FWC approves regional bay scallop seasons
At its February meeting near Tallahassee, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved regionally-specific bay scallop open season dates for 2018, including a change to the season for Levy, Citrus and Hernando counties that was proposed in December. The Commission also approved a trial bay scallop season in state waters off Pasco County in 2018.
The following regionally-specific bay scallop open seasons will be created by executive order for 2018 only:
- Franklin County through northwestern Taylor County (including Carrabelle, Lanark and St. Marks): July 1 through Sept. 24. This region includes all state waters from the westernmost point of St. Vincent Island in Franklin County to Rock Island near the mouth of the Fenholloway River in Taylor County.
The remaining portion of Taylor County and all of Dixie County (including Keaton Beach and the Steinhatchee area): the third Saturday in June (June 16) through Sept. 10. This region includes all state waters east of Rock Island near the mouth of the Fenholloway River in Taylor County and north of Alligator Pass Daybeacon #4 near the mouth of the Suwannee River in Levy County.
- Levy, Citrus and Hernando counties (including Cedar Key, Crystal River and Homosassa): July 1 through Sept. 24 (previously slated for July 10 through Sept. 10). This region includes all state waters south of Alligator Pass Daybeacon #4 near the mouth of the Suwannee River in Levy County and north of the Hernando – Pasco county line.
- St. Joseph Bay and Gulf County: Aug. 17 through Sept. 30. This region includes all state waters from the Mexico Beach Canal in Bay County to the westernmost point of St. Vincent Island in Franklin County.
- Pasco County: Establish a trial 10-day open season to run July 20-29. This region includes all state waters south of the Hernando – Pasco county line and north of the Anclote Key Lighthouse in northern Pinellas County, and includes all waters of the Anclote River.
These changes are for 2018 only. In late 2018 or early 2019, the FWC will consider setting the 2019 seasons for Gulf and Pasco counties, consider continuing the 2018 season structure for the remaining portions of the open scallop harvest area in 2019, and will work toward creating a more permanent season structure starting in 2020.
As the 2018 and 2019 seasons move forward, share your comments on what you would like to see for a future season structure at MyFWC.com/SaltwaterComments or by email at Marine@MyFWC.com. The FWC is very interested in understanding whether the public prefers regional differences in the season dates or if a consistent season across the harvest area is of greater value, as well as what season dates work best for various regions. Public feedback will be important for determining whether further changes are needed when making a decision about the long-term season dates.
For more information about bay scallops or to view the presentation given at the Commission meeting, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and select “Saltwater Fishing,” “Public Comments/Workshops,” “Comments,” and select the “February 2018 Commission meeting proposal” link under “Bay Scallops.”
Learn more about bay scallop regulations at MyFWC.com/Fishing, click on “Saltwater Fishing,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Bay Scallops.”
The Steinhatchee boat parade will begin at Fiddler's Restaurant and end at Roy's Restaurant. The parade will begin at dark thirty. Please contact Fiddler's or Roy's to register for the boat parade.
UF IFAS Taylor County Extension has released its preliminary 2017 Scallop Season monitoring results. Here is what they found:
A Second Chance for a Rescued Pilot Whale
The 725 lb. whale beached herself in Dixie County, FL on July 1. Discovered by beach goers, teams from the University of Florida and Clearwater Marine Aquariumrescued and transported her to our rehabilitation facility for continued medical care.
Upon arrival, our team initiated around-the-clock care. She responded quickly to treatment from our veterinarian team and began to show signs of improvement almost immediately.
Together with NOAA, our Animal Rescue Team quickly made arrangements to return her back to her natural environment. First step was determining a return location. Plans were made to release her 140 miles off the West Coast of Florida in an area known to be populated by pilot whale pods. Next step was securing a large enough vessel to transport her and the team. This is when the U.S. Coast Guard stepped in. To ensure the pilot whale was returned safely and carefully, the U.S. Coast Guard assisted with the complex transport.
With all of the logistics in order it was time for the team to head out for the return. On Tuesday morning, August 8, the pilot whale, nicknamed “Gale” by the USCG crew, was successfully returned to the Gulf of Mexico.
Just prior to her release, the pilot whale was satellite tagged by researchers with the Chicago Zoological Society’s Sarasota Dolphin Research Program. The tag will allow researchers and rescuers to track her movements and dive patterns for the next several months.
Stay tuned for continued updates on “Gale” as we receive information from NOAA and the teams tracking her.