FWC simplifies Manatee County fishing regs


FORT MYERS -- The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission removed several outdated or redundant localized regulations in Gilchrist, Indian River and Manatee counties at its June 18 meeting in Fort Myers.

In Manatee County, seven Special Acts are slated to be removed, including:

• Gear limits for use within the county waters;

• Aggregate bag limits for saltwater fish on the Manatee River;

• Authorizing Manatee County to regulate finfish harvest within the county.

Statewide regulations now address gear use and give the FWC the authority to regulate the harvest of saltwater fish. Repealing these conflicting and redundant rules will help clarify Manatee County regulations, according to a FWC press release.

These changes go into effect as soon as possible.

The FWC has been working to streamline and clarify saltwater fishing rules since 2009 as part of a marine fisheries rule cleanup process. This includes reviewing existing localized rules known as Special Acts of Local Application and working with county governments to remove them if warranted. Many Special Acts were put in place before the Marine Fisheries Commission, one of the FWC's predecessor agencies, was created, and are no longer necessary due to more current statewide fishing management.

All three counties have been working with the FWC on the changes. The repeal of the Special Acts for these three counties is not expected to have any negative effects on Florida's fisheries.

In Gilchrist County, a Special Act providing for the year-round sale of saltwater fish as long as the seller has the proper licenses will be removed as statewide licensing provisions for the sale of saltwater products make this rule obsolete.

In Indian River County, three Special Acts will be removed, including ones about use of fishing gear in the Indian River and requiring permission from adjacent property owners to harvest shellfish. All three acts are more restrictive than statewide fishing regulations, and repealing them results in greater access and regulatory consistency.

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