The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has repealed two rules prohibiting spearing and using an artificial light while spearfishing or gigging in state waters off Collier County.
The Collier Board of County Commissioners sent a letter to the FWC in February requesting the change, which was prompted by the Jan. 13 hook-and-line capture of the first lionfish to be documented in state waters off the county. Lionfish are a nonnative invasive species that negatively impact Florida’s native fish and wildlife. Currently, the most effective method for lionfish control and removal is spearing and removal with hand-held nets. Lionfish are rarely caught by hook-and-line.
The repealed rules are just a few of the many Special Acts of Local Application that were put in place by the Florida Legislature, prior to creation of the FWC and one of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.
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.
Once the FWC repeal process is complete, spearfishing can resume in state waters off Collier County, and current statewide regulations on the use of spears will apply.
The spearfishing prohibition is also included in Florida Statute, and staff will work with the Florida Legislature to remove this language during the 2014 session.
For more on the proposal presented to Commissioners at this meeting, visit MyFWC.com/Commission and select “Commission Meetings.”
Logo courtesy Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission