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Tag: fwc

FWC Marine Fisheries Management Workshops, Summer 2015

by on Jun.11, 2015, under FLORIDA'S BIG BEND AND EMERALD COAST, TAMPA BAY AND SOUTHWEST FLORIDA

Do you have ideas about how Florida’s marine fisheries should be managed? The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) wants to hear from you.

Whether you are a seafood aficionado who wants priority placed on getting fish to the dinner plate or a recreational fisher who prefers to catch and release, we want to know what marine fisheries issues you are concerned about. This is your chance to let us know what we are doing right, where you see opportunities for improvement, and what your top priorities for marine fisheries management are.

To gather this input and develop a better understanding of the public’s views on marine fisheries, the FWC will host several workshops across the state throughout the month of July 2015.

All are invited and we hope you will be able to attend.

Groups that might be interested in participating include commercial and recreational fishers, wholesale dealers, those in the tourism industry, fishing guides, divers and concerned citizens.

At the meetings, staff will provide a brief presentation about statewide and regional fisheries management issues that are currently being worked on and other potential issues that have been brought to our attention. Then it will be your turn to fill in any gaps and let us know where you think the FWC should focus its efforts in the coming years.

Workshops are from 6 to 8 p.m. local time.

July 6:

  • Key West – Harvey Governmental Center, 1200 Thurman Ave
  • Naples – City of Naples – City Clerk Office, 735 8th St. S.

July 7:

  • Islamorada – Founders Park Community Center, 87000 Overseas Hwy.
  • Punta Gorda – Punta Gorda City Hall, Council Chambers, 326 W. Marion Ave.

July 8:

  • Coral Gables – Hyatt Regency Coral Gables, 50 Alhambra Plaza
  • St. Petersburg – Fish & Wildlife Research Institute, 100 Eight Ave. SE, Karen A. Steidinger Auditorium

July 9:

  • Jupiter – River Center, Burt Reynolds Park, 805 N. US Hwy 1
  • Crystal River – City Hall Council Chambers, 123 NW Highway 19

July 13:

  • Pensacola – Sanders Beach Community Center, 913 South I St.

July 14:

  • Destin – Destin Community Center, 101 Stahlman Ave.

July 15:

  • Panama City – Gibson Hall, Gulf Coast State College, 5230 West US Hwy 98

July 16:

  • Steinhatchee – Steinhatchee Community Center, 1013 Riverside Dr

July 20:

  • Stuart – City of Stuart, Commission Chambers, 121 SW Flagler Ave.

July 21:

  • Ft. Pierce – City of Ft. Pierce, St. Lucie County Commission Chambers, 2300 Virginia Ave.

July 22:

  • Cocoa – Cocoa Central Branch Library, 308 Forrest Ave.

July 23:

  • Ormond Beach – City Hall, 22 South Beach St.

July 27:

  • Statewide Online Webinar

July 28:

  • Carrabelle – City of Carrabelle, 1001 Gray Ave.

July 30:

  • Jacksonville – Jacksonville Public Library – SE Branch, 10599 Deerwood Park Blvd.
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Free Fishing Weekends In Florida, June 2015

by on Jun.05, 2015, under FLORIDA'S BIG BEND AND EMERALD COAST, TAMPA BAY AND SOUTHWEST FLORIDA

Governor Rick Scott announced four license-free fishing days in June for Florida residents and visitors. The license-free fishing weekends are: Saturday and Sunday, June 6-7, saltwater recreational fishing license requirement will be waived. Saturday and Sunday, June 13-14, freshwater recreational fishing license requirement will be waived. Governor Scott said, “This summer, we’re excited to make it easier for families to enjoy the world class fishing our state has to offer. Florida is the fishing capital of the world and one of the many reasons we welcomed a record 98.9 million visitors to the Sunshine State last year. I look forward to fishing with my grandsons this summer, and I hope everyone takes advantage of license-free fishing this month.” “We hope new anglers, including residents and visitors, are inspired to join in the excitement with those who already enjoy fishing,” said FWC Executive Director Nick Wiley. “This is an excellent way for the entire family to get out and enjoy all of the great fishing opportunities we have to offer in Florida: the Fishing Capital of the World!” The four days in June are a part of the eight total license-free fishing days the FWC offers each year. All bag limits, seasons and size restrictions apply on these dates. To learn more about license-free fishing days, visit MyFWC.com/License.

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Four Florida Counties Open April 1, 2015 for Gag Grouper Harvest

by on Mar.25, 2015, under Horseshoe Beach, Keaton Beach to Fenholloway, St. Marks, Aucilla and Econfina, Steinhatchee

From:  The Fishing Wire

State waters off the coast of Franklin, Wakulla, Jefferson and Taylor counties will open to recreational harvest of gag grouper starting April 1.

This regional season will remain open through June 30, with the first day of the closure being July 1. The season also includes all waters of Apalachicola Bay and Indian Pass, including those in Gulf County, and all waters of the Steinhatchee River, including those in Dixie County.

Gag grouper caught in state Gulf waters (from shore to 9 nautical miles out) off the four counties can be landed on the Gulf County side of Indian Pass and the Dixie County side of the Steinhatchee River, but may not be taken ashore in other areas that are closed to harvest. For example, a gag grouper caught April 1 in state waters off Jefferson County cannot be taken ashore in Levy County or parts of Dixie County outside of the Steinhatchee River. To see maps of these areas, go to MyFWC.com/Fishing and select “Saltwater,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Gulf Grouper.”

In the remainder of Gulf of Mexico state waters, anglers will be able to keep gag grouper from July 1 through Dec. 3, with the season closing Dec. 4. State waters off Franklin, Wakulla, Jefferson and Taylor counties will not be open during the July-through-December season. Monroe County state waters follow Atlantic grouper rules.

The season in all federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico also opens July 1 but closes Dec. 3, with the last day of harvest being Dec. 2.

In the Gulf, the gag grouper recreational harvest minimum size limit is 22 inches total length and the bag limit is two gag grouper per person. Recreational anglers targeting groupers in the Gulf may harvest no more than four grouper per person per day (within this four-fish limit, anglers may keep only two gag grouper).

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

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Gulf Red Snapper Workshop Slated for St. Petersburg, Florida, Aug. 11, 2014

by on Aug.06, 2014, under FLORIDA'S BIG BEND AND EMERALD COAST, TAMPA BAY AND SOUTHWEST FLORIDA

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is hosting a Gulf of Mexico red snapper workshop Aug. 11 in St. Petersburg for recreational stakeholders to discuss state and federal management of recreational red snapper. The workshop will also explore potential future approaches to managing this fishery in an effort to ensure optimal access for Florida’s resident and visiting anglers. Anglers who would like to share their ideas and help improve management are encouraged to attend. The meeting is from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, 3rd floor conference room, 100 Eighth Ave. SE, St. Petersburg. Red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico off Florida are managed by the FWC in state waters (from shore to 9 nautical miles) and by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council in federal waters (beyond 9 nautical miles). These snapper are largely harvested in federal waters but also occur and are harvested recreationally in state waters off northwest Florida. Because of management constraints, the federal season has consistently been shortened for several years in a row, even though the recreational quota, or total poundage of fish that could be caught by anglers, has increased and the red snapper population has improved. This year’s federal season was the shortest yet, at nine days. Florida’s state season was 52 days. The FWC is seeking input from recreational anglers about how to better manage recreational harvest of this species at the state and federal level while continuing to rebuild the fishery. Several management options that are being considered for federal waters by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council will be discussed. Options include sector separation, which entails dividing the federal recreational red snapper quota into separate private-angler and for-hire quotas; an individual fishing quota (IFQ) program for federally permitted charter and head boats, similar to the existing program for commercial vessels, which allots a specific portion of fish to individual vessels; and regional management, in which the recreational fishery in federal waters could be managed on a state-by-state basis. These workshops offer stakeholders an opportunity to share their expectations for the red snapper fishery and their ideas on potential management options for state and federal waters. Please call 850-487-0554 or email Marine@MyFWC.com for more information.
For more on these workshops, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater” and “Rulemaking.”
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Citrus and Taylor County Scalloping Guide Available, Summer 2014

by on Jun.25, 2014, under Chassahowitzka and Homosassa, Keaton Beach to Fenholloway, Ozello to Crystal River, Steinhatchee

The new Citrus County guide features completely updated boat ramp and marina locator that Florida Sea Grant has published for the last several years.


And don’t forget about the companion, the Taylor County scalloping guide and marina locator map.

Both guides feature historically abundant scalloping areas, boat ramp and marina locations, rules and regulations, and recipes!

Readers can order one free copy of each brochure by emailing us at info@flseagrant.org, or calling us at (352) 392-2801, or downloading the whole thing at  https://www.flseagrant.org/fisheries/scalloping/

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Free Fishing Days Set For Florida, 2014

by on Apr.01, 2014, under CAPT. TOMMY'S BOOK SIGNINGS, TALKS, TRAVELS

Free Fishing Days Set for Florida

Free fishing days provide an excellent opportunity for parents who don’t yet have licenses to take youth fishing, or avid anglers to introduce a friend to fishing without having to purchase a license. On these days, the fishing license requirement is waived for all recreational anglers (residents and non-residents).

All other rules (e.g., seasons, bag and size limits) apply.

License-free freshwater days for 2014

  • Saturday, April 5
  • Sunday, April 6
  • Saturday, June 14
  • Sunday, June 15

License-free saltwater days for 2014

  • Saturday, June 7
  • Sunday, June 8
  • Saturday, September 6
  • Saturday, November 29

The saltwater waiver applies to any recreational harvest requiring a saltwater fishing license (e.g., crabbing, lobstering, scalloping, etc.) as well as fishing from shore or a boat. A snook or spiny lobster permit are not required on these days.

The June free fishing days were chosen because they coincide with the first and last days of National Fishing and Boating Week External Website which is set as the first to second Saturday in June each year.

License-free freshwater days for 2015 and beyond

  • First Saturday and Sunday in April
  • Second Saturday and Sunday in June

License-free saltwater days for 2015 and beyond

  • First Saturday and Sunday in June
  • First Saturday in September
  • Saturday following Thanksgiving

– See more at: http://www.thefishingwire.com/story/315342#sthash.3w3GiDNU.dpuf

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Sailfish: State’s saltwater fish offers on-the-water excitement

by on Mar.11, 2014, under Uncategorized

Sailfish hold a special place in many Florida resident and visitor’s hearts. Whether they’ve admired a replica of the beautiful fish while waiting for a fresh-caught meal at a local restaurant, or felt their blood pump as one leapt into the air on the other end of a fishing line, the fish known for its tall “sail-like” dorsal fin is a Florida icon. Though you can find the highly migratory species in warm offshore waters around the globe, sailfish are so abundant off the coast of Florida and so popular with people it was made the state’s official saltwater fish in 1975.
Between its aesthetic beauty and its penchant for fighting, sailfish are a recreational favorite.

Like bonefish or tarpon, two of Florida’s other iconic fishes, the sailfish has a higher value as a recreational catch-and-release species than it does as a commercial food fish. The meat is tough and is rarely eaten unless smoked.

I sat down with coworker, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission biologist and sailfish fan Justin Lerner to find out a little more about the appeal of fishing for sailfish.

“It’s very exciting fishing, especially when using a kite,” Lerner said, describing a fishing method where an actual kite is used to dangle bait at the top of the water, enticing the sailfish to take the bait right before your eyes. “It is a very fast, very acrobatic fish with a lot of energy.”

Lerner caught his first sailfish in 2000 on an offshore charter trip and was instantly hooked (my apologies for the pun).

While they are typically caught in water 80 to 240 feet deep, sailfish, unlike other billfish, can be found in fairly shallow water and, though not common, have even been caught off piers in south Florida and in the northern Gulf of Mexico near Panama City.

Look for color changes in the water, Lerner said, and fish along them. When the water goes from an inshore green to a deep blue you are in the right spot.

Sailfish can be caught in every region of Florida, but they are more abundant in south Florida in the colder months, from October through March.

“Cold fronts drive bait south, and fish run an interception,” Lerner said.

In areas of north Florida and the Panhandle, such as Panama City, they are more abundant during the summer and fall months.

Sailfish have been regulated in state waters at least since 1988, when a possession limit of one billfish per person was implemented, sale was prohibited, and gear was restricted to hook and line.

Today, there is a recreational bag limit of one billfish per person. Billfish includes blue marlin, white marlin, roundscale spearfish and sailfish. This means you can catch and keep one only billfish species per person, per day. There is no daily bag limit in federal waters for sailfish.

When fishing in federal waters, a federal Highly Migratory Species angling permit is required. Federal waters are beyond 3 nautical miles in the Atlantic and beyond 9 nautical miles in the Gulf.

While technique varies, one of the most popular ways to catch them is by kite fishing with live bait, usually goggle eyes or blue runners. Other popular techniques are slow trolling with live ballyhoo, or trolling with hookless bait and teasers and casting to fish as they appear in the trolling spread. Other popular live baits are threadfin herring and pilchards.

Hooked a sailfish? Once you get your fish to the boat, use caution. The long and pointed bill can be dangerous when attempting to unhook the fish. Lerner suggests holding the fish in the water by the bill while unhooking. Another option is cutting the line as close to the fish as possible. When release is your intention, leave the fish in the water at all times. Removing large fish from the water can cause internal damage to the fish and decrease its chances of survival. In all federal waters off Florida, a sailfish must remain in the water if you intend to release it.

While the species fights hard, it can tire and may need to be revived if you plan on releasing the fish. Use the appropriate tackle to shorten the amount of time it takes to bring your catch to your vessel. You can revive a sailfish by pointing its head into the current or pulling the fish through the current while the boat is moving slowly. This pushes water over the gills.

While most sailfish are caught and then released, if you plan on keeping yours, the sailfish caught in state or federal waters must be larger than 63 inches when measured from the end of the lower jaw to where the tail splits, also known as the fork.

Sailfish do not have a recreational closed season in state or federal waters.

All sailfish and other billfish caught in state and federal waters that are taken to shore or landed must be reported to NOAA Fisheries with 24 hours by calling 800-894-5528 or visiting the HMS permits website at https://HMSPermits.noaa.gov and selecting “landing reports.”

Learn more about billfish, including sailfish, by visiting MyFWC.com/Fishing and clicking on “Saltwater,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Highly Migratory Species.”

Have questions, comments or suggestions for this column? Email them to Saltwater@MyFWC.com.

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Gulf reef fish workshops scheduled for March 2014

by on Feb.25, 2014, under CAPT. TOMMY'S BOOK SIGNINGS, TALKS, TRAVELS

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is hosting several public workshops in early March to gather public input on a proposal that would improve recreational reef fish data collection.
The proposal would create a mandatory permit or registry system for Gulf of Mexico recreational anglers who target reef fish like red snapper, grouper, amberjack and gray triggerfish. This system will help researchers better define the number of offshore anglers and help them contact these anglers to gather additional data. Get your voice heard on this important topic by attending an in-person workshop or a phone conference.
The workshops are scheduled for the following locations and times:
Monday, March 3: Fort Myers (6-8 p.m. EST), Bass Pro Shops, 1004 Gulf Center Dr.
Tuesday, March 4: St. Petersburg (6-8 p.m. EST), Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, 100 Eighth Ave. SE
Wednesday, March 5: Perry (6-8 p.m. EST), Perry City Council, 224 S. Jefferson St.
Thursday, March 6: Destin (6-8 p.m. CST), Destin Community Center, 101 Stahlman Ave.
Tuesday, March 11: Phone Conference (6-8 p.m. EDT), RSVP to the Division of Marine Fisheries Management at 850-487-0554 to obtain instructions to join the meeting.
Wednesday, March 12: Pensacola (6-8 p.m. CDT), Escambia County Extension Office Auditorium, 3740 Stefani Rd.
For more information visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater,” “Rulemaking” and “Public Workshops” or call 850-487-0554.

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Free Kids’ Fishing Clinic promises day of learning, fun–February 22, 2014

by on Feb.19, 2014, under Chassahowitzka and Homosassa, Ozello to Crystal River

Teaching children a lifelong hobby, instilling appreciation for our marine environment and providing fun, family outings are the objectives for the Kids’ Fishing Clinic in Crystal River on Feb. 22.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will offer a free Kids’ Fishing Clinic for children between the ages of 5 and 15 from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at Fort Island Trail Park, 12073 W. Fort Island Trail. Advance registrationis required. To register, call 352-527-7540.
This free clinic enables young people to learn the basics of environmental stewardship, fishing ethics, angling skills and safety. In addition, environmental displays will offer participants a unique chance to experience Florida’s marine life firsthand.
Kids’ Fishing Clinics strive to achieve several goals, but the main objective is to create responsible marine-resource stewards by teaching children about the vulnerability of Florida’s marine ecosystems. In addition, organizers hope to teach fundamental saltwater fishing skills and provide participants a positive fishing experience.
Fishing equipment and bait will be provided for kids to use during the clinic, but organizers encourage children who own fishing tackle to bring it. A limited number of rods and reels will be given away to participants upon completion of the clinic.
If conditions allow, participants will have the opportunity to practice their new skills and fish from the pier. This event is a photo catch-and-release activity. An adult must accompany all participants.
Individuals or companies interested in helping sponsor this event or volunteering at the clinic should call 352-527-7540 or the FWC’s Nancy Fisher at 850-487-0554.
To find out more about taking a kid fishing, go to MyFWC.com/Fishing and select the “Youth & Student” option under “Education.”

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Florida FWC to Meet in Tampa, Feb. 12-13, 2014

by on Feb.07, 2014, under CAPT. TOMMY'S BOOK SIGNINGS, TALKS, TRAVELS

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will meet Feb. 12-13 in Tampa. The meeting, at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel, 4500 W. Cypress St., Tampa Airport – Westshore, starts at 8:30 a.m. both days. The public is invited and will be provided opportunities to speak.

Highlights of the agenda include:

  • Discussing issues relating to fish and wildlife conservation and, on day two, fishery management council updates.
  • Possible rule adjustments for a few St. Johns River boating restricted areas.
  • Proposed hunting and fishing rule changes to increase sportsmen’s opportunities at FWC-managed areas.
  • A decision on implementing new sea cucumber harvesting regulations.
  • Deciding whether to remove a recreational bag limit prohibition for captain and crew of for-hire vessels seeking certain Atlantic reef fish.
  • Presentation of a red snapper draft rule to set the 2014 recreational fishing season in Gulf waters.

For the full agenda: MyFWC.com/Commission, select “Commission Meetings.”

Can’t attend meeting in person? Follow live coverage on Twitter @MyFWC and join in the conversation by using tag #FWC2014. Link: https://twitter.com/MyFWC.

Also check the Florida Channel (www.thefloridachannel.org/) for possible live webcast times. – See more at: http://www.thefishingwire.com/story/310680#sthash.sq6WInyo.dpuf

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