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Protecting Pelicans & Springs: July FWC Commission Meeting

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) met in St. Petersburg, Florida this week to safeguard Florida’s waterways and wildlife. Two new rules concerning a Springs Protection Zone near Weeki Wachee State Park and fishing regulations at Skyway Fishing Pier State Park were approved by FWC Commissioners.

FWC approved a rule to protect the Weeki Wachee River and its spring run. The rule restricts the beaching, anchoring, and mooring of vessels from the Weeki Wachee State Park to the Rogers Park Boat Ramp. The new rule will preserve the environment while still allowing public access to the spring and river. Most tubes and rafts are not affected by this rule.

In response to pelican fishing line entanglements, FWC also made some changes to fishing regulations at Skyway Fishing Pier State Park. Starting October 1, 2023, anglers must show proof of completing an annual education requirement. In addition, from November 15 to March 15 each year certain types of fishing gear with multiple hooks are not allowed and anglers can only use a maximum of two rods at a time. These changes will protect seabirds from getting caught in fishing gear while still allowing people to enjoy fishing at the pier. FWC will monitor how well these rules work and may make further changes in the future if needed.

Other changes include recreational fishing closures for red grouper and greater amberjack. In the Gulf of Mexico, except for areas off Monroe County, the red grouper closure will begin on July 21 and continue until the end of the year to ensure there are enough for future fishing. As for greater amberjack in the Gulf of Mexico’s state waters, the recreational season will only be open from August 1 to August 25, following the same dates as the federal season in the Gulf.

For more information, visit FWC’s website.

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