Greater Amberjack opens Aug. 1 for recreational harvest in Gulf of Mexico state and federal waters .
The season closes annually June 1.
The minimum size limit for Greater Amberjack in Gulf of Mexico waters is 30 inches fork length, which is measured from the tip of the fish’s closed mouth to the center of the fork in the tail. In Atlantic state waters, the size limit is 28 inches fork length.
Recreational anglers may take one fish per person, per day. Reef fish gear rules apply when fishing for greater amberjack. In Gulf waters, this means anglers must use circle hooks, and have a dehooking device and a venting tool on their vessel. Using these tools will help increase a fish’s chance of survival if it is caught and returned to the water.
State waters in the Gulf extend from shore to nine nautical miles and in the Atlantic from shore to three nautical miles; federal waters extend from those boundaries to about 200 miles from shore.
Click HERE to learn more about greater amberjack.