Thursday, June 30, 2016

Recreational gag grouper fishing closes today off Franklin, Wakulla Jefferson and Taylor Counties

Recreational Gag grouper fishing closes on July 1st in state waters off the coast of Franklin, Wakulla, Jefferson and Taylor counties.

Gag grouper fishing is allowed in our area from April 1st through June 30th.

The four-county region 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 federal waters during the federal season may be taken ashore in Franklin, Wakulla, Jefferson and Taylor counties, but boats with gag grouper aboard may not stop and must have gear stowed while traveling through state waters in that region.

Gag grouper fishing in the rest of the state is allowed from June 1st through December 31st.

Welcome to Florida - lightning capitol of the world

                This is the time of year that afternoon rain and thunderstorms are common, and lightning can pose a real danger in Florida.

Florida is known for being the deadliest state in the country for lightning strikes.

So far this year there have been nine deaths by lightning in the U.S., four of those have happened in Florida.
According to the National Weather Service, the four people killed by lightning in Florida were in Manatee County, Daytona Beach, Boynton Beach and Hobe Sound.
And those people were doing everyday things like working in the yard or enjoying a family picnic.
One of the most dangerous things you can do during a lightning storm is be fishing.

Lightning can strike from 10 miles away, so if you can hear thunder, you are in danger of being struck by lightning.

The only safe places to be during a thunderstorm are in a building or in a car.

Construction Activities Suspended for Independence Holiday Day weekend

For Immediate Release  
June 30, 2016
Ian Satter, 850-330-1205

Construction Activities Suspended for Independence Holiday Day weekend

Chipley – To promote safety and reduce congestion over the Independence Holiday Day weekend, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is suspending normal road construction activities on all major roads in Northwest Florida.  There will be no lane closures on the state road system from 12 p.m. Friday, July 1 to 12 a.m. Tuesday, July 5.

FDOT is extending an additional tool to help maintain congestion-free roadways over the holiday.  The Northwest Florida SunGuide Center will add staff to help monitor the roadways and extend Road Ranger Service Patrols Friday, July 1 and Monday, July 4. Road rangers will patrol U.S. 231 near the I-10 interchange and along I-10 in northwest Florida from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

If an emergency situation occurs during the upcoming holiday weekend that requires a lane closure, repairs will continue until that lane is reopened to the traveling public and all safety related issues that impede the traveling public have been addressed.

Motorists are reminded to use caution while traveling through work zones around barricades and equipment on current projects. Travelers can access Florida’s 511 service from cell phones, landlines, and the Internet to receive updates on travel in the area.

For more information, follow the Florida Department of Transportation District Three on Twitter @myfdot_nwfl or like us on Facebook

Awesome decals do great things for manatees, sea turtles

What looks awesome and does great things for manatees and sea turtles? The latest editions of colorful waterproof manatee and sea turtle decals from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) that are available July 1.
With each donation of $5 or more, individuals will receive their choice of one of this year’s decals and contribute to the conservation of these endangered and threatened species. Funds generated from the decals are used for research as well as rescue and management efforts to maintain healthy populations of manatees and sea turtles in Florida waters.
“Your kayak, canoe, paddleboard, motorboat or personal watercraft will look even better with a manatee or sea turtle decal. Or get both decals and put them on vehicles, laptops or wherever else you decide to display them,” said Carol Knox, FWC leader of imperiled species management.
“Decals are a fun way for you to help conserve manatees and sea turtles so they will be here for future generations,” Knox added.
Each year, the decals are redesigned by the FWC to address important conservation issues. The reverse sides contain information on conservation.
Tracking wild manatees is the theme of this year’s manatee decal. For over 20 years, FWC research staff have been detectives, tracking the travels of manatees along Florida’s coasts and rivers. To track manatees, researchers attach a buoyant radio tag containing a Global Positioning System transmitter to a padded belt around their tail. The GPS-transmitted locations then provide a detailed record of the manatees’ movements and migratory behavior. Wildlife managers use the tracking data to improve the management strategies used for continued recovery of this large aquatic mammal.
Do not disturb sea turtles is the theme of the new sea turtle decal. Seeing sea turtles crawl onto the beach at night and lay dozens of eggs is a special experience. However, it’s important that you do not disturb the large females digging their sandy nests or the small hatchlings that eventually break out of the eggs and head for the sea. Do not get close, shine lights on, or take flash photos of them. Also, remove items from the beach at night and turn off or shield lights that can be seen from the beach through the end of the nesting season in October.
The decals are available at local tax collectors’ offices throughout the state by checking the box on the form when you renew a vehicle or boat registration by mail, or directly from the FWC.
Go to and for more information about these species and how to get decals.
To report injured, sick, entangled or dead manatees or sea turtles, contact the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline by calling 1-888-404-3922 (FWCC), #FWC or *FWC on a cellphone, or by

FWC's Fishing in the Know - Division of Marine Fisheries Management Monthly Newsletter

July 2016

FWC's Fishing in the Know

Division of Marine Fisheries Management Monthly Newsletter

Lionfish Challenge David Garrett
David Garrett is on his way to being Florida's Lionfish King. He's collected more than 600 lionfish since the Lionfish Challenge began in May.
Submit your photos by emailing them

Commission Meeting – June

Action: Marine Fisheries Management items discussed at meeting near Apalachicola
  • South Atlantic federal fishery management updates

Draft rules:
  • Red drum – Draft rule approved to adopt the one-fish bag limit in the northwest management zone as a long-term management action. Final public hearing scheduled for September Commission meeting.
  • Mutton snapper – Draft rules approved to increase the minimum size limits, reduce the recreational bag limits and modify the commercial trip limits. Final public hearing scheduled for September Commission meeting. Staff also directed to host workshops in August.
  • Barracuda – Draft rule approved to create a slot limit in south Florida. Final public hearing scheduled for November Commission meeting.

Regulatory changes:
  • Bay scallops in St. Joseph Bay – Recreational season and bag limit changes approved. See below for more information.
  • Yellowtail snapper – Commercial gear requirements modified in the Gulf of Mexco.
  • Bringing fish back from The Bahamas – Measure approved allowing harvesters to bring back recreationally caught wahoo, dolphinfish and reef fish from the Bahamas as fillets instead of in whole condition.
  • Boca Grande Pass Boundary – Measure approved clarifying a recent regulatory boundary shift due to a buoy being relocated as a long-term management action.
Links for more information:
Agenda []
News Releases []

Bay Scallops - St. Joseph Bay/Gulf County

Action: Season dates, bag limits changed
Information: The FWC made changes to the 2016 bay scallop season in waters off Gulf County. All waters west of St. Vincent Island through the west bank of the Mexico Beach Canal in Bay County will be open Aug. 22 through Sept. 5 (Labor Day), and will close to harvest Sept. 6. The daily bag limit in this area will be reduced to 40 scallops per person or 200 per vessel, whichever is less.
Regulations have not changed for all open areas from St. Vincent Island through the Pasco-Hernando county line. The season will remain open June 25 through Sept. 24 and the daily bag limit remains 2 gallons of whole bay scallops in the shell or one pint of meat per person with a maximum of 10 gallons of whole bay scallops in the shell or ½ gallon bay scallop meat per vessel.
Links for more information:
Bay Scallops []

Gag - 4-county region

Action: Recreational harvest in 4-county region closes July 1
Information: The recreational gag grouper season in state waters off Franklin, Wakulla, Taylor and Jefferson counties closes July 1, with the last day of harvest being June 30.
All other state and all federal Gulf of Mexico waters opened to recreational harvest June 1 and will remain open throughDec. 31, closing Jan. 1, 2017.
Monroe County follows Atlantic regulations and is open fromMay 1-Dec. 31.
The size limit for gag in Gulf state and federal waters is 24-inches total length and the daily bag limit is two fish per person within the four fish grouper aggregate bag limit.
Links for more information:
Grouper []

Red Snapper - Gulf

Action: State recreational season continues through July 10
Information: Recreational season in state waters will remain open daily through July 10. The season will reopen Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in September and October, and on Labor Day.
The recreational season in Gulf federal waters was June 1-11 for private anglers and is June 1 through July 16 for federally permitted for-hire vessels such as charter boats and head boats.
Links for more information:
Snapper []

Spiny Lobster Sport Season

Action: July 27-28 recreational season
Information: Spiny lobster will be open to recreational harvest in state waters July 27 and 28 for the sport season and will open for regular recreational and commercial harvest Aug. 6.
During the 2-day sport season, the recreational daily bag and on-the-water possession limit is 6 per person in Monroe County and Biscayne National Park, and is 12 per person in all other areas in Florida. Off the water, the possession limit is equal to the daily bag limit on the first day and is double the daily bag limit on the second day.
Want to take an extra spiny lobster per day during the sport season? Participate in the Lionfish Challenge. Remove 50 or more lionfish from Florida waters before the sport season to qualify. See below for more information.
Spiny lobster must be measured in the water and must have a carapace larger than 3 inches. The carapace is measured beginning at the forward edge between the rostral horns, excluding any soft tissue, and proceeding along the middle to the rear edge of the carapace.
Night diving for spiny lobster is prohibited during the sport season in state waters off Monroe County.
Harvest is prohibited in John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park during the sport season and in Everglades National Park, Dry Tortugas National Park, Biscayne Bay, the lobster sanctuary in Card Sound and the no-take areas of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary during both the 2-day sport season and the regular season.
Links for more information:
Spiny Lobster []
Spiny Lobster measurement

Lionfish Challenge

Action: Remove 50 lionfish, get rewarded
Information: Remove 50 or more lionfish between Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day (May 14, 2016) and the end of September to qualify for the FWC’s Lionfish Challenge. The person who “checks in” the most lionfish will be crowned Florida’s Lionfish King or Queen. Visit and click on “Lionfish Challenge” to learn more.
Links for more information:
Lionfish Challenge []

Lionfish Panhandle Pilot Program

Action: Program in 7-county region focuses on lionfish removal
Information: For every 100 lionfish harvested from Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Bay, Gulf and Franklin counties, between May 2016 and May 2017, the harvester will be eligible to receive a tag allowing them to take either an extra legal-sized red grouper or cobia over the bag limit from state waters. The state will issue 100 red grouper and 30 cobia tags in total to successful participants in the pilot program. In addition, the first 10 persons or groups that harvests 500 or more lionfish during this one-year period will be given the opportunity to have an artificial reef named after them.
Links for more information:


Commission Meeting
Bay Scallops
Gag – Gulf
Red Snapper – Gulf
Spiny Lobster Sport Season
Lionfish Challenge
Lionfish Panhandle Pilot Program



State waters are from shore to 9 nautical miles in the Gulf and from shore to 3 nautical miles in the Atlantic.
July 1 –
July 11 –
July 27-28 –
Aug 1 –
Triggerfish, gray (Gulf) opens (this season opening may change. Please check website for updates)
Aug. 6 –
Aug. 10-19 –
Aug. 20-29 –

spiny lobster
Take 50 lionfish before spiny lobster sport season and get an extra spiny lobster per day in addition to your bag limit.



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