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REGULATORY ALERT - Florida Lionfish Recreational Regulations

Monday, June 30, 2014   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Rachelle Reimers
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REGULATORY ALERT - Florida Lionfish Recreational Regulations

 

 

On June 18, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) enacted new rules which take effect on August 1 regarding the taking of Lionfish in that state.  The new rules allow rebreather use and with some restrictions, spearing lionfish in areas otherwise prohibiting spear fishing.  The new rules can be found here.

 

DEMA has worked diligently with FWC to help ease the licensing requirements and equipment use for taking lionfish so that divers could assist in keeping the populations of this invasive species in check.  Lionfish threaten Florida's saltwater fish and wildlife and FWC encourages snorkel and scuba divers, anglers and commercial harvesters to remove lionfish in Florida waters to limit the negative impacts to native marine life and ecosystems caused by this prolific species.

 

Lionfish Management Changes

Among the new FWC rules are several management changes, all of which go into effect August 1:

  • No daily bag limit in Gulf State or Atlantic State waters;
  • No minimum size limit in Gulf State or Atlantic State waters;
  • Prohibiting the importation of live lionfish;
  • Allowing the harvest of lionfish when diving with a rebreather; and
  • Increasing opportunities that will allow participants in approved tournaments and other organized events to spear lionfish or other invasive species in areas where spearfishing is not allowed. This will be done through a permitting system.

Licensing

A recreational fishing license is NOT required for recreational fishers targeting lionfish while using a pole spear, a Hawaiian Sling, a handheld net or any spearing device that is specifically designed and marketed exclusively for lionfish.

 

A recreational fishing license (unless exempt) is required for all other methods of harvesting lionfish including hook and line.

 

The sale of commercially harvested lionfish requires a saltwater products license.

 

A permit is required to harvest lionfish in the no-take zones of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Permits are issued by the Sanctuary following training given by the Sanctuary and the Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF).

 

Gear Requirements

Legal Gear: hook and line, spear, hand-held nets and any otherwise legal harvest gear

 

REGARDLESS OF THESE MANAGEMENT CHANGES PLEASE NOTE THAT SPEARS MAY NOT BE USED:

  • Within 100 yards of a public swimming beach, any commercial or public fishing pier, or any part of a bridge from which public fishing is allowed.
  • Within 100 feet of any part of a jetty that is above the surface of the sea - except for the last 500 yards of a jetty that extends more than 1,500 yards from the shoreline.
  • In Monroe County from Long Key north to the Miami-Dade County line.
  • In any body of water under the jurisdiction of the Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Recreation and Parks (Florida Park Service). Possession of spearfishing equipment is prohibited in these areas, unless it is unloaded and properly stored.

Other spearfishing rules may apply under Special Acts of Local Application.  

 

Harvest by hand-held nets is allowed in all of these situations.

 

The FWC and DEMA encourage all dive store owners to involve their customers in helping to learn more about and reduce the populations of lionfish.  Stores can request FREE copies of the FWC Lionfish Brochure by sending their mailing address and requested number of brochures to Saltwater@MyFWC.com.  FWC will send you the newest Lionfish brochure, packed with information on the lionfish invasion. The brochure can be seen here: Lionfish Brochure

 

For more information contact the FWC or see the rules at www.MyFWC.com.

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