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Entries in FWC (66)

Tuesday
Aug012017

More than 5,000 Lionfish Removed From Florida Waters

Already this year, more than 5,000 invasive lionfish have been removed from Florida waters as part of the annual  campaign that runs from Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day on May 20 and ends Sept. 4.

"There’s still plenty of time to compete in this year’s Lionfish Challenge," said the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

"Over 5,000 lionfish have been removed from Florida waters thanks to the program, including nearly 3,700 recreational fish removals and more than 1,200 pounds commercially (equates to about 1,400 fish)."

The challenge rewards lionfish harvesters with prizes such as T-shirts, tumblers, heat packs for stings, pole spears, an extra spiny lobster per day during the two-day sport season, and much more. It only takes 25 lionfish (or 25 pounds commercially) to qualify for the program and the more lionfish you enter, the more prizes you will receive. Plus, all participants are entered into a raffle to win even more prizes such as Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium gift bags, ZombieStickz pole spears and customized ZooKeeper Lionfish Containment Units.

The persons with the most lionfish at the end of the competition will be crowned the Lionfish King or Queen (recreational category) and the Commercial Champion at the Lionfish Safari tournament in St. Petersburg the weekend of Sept. 9.

To find out how to participate in the challenge, go here.

Sunday
Jun252017

Florida Anglers Asked to Help Monitor Fish Health, Report Kills

With summer here, now more than any other time of year, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) needs your help in monitoring fish health by tracking marine and freshwater fish kills in Florida.

Hot weather can cause fish kills, in part because warm water holds less oxygen than cold water. In addition, a lack of rain during hot-weather months can lower water level in lakes and ponds, resulting in poor water quality, increased density of animals and faster use of dissolved oxygen.

Heavy rains can compound the situation by suspending sediments in the water column and by washing vegetation, such as leaves and grass clippings, into the system where they  decompose, burning up oxygen.

Sudden temperature fluctuations or extreme temperatures, meanwhile, can result in fish kills any time of the year. The good news is that most natural water bodies are resilient to fish kill events.

FWC scientists monitor and document these kills and related diseases, as well as other aquatic animal health issues and associated environmental events.

“The public’s involvement is critical to locate, monitor and understand the extent of fish kills. Reporting observations to the hotline ensures a coordinated response to incidents and alleviates public concern,” said Theresa Cody, associate research scientist. “All the data collected from fish kill events are used in conjunction with directed research to further understand the causes of fish kills and disease incidences.”

You can report fish kills at MyFWC.com/FishKill or by calling the FWC Fish Kill Hotline at 800-636-0511. You also can submit a report through the “FWC Reporter” app on your iOS or Android mobile devices. It is not necessary to report fish kills in man-made retention or private ponds to the FWC. The Fish Kill Hotline is sponsored in part by a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program grant.

Friday
Jun092017

Volunteer Anglers Needed for FWC Barotrauma Tool Study

Do you fish for reef fish like snapper or grouper?

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is seeking volunteer anglers and charter/headboat captains to take part in a descending-device citizen science study. Descending devices are tools used to recompress the swim bladder and increase a fish’s chance of survival when it cannot be kept and is experiencing barotrauma (swim bladder expansion when a fish is brought up from depths greater than 50 feet). Signs of barotrauma include the stomach coming out of the mouth, bulging eyes, bloated belly and distended intestines.

As a citizen science partner, you will test a descending device and help identify the benefits and drawbacks of using this tool when fishing in deeper waters. The information from all participants will be pooled to identify why some anglers might not use these tools. Your valuable feedback will be used to inform and improve efforts to increase the survival of caught and released reef fish.

To participate, prospective participants must first answer general screening questions. Randomly-selected participants will then watch a tutorial on descending devices, complete an initial evaluation, and test a descending device during the trial period from July 1 through Sept. 30. When the trial period ends, participants must complete a detailed post-evaluation about their experience by Oct. 15. Preliminary results of the evaluation will be available in late 2017.

To apply for an opportunity to participate in this study, visit www.surveymonkey.com/r/XK55MJV.  To learn more about barotrauma, visit YouTube channel at MyFWC.com/SaltwaterFishing.  For additional information, call 850-487-0554 or email Marine@MyFWC.com.

Wednesday
May242017

Opening of Florida's Newest Fishery Behind Schedule

2011 construction of Fellsmere. Photo by Treasure Coast NewspapersFlorida's newest bass fishery didn't open to the public as expected this past spring, and when 10,000-acre Fellsmere Water Management Area will be accessible remains uncertain. That's because the ramp's location and rules about public access remain undetermined.

"We are evaluating three sites at this time on district property and continue to consider one location on the Fellsmere Joint Venture property," said Ed Garland, spokesman for the St. Johns Water Management District.

"However, the district is committed to choosing a location that will offer public access. The district continues to hear from the public on this issue at regularly scheduled southern recreation meetings and additionally will hear from the public at a governing board meeting before any plan is final."

East of Stick Marsh-Farm 13, a renowned 6,000-acre bass fishery, Fellsmere was transformed from agricultural lands once owned by Sun-Ag Inc. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) enhanced the marshy area with 2,000 acres of prime fish habitat and spent about $1.4 million on stocking it with bass and bluegill.

In addition to providing bass fishing that should rival its neighbor, Fellsmere also will filter discharges from surrounding farms, reducing the need for discharges into Indian River Lagoon. It's the final piece of the district's upper basin project to restore a more natural flow to the river, lost decades ago when wetlands were drained for agriculture.

The draft recreation plan for the area says that Fellsmere will included a two-lane boat ramp with 24 vehicle/trailer parking spaces, 12 regular parking spaces, restrooms, a boarding dock, and picnic shelters. An overflow parking area will help accommodate small tournaments.

And as the site of the ramp remains undetermined, FWC and the district still are considering what regulations to impose. Options include making the Fellsmere catch-and-release only and prohibiting harvest for five years to establish a quality fishery.

Friday
May192017

Lionfish Hunters Wanted!

Attention all lionfish hunters: The 2017 Lionfish Challenge begins tomorrow, May 20, on Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day. Remember to register online at MyFWC.com/Lionfish or sign up in person at the Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day Festival at Plaza de Luna in Pensacola May 20-21.

The 2017 Lionfish Challenge rewards recreational and commercial lionfish harvesters for their removal efforts with prizes and incentives. Once registered, participants email photos of their first 25 qualifying lionfish (or electronic trip tickets totaling at least 25 pounds sold for commercial harvesters) to Lionfish@MyFWC.com. Be sure to include the harvester name, the date harvested and your signature in the photo (written on a piece of paper next to the fish for example). Recreational category participants must submit any lionfish harvested in excess of the initial 25 to a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC)-approved checkpoint (list of locations available at MyFWC.com/Lionfish by clicking on “Lionfish Challenge”) or FWC-sponsored lionfish tournament (FWC staff must be present to verify). Commercial participants can continue to submit trip tickets via email. All participants who have an active Saltwater Products License and have commercial lionfish sales within the past year will automatically be placed in the commercial category.

Rewards for recreational and commercial participants include:

  • A commemorative coin to validate membership.
  • An event T-shirt.
  • Lionfish Hall of Fame recognition on the MyFWC.com website.
  • If qualified before July 26, the opportunity to take an additional spiny lobster per day during the 2017 sport season (July 26-27). Participants must have commemorative coin as proof of participation.

Participants may also qualify for additional prizes such as a reusable lionfish sting heat pack, customized neck gaiter, customized tumbler, and pole spear with grip kit.

The recreational and commercial harvesters who check in the most lionfish will be crowned Florida’s Lionfish King or Queen and Florida’s Commercial Champion, and both will be recognized at the 2017 Lionfish Safari Sept. 10 in St. Petersburg.

Once you’ve registered, don’t forget to join the FWC in celebrating the third annual Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day (Saturday, May 20) by attending one of six statewide festivals and tournaments.

Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day (the first Saturday after Mother’s Day each year) raises awareness about lionfish; a nonnative, invasive species that has a potential negative impact on native species and habitat.

Pensacola Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day Festival and Tournament

The third annual Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day Festival will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 20-21 at Plaza de Luna, 900 S. Palafox St., Pensacola.

This event will include celebrity chef and fillet demonstrations, lionfish tastings, family-friendly games and activities, and more than 40 art, diving and conservation vendors.

 To participate in the tournament hosted by the Gulf Coast Lionfish Coalition, visit the Lionfish World Championship webpage at LionfishWorldChampionship.com.

 Check out the booths of our many sponsors including Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, Whole Foods Market, iHeartMedia, Coast Watch Alliance, Visit Pensacola, Escambia County Division of Marine Resources, Florida Sea Grant, the city of Pensacola, Navarre Beach Marine Science Station, tournament host Gulf Coast Lionfish Coalition, Guy Harvey Magazine, SHELLArt, Dive Rite, ZooKeeper and Dive Pros.

 Statewide lionfish events

Can’t make the Pensacola festival and tournament? Find an event near you by scrolling over “Event Info” at the top of ReefRangers.com and clicking on “Statewide Events.”

  • Lion Tamer Tournament – Panama City Beach.
  • Destin Lionfish Tournament – Destin.
  • Sebastian Lionfish Fest – Sebastian.
  • REEF Lionfish Workshop and Collection – Big Pine Key.
  • Northeast Florida Lionfish Blast – Jacksonville.
  • FSDA Lionfish Calcutta –St. Petersburg.
  • FWC Exotic Pet Amnesty Day – Sanford – May 6.

Look for event updates at MyFWC.com/Lionfish by clicking on “Lionfish Derbies and Events.”

 Questions?

Contact the FWC Division of Marine Fisheries Management at 850-487-0554. For more on FWC’s Pet Amnesty Day, or if you have an exotic pet and need help finding it a new home, visit MyFWC.com/WildlifeHabitats and click on “Nonnative Species” and “Exotic Pet Amnesty Program.”

 

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