Proposed Ban on Spearfishing in Southeast Florida

Source: Public Policy Alert - Proposed Ban on Spearfishing in Southeast Florida - The Diving Equipment & Marketing Association

PRIORITY: TIME CRITICAL

Your comments on a Proposed Ban on Spearfishing in Southeast Florida While Using Scuba are URGENTLY NEEDED.

DEMA requests all members of the Florida diving community submit written comments to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection BEFORE FEBRUARY 16, 2016 on a proposed ban on spear fishing while using scuba in the SE Florida counties of Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Martin.

DEMA is concerned that this ban is being proposed WITHOUT scientific data that indicate such a ban is warranted.  Further, DEMA is concerned that these proposed restrictions are aimed solely at DIVING, and EXCLUDE RECREATIONAL AND COMMERCIAL FISHING, both of which have a much greater impact on fish populations than spearfishing while on scuba. 

DEMA FAVORS CONSERVATION REGULATIONS WHICH IMPACT ALL SECTORS

WHEN SCIENCE INDICATES SUCH REGULATIONS ARE WARRANTED.

It is important to note that DEMA supports conservation of fish species when scientific research indicates the need to do so.  However, we also believe that when science calls for such harvest restrictions, ALL means of harvest should be subject to those restrictions, including recreational fishing and commercial fishing.  This proposed ban is focused SOLELY on spear fishing while using scuba, and excludes any mention of limitations on hook-and-line recreational fishing or commercial fishing.

THE FOLLOWING ARE DEMA’S CONCERNS WITH THESE RECOMMENDED MANAGEMENT ACTIONS:

1.      THIS ACTION IS BEING PROPOSED WITHOUT SCIENTIFIC DATA TO SUPPORT SUCH A BAN.  Although theRecommended Management Action  (RMA) cites many publications to support its proposal for banning spearfishing on scuba, the RMA also acknowledges that there are “Information Gaps.”  Specifically the RMA states that, “The relative number of fish taken by spear versus angling is unknown, as is the total magnitude of fish taken by spear.  It is a cryptic fishery.”

2.      ANY BAN ON SPEAR FISHING MUST ALSO INCLUDE SIMILAR RESTRICTIONS ON COMMERCIAL AND RECREATIONAL FISHING.  Florida already has many fishing regulations in place which regulate seasonality as well as size and quantity limits, which appropriately impact all forms of fishing; commercial fishing, recreational fishing AND spearfishing.  Absent ANY DATA that specifically points to spearfishing as having a greater impact on supposedly “highly targeted species,” DEMA contends that these current limits and laws are adequate to prevent any “targeting of commercially valuable and ecologically important ‘trophy’ fish.”  Further, if additional regulations are needed for spearfishing on scuba, surely these same restrictions are warranted for ALL forms of extraction, including commercial fishing and hook-and-line recreational fishing.

FOR THE REASONS STATED, DEMA OPPOSES THIS PROPOSED BAN.  Should such a ban be enacted, there is significant risk that similar bans could be proposed in other Florida counties.  It is therefore important for ALL Florida dive businesses to participate in this comment period. 

Our Florida Reefs will hold a series of community meetings around South Florida between now and February 17 to discuss this and other proposed regulations.  DEMA urges members of the diving community to attend these meetings and voice your opposition to this proposed ban, which unfairly singles out the diving community.  Two meetings will be held on each of the scheduled days, the first from noon to 2 p.m. and the second from 6 to 8 p.m. Meetings are being held in Broward, Palm Beach, Palm Beach Gardens, Delray, and Fort Lauderdale.

DEMA STRONGLY URGES ALL FLORIDA DIVERS AND ALL FLORIDA DIVE PROFESSIONALS TO SUBMIT THEIR WRITTEN COMMENTS ON THIS PROPOSED BAN HERE. Written comments will carry more weight than comments made during the scheduled meetings.

Your written comments should include:

  • Your business location.
  • The amount of revenue generated by this activity and the losses if this ban is put into place.
  • Emphasis about the lack of data to support such a highly focused ban on this activity.
  • Concerns about singling out spear fishing on scuba without consideration for similar limitations being placed on commercial and recreational fishing.

Finally, OFR is also proposing many other actions that will impact the diving business in Florida.  With theseadditional proposals already under consideration, please be prepared to comment on them in writing and during face-to-face meetings.  For example, a proposal is being made to change the limits on the number of lobster taken during Florida lobster mini-season.  In this instance, be prepared to provide comments on the number of divers coming to your business to participate in this activity.

12 Responses

  1. <p>If you can't think of another reason to support fighting the ban: </p><p><a href="http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/lionfish.html" target="_blank" class="externalLink ProxyLink" data-proxy-href="http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/lionfish.html" rel="nofollow">Why are lionfish a threat to Atlantic Ocean fish?</a></p>
  2. <p>It pays to actually read the proposal, and not react to sensational headlines.</p><p><br /></p><p>S-67 </p><p>"Provide incentives to divers and fishermen to eradicate invasive species of marine organisms proliferating the SEFCRI coral reef system to provide a natural ecological balance of marine and plant life for the coral reef system"</p><p><br /></p><p><a href="http://ourfloridareefs.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/FINAL_MediaKit_RMA_list_DK_JW_Jan4_2016.pdf" target="_blank" class="externalLink ProxyLink" data-proxy-href="http://ourfloridareefs.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/FINAL_MediaKit_RMA_list_DK_JW_Jan4_2016.pdf" rel="nofollow">http://ourfloridareefs.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/FINAL_MediaKit_RMA_list_DK_JW_Jan4_2016.pdf</a></p>
  3. <p>I did read the proposal and it does have some good points however I find it odd that Spearfishing on Scuba is specifically targeted due to its selective nature (and it appears spearfishing while Freediving is okay although they are typically more successful with larger fish and catches due to the stealthy nature of breath hold diving)…..there's no by catch like with commercial fishing. I don't know the ratio of divers Spearfishing to Recreational line fishing but I'm sure its more than 1 to 50!</p>
  4. <p>I think banning spearfishing would be great there as I have an apartment in WPB!  I won't enter the water if there are weapons around.  Enjoy life - stop killing!</p>
  5. <p>[QUOTE="fdarden, post: 7609472, member: 193466"]It pays to actually read the proposal, and not react to sensational headlines.[/QUOTE]</p><p>I did... I don't like this: </p><p><br /></p><p>[quote]N-59 Ban the practice of spearfishing on SCUBA to enable sustainable use of our Florida reefs.[/quote]</p>
  6. <p>That's the problem - N-59 banning scuba spearfishing conflicts with S-67 which encourages eradication of invasive species, and should probably be amended to exclude invasive species.  Far too few think of the consequences of their rules, laws, etc., these days.</p>

  7. <p>The comment period for these proposals was a month and a half ago. The topic was posted on SB previously, prior to that time. The open meetings have already been held. This post seems a bit late, huh?</p>
  8. <p>Well, you didn't have to post then :)</p><p><br /></p><p>On a more serious note, their proposal does exclude lionfish if you look at the documents posted at:</p><p><br /></p><p><a href="http://ourfloridareefs.org/fishing-diving-other-uses-restoration/" target="_blank" class="externalLink ProxyLink" data-proxy-href="http://ourfloridareefs.org/fishing-diving-other-uses-restoration/" rel="nofollow">Fishing, Diving, Boating & Other Uses/Restoration Draft RMAs | OUR FLORIDA REEFS</a></p><p><br /></p><p>It also mentions several locations in the Caribbean where spearfishing on scuba has also been banned.  I'm sure we haven't heard the last of this proposal, and you can still comment here:</p><p><br /></p><p><a href="http://ourfloridareefs.org/public-comment-form-demo/" target="_blank" class="externalLink ProxyLink" data-proxy-href="http://ourfloridareefs.org/public-comment-form-demo/" rel="nofollow">Public Comment Form Demo | OUR FLORIDA REEFS</a></p>
  9. <p>Lion-fish are a bane to humanity and scourge on this earth - they all need to die. That said if scuba spearfishing is banned - you can always move to underwater scuba/rebreather bow fishing. It's a real thing and it works.</p>
  10. <p>[QUOTE="Reku, post: 7659661, member: 469646"]Lion-fish are a bane to humanity and scourge on this earth - they all need to die. [/QUOTE]</p><p>They are NOT.</p><p>They are native in our part of the world!!!</p>
  11. <p>BAN and do not go on dive boats with scuba spearfishing divers   Dive Nassau and see what schools of fish look like they do not allow scuba spearfishing</p>
  12. <p>The individual diver is responsible for his actions. Banning spearfishing is like banning guns. The people that abuse the sport won't follow the rules anyway so it just hurts the dives that do. My favorite story about spearfishing I was diving at the rigs off Galveston ...... I had a 4 ft. speargun and 3 foot visibility so ever time I saw a fish I has to backup a foot before I could shoot at it ....</p>