Spearfishing allowed in Collier County state waters starting June 30
Monday, June 24, 2013
Media contact: Amanda Nalley, 850-410-4943
Starting June 30, saltwater species can be targeted with a spearing device in Collier County state waters for the first time in more than 60 years. The recent repeal of rules that prohibited spearing should facilitate the harvest of nonnative invasive lionfish that are negatively impacting Florida’s native fish and wildlife. Spearfishing is among the most effective methods for lionfish control and removal, along with the use of hand-held nets.
These changes were approved by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) at its April meeting when Commissioners repealed a rule that prohibited spearing and another rule that prohibited using an artificial light while spearfishing or gigging in Florida state waters off Collier County (from shore to 9 nautical miles).
The Collier Board of County Commissioners sent a letter to the FWC in February requesting these repeals shortly after the Jan. 13 hook-and-line capture of the first lionfish to be documented in state waters off the county.
The ban on spearing and using a light while spearfishing or gigging was put in place in the early 1950s, before the development of current statewide spearfishing regulations, and are just a few of the many Special Acts of Local Application that were put in place by the Florida Legislature, prior to creation of the FWC and one of its predecessors, the Marine Fisheries Commission.
All current statewide regulations on the use of spears will apply in state waters off Collier County.
Spearing is not allowed in freshwater or when targeting freshwater species; within 100 yards of a public swimming beach, any commercial or public fishing pier or any part of a bridge from which public fishing is allowed; within 100 feet of any part of a jetty that is above the water’s surface except for the last 500 yards of a jetty that extends more than 1,500 yards from the shoreline; in Monroe County from Long Key north to the Dade County line; and in any body of water under the jurisdiction of the Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Recreation and Parks.
Using powerheads, bangsticks and rebreathers is also not allowed.
The following species cannot be speared: billfish, spotted eagle ray, sturgeon, manta ray, sharks, bonefish, tarpon, goliath grouper, snook, blue crab, Nassau grouper, spotted seatrout, red drum, weakfish, stone crab, pompano, African pompano, permit, tripletail, lobster and many species of ornamental tropical fish such as surgeonfish, trumpetfish, angelfish, butterflyfish, porcupinefish, cornetfish, squirrelfish, trunkfish, damselfish, parrotfish, pipefish, seahorse, puffers and triggerfish, with the exception of gray and ocean triggerfish.
A recreational fishing license is not required for anyone targeting lionfish with hand-held nets, a pole spear, a Hawaiian sling or any spearing device that is specifically designed for harvesting lionfish. All other spearfishers must have a recreational fishing license, unless otherwise exempt from the requirement, and all regulations apply, including seasons, bag limits and size limits.
Learn more about Florida’s spearing rules at MyFWC.com/Fishing by clicking on “Recreational” and “Spearing.”