- < June 4-5, 2011 - The tiny son of a gun bit me!
- June 11-12, 2011 - Thank God they got it wrong this weekend! >
Well, the FWC met for 2 days on June 8th and 9th, 2011 and not only had a changing of the guard with a new chairman and vice chairman, but made quite a few other decisions. Most importantly for Florida spearos and fishermen are the changes in the Permit, Florida and African Pompano bag, size and gear limitations. You might need to take your Captain's course to be able to identify the new Special Permit Zones (SPZ's) that they have apparently approved wherein anglers (both rod/reel and spear) will have to obey different bag limits as opposed to state and federal waters that are outside those SPZ's. If (more like when) ratified, the changes are not expected to take effect until August 31, 2011, but I think it will take that long for the SPZ's to be mapped out so that even the officials can understand them (not that understanding the statutes is actually any kind of prerequsite for them).
They aren't removing spearing from the allowed gear as so many of us feared was their intention when the statutes were first announced but they appear determined to make it so confusing as to what you can catch where that they will be able to accuse and prosecute people based on the confusion factor alone. With Special Permit Zones, for which you will obviously need "special" (most likely spelled e-x-p-e-n-s-i-v-e) permits and different bag limits within those SPZ's as opposed to general federal waters and the fact that those SPZ's sound like they're going to be multiple separate areas, it's very likely that some people will get in trouble without even realizing they're doing any thing wrong.
It's my opinion that the spirit of the word "recreational" in "recreational fisherman" is intended to mean that they (we) are not professionals. So why is it that they insist on creating these zones that you will either require special map chips for your GPS (assuming they're even available when these zones go into effect) or you will have to be some old salt who is able to navigate by sextant to be able to figure out when you might actually be in one of these SPZ's as well as having to keep track of which bag and size limits you will have to follow even if you can figure out where you're standing (or fishing).
You can read the entire agenda here but be warned, you may need to have your attorney present at the reading...