Tag Archives: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Shark fins seized from shrimp boat off Key West

Florida wildlife officers made a grisly discovery aboard a Key West shrimp boat this week: dozens of pairs of dismembered shark fins. The boat was discovered about 20 miles north of the island Wednesday night, an indication illegal finning still occurs in Florida waters despite being banned more than 16 years ago. Buying and selling fins remains legal in most states, fueling a practice that targets some of the world’s biggest and longest-lived sharks, which are also among the planet’s oldest species. The boat was stopped by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers, who alerted the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service. FWC referred questions to NOAA, who declined to release details, saying it was too soon in the investigation. click here to read the story  07:49

Bully-net lobster fishermen can get new commercial status

A new Florida commercial lobster license for bully-netters will come with a “Respectful Bully Netting” outreach campaign. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission members on Feb. 8 approved creation of a new bully-net endorsement for people who have a commercial endorsement for lobster.“Conflicts between waterfront homeowners and bully-netters” was cited as one concern about expanding the commercial lobster industry to include the netting technique. The increased use of bully nets for commercial lobstering “allows opportunities for young or new fishers and preserves the culture of participation in the Keys commercial lobster fishery”. Continue reading the story here 14:45

Will Florida allow goliath grouper fishing?

State wildlife officials will discuss the fish’s fate when the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) meets Feb. 8-10 in Crystal River. There is no specific proposal yet to allow the goliath’s harvest. At Wednesday’s meeting, FWC staff will provide the commission a review of the biology and recently-completed study of the fish’s population. “This is a review and discussion on the history, biology and recent stock assessment,” Amanda Nalley, an FWC spokeswoman said by email. “FWC will be asking the Commission whether or not staff should pursue gathering further public input on potential management changes, including the possibility of allowing some kind of limited harvest.” Read the story here 10:57

New rules for commercial spiny lobster bully-netting get final vote

If given final approval by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, bully-netting would become a more regulated sector within the state season on spiny lobster but would remain open to new commercial fishers. The bully-netting issue now is included on the consent agenda for the FWC’s Feb. 8 and 9 meeting in Crystal River, following preliminary approval at a November meeting.The eight-month lobster season runs Aug. 6 through March 31. No new permits, if approved, would be issued for the season now under way. “Bully-netting would stay open-access, meaning it’s not limited just to people doing it now,” said Amanda Nalley, spokeswoman for FWC’s Marine Fisheries office. The night-fishing technique, using a spotlight and long-handled net to catch lobster on the bottom, “has a history of allowing people to enter the fishery at a low cost, and the commission wants to keep that,” Read the story here 11:11

81 False killer whales die off South Florida coast

81 false killer whales have died after stranding themselves off the South Florida coast. NOAA announced the grim news on Monday afternoon. NOAA initially reported that 95 false killer whales were stranded in South Florida. Then on Monday afternoon, NOAA Fish Southeast tweeted that 81 whales had died and also said the whales were at a remote location off of Hog Key in the Everglades. One whale was seen alive on Monday and 13 others are unaccounted for, NOAA Fish Southeast said on Twitter on Monday afternoon. The National Park Service has closed the area around the whale stranding location. The National Park Service is asking that aircraft not fly over the area and that boats stay away from the area. Read the rest here 15:14

Marathon fisherman pinched for untagged lobster traps, bad bouy charges

fishbust-lobstertrapsA Marathon commercial fisherman faces more than 130 conservation counts after being charged with fishing illegal lobster traps. Franklin Garcia Jimenez, 40, was arrested before dawn Tuesday as part of a trap-tag case filed by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers. Garcia is charged with “fishing more than 50 working, untagged traps,” agency information Officer Bobby Dube said. FWC Investigator Danielle Munkelt and Officer Adam Garrison also filed counts accusing Garcia of using buoys that were painted with the wrong colors and buoys that do not meet legal size requirements. All of the 136 counts are misdemeanors. Garcia posted a $68,000 bond and was released from the Monroe County jail Thursday. Read the rest here 20:45

Boat captain arrested in lobster case

fwc-logoA Marathon commercial fisherman wanted by state wildlife officers for allegedly fishing for lobster with untagged traps turned himself in Thursday after returning from Cuba. Ricardo Hernandez, 52, faces 71 misdemeanor conservation violations. Earlier this month, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers issued arrest warrants for Hernandez and his mates after surveilling their fishing boat for two months, said FWC Officer Bobby Dube. When the warrants were issued, FWC officers discovered he was in Cuba. Mate Juan Miguel Exposito-Carralero, 46, was also charged with 71 misdemeanor counts. He was arrested last week. Hernandez returned from Cuba recently and turned himself in at the jail, said FWC Capt. David Dipre. The case marks a shift in how some poachers are reacting to the FWC as well as the Florida Keys Commercial Fishing Association’s efforts to quelch trap robbing — they moved to fishing with untagged traps.  Read the rest here 09:13

Wanted fisherman fled to Cuba

Spiny lobsterA Marathon trap fisherman accused of using dozens of untagged traps apparently fled to Cuba following a two-month investigation into illegal lobster fishing, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the State Attorney’s Office.  FWC officers served a warrant on Nov. 4 after surveilling the vessel, said FWC officer Bobby Dube.  In all, 19 untagged traps were fished, according to the FWC. Some traps were also improperly numbered, records state. A mate aboard the vessel — Juan Miguel Exposito-Carralero, 46 — was charged with 71 misdemeanor counts of fishing illegal traps when FWC officers converged on the vessel after it was returning to port, said Assistant State Attorney Christina Cory. The captain that the FWC had been targeting, Ricardo Hernandez, 52, was not on the vessel at the time and happened to be in Cuba, Dube said. It does not appear he fled, but he left before the warrant was served, Cory added.  The case marks a shift in how some poachers are reacting to the FWC as well as the Florida Keys Commercial Fishing Association’s efforts to quelch trap robbing, said the latter association’s executive director Bill Kelly. Read the story here 08:22

Apalachicola Bay commercial oyster bag limit lowered to 3 – Oyster reefs ‘in worse shape’

107680-004-B54E21CCThe commercial bag limit for oysters in Apalachicola Bay will be lowered to three bags per harvester during the winter season, Sept. 1 through May 31. Several other oyster conservation measures implemented previously will also continue this winter season. These changes are effective in all of Apalachicola Bay, including all waters of Indian Lagoon in Gulf County. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) began implementing conservation measures in the fall of 2014 in an effort to help the Apalachicola Bay oyster population recover from the effects of low river flow. Apalachicola Bay oyster populations have significantly declined in recent years due to lack of sufficient fresh water flows in the Apalachicola River. Read the post here Oyster reefs ‘in worse shape’ – “We’re in worse shape. We’ve got to have river flow, that’s the first thing.” None of the SMARRT leadership seated at the front table disputed Estes’ findings. “I couldn’t get 100 legal oysters from there, and I moved around,” said SMARRT chair Shannon Hartsfield, referring to Dry Bar North and Green Point, reefs in the western portion of the bay, which in three separate surveys this summer yielded no more than 15 bags per acre to FWC surveyors. Read the article here 13:12

 

Fishermen, scientists split on closures of triggerfish, amberjack

triggerfishOn any given day, charter boat captain Jeff Lassiter and his customers will catch dozens of gray triggerfish. Then they’ll toss them back in the water. “They’re dang near a nuisance,” But just two weeks before the scheduled Aug. 1 reopening date, national and state fishing officials changed their minds. Because of overfishing, NOAA Fisheries decided not to reopen triggerfish in federal waters this year, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) elected to follow suit. Officials said anglers already had met the allowable catch quota for the year, and to keep going would jeopardize the overall sustainability of the stock. NOAA also opted to not reopen amberjack for the same reasons, which means head boats and charter boat captains, which all have federal permits, will not be able to take customers out to fish for either species. Read the rest here 12:13

Lobster poacher jumps into the water, challenges game wardens to come and get him. They waited!

cantillosOne defendant in a lobster-poaching case Saturday reportedly threw his cell phone into the ocean at Bahia Honda, jumped into the ocean and challenged state officers “to come in the water and get him.” A second man booked in the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission case ran from officers and hid for three hours before trying to return to his truck. He found that FWC Officer Adam Garrison was willing to outwait him. Miami residents Carlos M. Duran-Cantillo, 37, and Karel Cantillo-Martinez, 38, face multiple conservation counts after FWC officers charged them with possession of eight , all taken in a closed season. Five of the tails were undersized. Both also were charged with resisting arrest without violence and littering. Read the rest here 11:30

Seminar in Marathon Fla. looks at spiny lobster research

Spiny lobsterSome top experts on spiny lobster will meet Wednesday in Marathon to discuss the latest research on the crustacean, which is the top-grossing marine species in the Florida Keys generating $70 million a year to the local economy. The Keys waters account for nearly 90 percent of the spiny lobster harvest in the United States. A robust Asian market and a steady catch has made spiny lobster fishery the most lucrative in the Keys. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is hosting the all-day seminar Wednesday as a way to put out the latest research on spiny lobster to the local commercial fishermen and to the public, FWC lobster biologist Tom Matthews said. Bill Kelly, the executive director of the Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen’s Association, said there is a need for new science on the fishery, as the current science used to make regulations is “outdated and goes back to the 1990s.” Read the story here 11:57

Lobster-trap report draws ire from Florida Keys commercial lobster fishermen

Spiny lobsterFlorida Keys commercial lobster fishermen bristled at a report on traps in protected marine areas being presented at this week’s South Atlantic Fishery Management Council meeting. The report on small no-trapping areas created to safeguard spots with branching elkhorn or staghorn corals is scheduled for a Spiny Lobster Committee meeting at 9:30 a.m. Thursday in Cocoa Beach. “We worked [with fishery regulators] to develop these 60 coral protection areas,” said Ernie Piton, president of the Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen’s Association. “We even proposed more than they asked for.” Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission surveys at selected coral protection zones in 2014 and 2015 logged traps and parts of traps spotted in the zones, most of which are unmarked by warning buoys and do not appear on most nautical charts. “Some of the older gentlemen in our industry have been doing this 30 or 40 years and they don’t use GPS; they go by sight,” Piton said. Read the rest here 09:36

FF & Wildlife Conservation Commission considers alternatives to closure of St. Joseph Bay scallop harvesting

Following a public meeting Wednesday the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is taking under consideration alternatives to closure of St. Joseph Bay to scallop harvesting. One emphasis is that the closure involves only closure to scallop harvesting; all other water activities would not be impacted. A spokeswoman with the FWC said this morning that staff and researchers were digesting the feedback from last night’s meeting and could make a decision on next steps within days. She emphasized that no final decision on closure of the bay has been made, though that remains the direction the FWC is leaning. “We wanted to try to get ahead of this and make the public aware of the situation,” she said. “We had a good discussion.” Read the rest here 12:00

Federal and state fishery managers busy with half a dozen hearings, meetings in the Keys in February

A frenetic February features several fishery forums in the . The status of mutton snapper, barracuda, hogfish, mackerel and sea anemones will be reviewed for public comment at a slate of six Keys sessions hosted by state and federal fish-management agencies. A recommended reduction in mutton snapper harvests will be a prime topic at two sessions, held jointly by the federal South Atlantic Fishery Management Council and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Rule changes may affect both state and federal waters. Read the article here 13:06

20 years after gill net ban, poaching persists along west coast

It was just after midnight Monday when two commercial fisherman saw the blue lights of law enforcement and made a break for it near the mouth of the Manatee River. The water chase was brief, wildlife officers say, because in the end the fisherman got tangled up in their own illegal net. It’s been 20 years since Florida voters, 72 percent of the vote, approved a constitutional amendment banning the use of gill nets within nine miles of Florida’s Gulf Coast and three miles of the Atlantic Coast. The ban was hotly contested and ultimately put out of business about 1,500 commercial fishermen whose livelihood depended on the practice. Read the article here 20:34

Lobster fisherman arrested. Again!

handcuffs_1A Summerland Key fisherman arrested in October 2014 for lobster fishing with hundreds of illegal traps was arrested again Thursday for lying on a wildlife form about his marine violation history, according to court records. David Lee Boggs, 51, was ultimately charged with more than 100 counts of misdemeanor fishing without proper tags. Boggs was initially found to be fishing with about 100 untagged traps, but later confessed to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers that he had more in the water that needed to be removed,,, Read the article here 10:04

Marathon man jailed for 121 illegal lobster – Second man escaped by jumping off boat

14NGU.AuHeEmMore than 100 marine-resource conservation counts were filed against a Marathon man late Monday after law officers surprised a boat making a nocturnal landing. Jose Carlos Acosta Arias, 37, was carrying a mesh bag with 77 wrung lobster tails when he stepped off a “blacked-out vessel” near the oceanside of 74th Street in Marathon. A second man aboard the small boat jumped overboard and escaped by swimming away. The man’s identity is known and warrants for his arrest were being filed, FWC Officer Bobby Dube said. Read the rest here 12:33

Biscayne National Park’s General Management Plan – No-fishing zone no solution to coral loss

Were Charles Dickens alive today, it’s possible that the drama surrounding the inclusion of a no-fishing zone in Biscayne National Park’s General Management Plan (GMP) could be mistaken as part of the inspiration for his great story A Tale of Two Cities. Dickens’ famous opening sentence from that novel is: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” But the way that the (NPS) and its activist allies talk about the no-fishing zone seems to reflect part of the rest of that opening line: “It was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness.” Read the rest here 11:02

FWC to finalize barracuda rules

State fishery managers will give final approval this week to fishing regulations that will finally set commercial bag limits on barracuda. The vote comes after Florida Keys fishing guides, captains and recreational anglers have been calling for years for commercial limits on what they call one of the most important flats fish. Currently there is no limit on the harvest of barracuda. There is a two-fish-per-day recreational bag limit. Read the rest here 10:16

Field Hearing Highlights Draconian Rejection of Science, Local Stakeholder Input with National Park Service’s Plan for Biscayne Bay

Today, the House Committee on Natural Resources and the House Small Business Committee held a joint field hearing in Homestead, Florida, on the National Park Service’s (NPS) General Management Plan (GMP) for Biscayne National Park released in June 2015.  The GMP, which includes a Marine Reserve Zone (MRZ) that would be closed to all commercial and recreational fishing, conflicts with the position of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and the recommendations of the park’s own stakeholder working group.  Read the rest here 16:06

Florida FWC requests public feedback at workshops around the state

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is hosting several workshops across the state, including the two in the Florida Keys, to gather input and develop a better understanding of the public’s views on marine fisheries issues. Groups that might be interested in participating include commercial and recreational fishers, wholesale dealers, those in the tourism industry, fishing guides and divers, FWC spokeswoman Bekah Nelson said. Read the rest here 08:00

FWC approves lobster incentive to harvest lionfish

Lionfish are pretty to look at but that’s about it says commercial fisherman Rachel Bowman. “The lionfish are gorgeous but extremely detrimental to our environment not picky eaters. A lionfish can consume anything 2 inches smaller than itself,” says Bowman. And that healthy appetite, says Bowman, may one day pose a threat to commercial fishing. She says, “Only a matter of time before snapper, grouper and lobster show a decline because of lionfish.” The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says man is the lionfish’s best predator. Read the rest here 18:39

FWC likely to put limits on harvest of barricuda

Some Florida Keys fishing guides and dive operators contend increased harvest pressure on the toothy predators have noticeably reduced barracuda numbers. “Barracuda are being caught big-time, and that’s a fact,” longtime Upper Keys dive operator Spencer Slate said Friday. “They’re definitely being overfished.” The Lower Keys Guides Association supports most of the proposed rules, but wants “the commercial daily limit be 20 fish per day per vessel; not 20 per person.” Read the rest here 11:13

A Week in the Life – Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Law Enforcement Weekly Report

This report represents some events the FWC handled over the past week; however, it does not include all actions taken by the Division of Law Enforcement. The FWC Offshore Patrol Vessel Vigilance made its maiden voyage out of Destin.  On its first patrol, officers attempted to stop a vessel in federal waters about 10.5 miles south of the Destin Pass.  When they approached, the officers noticed the suspect vessel turn and began throwing red snapper from the boat. Lots more. Read the rest here 09:19

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission eases lobster dive regulations

Things are about to get easier for commercial lobster divers looking to expand or sell their business. New Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission rules set to go into effect July 1 will allow commercial lobster divers to sell their licenses to people other than immediate family members, which is currently prohibited. Bill Kelly, executive director of the Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen’s Association, said the rule changes are a welcome way to promote fairness across the fishery. Read the rest here 11:50

 

Florida Key’s Illegal fish case continued

A Key West charter boat captain’s change of plea will be heard on April 21 in Plantation Key after a scheduling conflict continued the matter last week. Wickers and four other men were charged in the undercover Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission investigation into the illegal sale of finfish and lobster by charter and commercial fishermen. Read the rest here 11:18

Gulf reef fish anglers – You wanted it! You got it! Welcome To The Machine.

Attention Gulf reef fish anglers (a little tribute tune!) : You’ve asked for better data and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has listened and taken action. Now the FWC needs your help. Signing up to participate in the Gulf Reef Fish Survey becomes mandatory April 1, so sign up today. The easy, no-cost process will help the FWC paint a clearer picture of how many people are targeting Gulf reef fish, like red snapper and gag grouper, and what anglers are seeing on the water. Read the rest here 10:19

Key West: Lobster traps limits not well received

The idea of reducing the number of spiny lobster traps as a way to ease fishing pressure on the Florida Keys’ most lucrative commercial fishery did not go over well at a meeting of state federal fishery managers Monday in Key West. The group discussed three possible actions: closing the season early; embarking on a more aggressive trap reduction program; and exempting the spiny lobster fishery from annual quotas. The proposal that received the most vocal opposition was more aggressively reducing the number of traps. Read the rest here 08:09

Loophole allows illegal fishing harvests

A rowboat, kayak or inflatable raft should not classify as a licensed commercial fishing boat, say state fishery regulators. Current state laws on qualifying for certain commercial fishing licenses include a “loophole” that needs to be closed, according to a commercial fishing group and staff with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. “Right now it’s far too easy to get a [restricted-species endorsement] falsely,” said Bill Kelly, executive director of the Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen’s Association.  Read the rest here 17:19