CHAPTER 68B-43

    68B-43.001         Purpose and Intent; Repeal of Statutory Provisions; Designation as Restricted Species
    68B-43.002         Definitions
    68B-43.003         Size Limit; Bluefish to be Landed in Whole Condition
    68B-43.004         Bag Limits
    68B-43.005         East Coast Commercial Harvest: Daily Vessel Harvest and Possession Limit; Season
    Harvest Limit; Gear Specifications

    68B-43.001 Purpose and Intent; Repeal of Statutory Provisions; Designation as Restricted Species.
    (1) The purpose and intent of this chapter are to protect and conserve Florida's bluefish resources and
    assure the continuing health and abundance of the species. It is also the intent of the Commission to
    manage bluefish in such a manner as to permit an equitable statewide commercial harvest of the species.
    (2) It is the intent of this chapter to expressly effect the repeal of and replace Section 370.11(2)(a)1., F.S.
    (1993); and the remainder of Section 370.11(2)(a), F.S. (1993); as it pertains to bluefish.
    (3) Bluefish are hereby designated as a restricted species pursuant to Section 379.101(32), F.S.
    (4) This rule chapter shall take effect on July 1, 1993.

    Specific Authority Art. IV, Sec. 9, Fla. Const., Chapter 83-134, Laws of Fla., as amended by Chapter 84-121,
    and Chapter 85-163, Laws of Fla. Law Implemented Art. IV, Sec. 9, Fla. Const., Chapter 83-134, Laws of Fla.,
    as amended by Chapter 84-121, and Chapter 85-163, Laws of Fla. History–New 7-1-93, Formerly 46-43.001.

    68B-43.002 Definitions.

    As used in this rule chapter:
    (1) "Atlantic Ocean" means all state and federal waters of the Atlantic Ocean along the east coast of Florida,
    including all state and federal waters south and east of the line beginning at the intersection of the outer
    boundary of the federal Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and 83 deg. W. longitude, thence along that meridian
    northward to its intersection with 24 deg. 35 min. N. latitude (near the Dry Tortugas), thence eastward along
    that parallel through Rebecca Shoal and the Quicksand Shoal to 82 deg. 13 min. W. longitude, then following
    the Territorial Sea Boundary south and east to the point it intersects 24 deg. 33 min. N. latitude, thence
    eastward along that parallel to the point where it intersects Key West, then continuing along a line eastward to
    the terminus of U.S. Highway 1 to the point where it intersects the mainland at the east end of Florida Bay.
    (2) "Bluefish" means any fish of the species Pomatomus saltatrix, or any part thereof.
    (3) "East Central Coast Region" means all state waters of Volusia, Brevard, Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin, and
    Palm Beach Counties between Ponce De Leon Inlet on the north and Jupiter Inlet on the south and all
    adjacent federal Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) waters.
    (4) "East Coast Region" means all state and adjacent federal waters north of the Dade-Monroe County Line
    extended due east to the outer boundary of the federal Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
    (5) "Fork length" means the length of a fish as measured from the tip of the snout to the rear center edge of
    the tail.
    (6) "Harvest" means the catching or taking of a fish by any means whatsoever, followed by a reduction of such
    fish to possession. Fish that are caught but immediately returned to the water free, alive, and unharmed are
    not harvested. In addition, temporary possession of a fish for the purpose of measuring it to determine
    compliance with the minimum or maximum size requirements of this chapter shall not constitute harvesting
    such fish, provided that it is measured immediately after taking, and immediately returned to the water free,
    alive, and unharmed if undersize or oversize.
    (7) "Harvest for commercial purposes" means the taking or harvesting of fish for purposes of sale or with
    intent to sell or in excess of established bag limits.
    (8) "Land", when used in connection with the harvest of a fish, means the physical act of bringing the
    harvested fish ashore.

    Specific Authority Art. IV, Sec. 9, Fla. Const. Law Implemented Art. IV, Sec. 9, Fla. Const. History–New 6-17-93,
    Formerly 46-43.002.

    68B-43.003 Size Limit; Bluefish to be Landed in Whole Condition.

    (1) No person shall harvest, land, or sell or offer for sale any bluefish with a fork length less than 12 inches.
    (2) All bluefish shall be landed in a whole condition. The possession, while in or on state waters, of such fish
    that have been deheaded, sliced, divided, filleted, ground, skinned, scaled, or deboned is prohibited. Mere
    evisceration or "gutting" of such fish, or mere removal of gills before landing is not prohibited.

    Specific Authority Art. IV, Sec. 9, Fla. Const. Law Implemented Art. IV, Sec. 9, Fla. Const. History–New 6-17-93,
    Amended 8-31-98, Formerly 46-43.003.

    68B-43.004 Bag Limits.

    Except for those persons possessing a valid saltwater products license with a restricted species
    endorsement, no person shall harvest or land more than 10 bluefish per day. No such person shall possess
    more than 10 bluefish while in, on, or above the waters of the state or on any dock, pier, bridge, beach, or any
    fishing site adjacent to such waters.

    Specific Authority Art. IV, Sec. 9, Fla. Const. Law Implemented Art. IV, Sec. 9, Fla. Const. History–New 6-17-93,
    Formerly 46-43.004.

    68B-43.005 East Coast Commercial Harvest: Daily Vessel Harvest and Possession Limit; Season Harvest
    Limit; Gear Specifications.

    (1) Commercial Vessel Limit for East Coast Region – A person possessing a valid saltwater products license
    with a restricted species endorsement may harvest from state or federal Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ)
    waters of the East Coast Region, and land within the region, no more than 7,500 pounds of bluefish per
    vessel per day. The possession of more than 7,500 pounds of bluefish aboard a single vessel in or on state
    waters within the region at any time is prohibited.
    (2) Persons harvesting bluefish for commercial purposes from state or federal Exclusive Economic Zone
    (EEZ) waters of the East Coast Region shall have a season that begins on January 1 and continues through
    December 31 each year, unless closed earlier pursuant to the following provisions of this subsection.
    (a) If the total commercial harvest of bluefish from state and federal Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) waters of
    the East Coast Region is projected to reach 877,000 pounds before December 31 of any season, the season
    for commercial harvest of bluefish in such waters shall be closed by the Executive Director of the Fish and
    Wildlife Conservation Commission upon notice and in the manner provided in Section 120.81(5), Florida
    Statutes. If the season is closed pursuant to this paragraph, it shall not reopen until the following January 1.
    (b) During any season closure pursuant to paragraph (a), no person shall harvest bluefish in a quantity in
    excess of the bag limit established by Rule 68B-43.004, possess such quantity of bluefish in or on state or
    federal Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) waters of the East Coast Region, or purchase, sell, or exchange any
    bluefish harvested in or from the waters of the region during the closure.
    (c) For purposes of this subsection, the total commercial harvest of bluefish from state and federal Exclusive
    Economic Zone (EEZ) waters of the East Coast Region shall consist of those bluefish harvested for
    commercial purposes by all forms of gear from such waters based on projections from official statistics
    collected and maintained by the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission pursuant to Florida's Marine
    Fisheries Information System, Chapter 68D-5, F.A.C., and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). The
    count shall be conducted by the Fishery Statistics Section of the Florida Marine Research Institute and shall
    commence with bluefish commercially harvested on and after January 1 and continue until December 31 of
    each year.
    (3) Gear Specifications – Each person harvesting or attempting to harvest bluefish for commercial purposes
    in or from state waters or federal Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) waters of the Atlantic Ocean adjacent to
    state waters shall comply with the following gear requirements:
    (a) Each net fish with, set, or placed in the water shall be tended. The term "tend" means that the person
    fishing with, setting, or placing the net in the water is either:
    1. Within 300 yards of the net and using vessel movement and noise to force fish into the meshes of the net
    where they become entangled or trapped; or
    2. Within 50 yards of the net if the vessel used is not in constant motion.
    (b) Each net fished with, set, or placed in the water shall be marked in the following manner:
    1. During the period beginning one hour before official sunrise and ending one hour after official sunset, an
    international orange float with a diameter of at least 12 inches or an end buoy equipped with a high flier (a
    vertical rod rising at least 24 inches above the surface of the water) displaying a net signal flag shall be affixed
    at each end of the cork line of the net. The net signal flag shall be triangular, have dimensions no smaller
    than 12" x 18" x 18", and have a white circle at least 6 inches in diameter on a field of bright orange. During the
    period beginning one hour after official sunset and ending one hour before official sunrise, a white light
    visible 3600 from a distance of not less than one mile shall be affixed at each end of the cork line of the net. If
    one end of a net is retained aboard the vessel during a fishing operation, such end need not be marked with
    float, high flier with net signal flag, or light. At all times, corks or floats of contrasting color shall be affixed at no
    greater than 100-yard intervals along the cork line of the net.
    2. Each such float, high flier with net signal flag, light, and cork or float of contrasting color shall be legibly
    marked with a saltwater products license number which matches either:
    a. The saltwater products license number issued for the vessel on which the net is possessed or from which
    the net is deployed, or
    b. The saltwater products license number of the operator of the vessel on which the net is possessed or from
    which the net is deployed.
    (c) No person shall fish with, set, or place in the water or possess aboard a vessel while on the water any net
    with a total length greater than 600 yards. No person shall tie or otherwise fasten together two or more nets in
    any manner so as to fish with, set, or place in the water a net exceeding the 600-yard limit.
    (d) No more than one net shall be fished with, set, or placed in the water from a single vessel at any one time.
    (e) No more than two nets shall be possessed aboard a vessel at any one time, including any net being
    fished; provided, however, that the two nets shall have stretched mesh sizes that differ by at least 1/4 inch or
    depths that differ by at least 25 meshes.
    (f) No person shall soak a net for more than one hour, beginning when the first mesh is placed in the water
    and ending either when the first mesh is retrieved back aboard the vessel or the gathering or pursing of the
    net is begun to facilitate retrieval back aboard the vessel, whichever occurs sooner. Once either the first mesh
    is retrieved back aboard the vessel or the gathering or pursing is begun, the netting operation shall be
    continuous until the net is completely removed from the water.
    (g) No person shall fish with, set, or place in the water any gill or trammel net with a mesh size smaller than 3
    inches stretched mesh.
    (h) The term "net" shall be construed broadly to include all manner of gill and trammel nets and seines,
    except purse seines.

    Specific Authority Art. IV, Sec. 9, Fla. Const. Law Implemented Art. IV, Sec. 9, Fla. Const. History–New 6-17-93,
    Amended 10-4-95, Formerly 46-43.005.


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