Biscayne National Park: Spearfishing and Lobster Mini-Season
Tuesday, September 17, 2019
Posted by: Rachelle Reimers
You may be aware that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is holding a Public Meeting in Cape Canaveral, Florida on October 2nd and 3rd to present their final recommendations on diving activities in Biscayne National Park (BNP). The recommendations for BNP are currently scheduled for presentation on October 2.
To date, FWC’s recommendations for Biscayne National Park have included prohibiting spear fishing on scuba or prohibiting trigger devices, and eliminating the two-day mini-lobster season in the Park. FWC introduced these two diving-related regulations as part of their Fisheries Management Plan for BNP.
IMPORTANTLY, FWC HAS NO DATA TO CORROBORATE THEIR PLAN FOR RESTRICTING EITHER SPEAR FISHING OR THE TWO-DAY MINI-LOBSTER SEASON.
UNLIKE FOR DIVING, FWC HAS NO SPECIAL PLANS TO RESTRICT HOOK AND LINE FISHING ACTIVITIES. DEMA believes FWC sees this as an opportunity to target and restrict diving activities, while placing the burden on divers for reaching FWC’s goal of increasing the size and abundance of fishery species in the Park by 20%. Within their own presentation, FWC clearly states that the issues of management of the Park are related to (a) the Park’s proximity to urban areas, (b) reduced water quality, (c) marine debris, (d) vessel groundings and (e) fishing pressure. Fish size and species abundance in Biscayne National Park are not related to diving activities, and certainly not to selective activities such as spear fishing.
DEMA strongly urges divers and diving professionals to attend the FWC Public Meeting scheduled for October 2nd in Cape Canaveral and voice that diving restrictions are not warranted, and restrictions to spearfishing and the lobster mini-season should only be enacted if similar restrictions are placed on hook and line fishing. IF DIVERS DO NOT ATTEND THIS MEETING FWC WILL ASSUME THAT THERE ARE NO OBJECTIONS TO THESE RESTRICTIONS. PLEASE ENCOURAGE ALL DIVERS AND YOUR DIVING CUSTOMERS TO ATTEND!
If you are unable to attend the October 2nd FWC meeting, write directly to the Fish and Wildlife Commission BEFORE OCTOBER 2nd and ask them to remove these unnecessary restrictions on vital diving activities in the Park. Send your written comments directly to: Marine@MyFWC.com and Commissioners@MyFWC.com.
DEMA has already provided a letter to FWC outlining our concerns. Please feel free to use DEMA's comments to assist in writing your own to the Commission.