Best Practices on the Water

Safe Boating Tips

We want everyone to have a safe and fun time on the Bay. Here are a few tips to also be a good steward and to keep the Bay healthy:

  • Always be aware of depth and maintain propeller clearance to avoid damaging seagrass beds and coral reefs. Sea grass and corals can take decades to recover from boat damage.
  • Always obey signs for slow speeds in manatee zones.
  • Many boat cleaners contain chlorine, ammonia, and phosphates — substances that are toxic to marine life and people. Select nontoxic cleaning products that do not harm humans or aquatic life.
  • Recycle your monofilament line at your local marina. If they don’t have a station, help them start one! For station locations and information about starting a program, visit: myfwc.com
  • Always take your trash with you and dispose of it properly and recycle whenever possible.
  • For more information on reducing your impact on your waterway visit: water.epa.gov
  • See any violations of Fish and Wildlife Laws? Tell us!

Best Fishing Practices

By adopting several simple practices every time you fish, you can significantly reduce your environmental impact and allow fish stocks to grow. This ensures that there will be plenty of fish left in our waters to maintain a healthy ecosystem and leave enough for future fishing.

  • The first thing you should always do to reduce your environmental impact when fishing is to be aware of any relevant rules and regulations. If fishing in Florida waters, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s website. www.myfwc.com provides all the information you need.
  • If fishing in federal waters, check www.gulfcouncil.org for federal rules in the Gulf of Mexico and www.safmc.net for rules in the Atlantic.
  • Another thing you can do to fish in an environmentally friendly way is to catch and release. By releasing the fish you catch, they are able to continue to grow and reproduce, allowing fish stocks to grow. Catch and release sounds simple, but the following tips will help make it easier on both you and the fish:
  • Use a circle hook or a barbless hook on the end of your line. Circle hooks catch easily on the corner of a fish’s mouth, preventing the fish from swallowing the hook and damaging any internal organs. Circle hooks and barbless hooks are much easier to remove as well so the fish can be quickly and safely released. If the fish does swallow the hook, don’t try to remove it. Cut the line as close to the hook as possible and leave it there to avoid damaging vital organs.
  • Don’t play the fish to exhaustion when on the line; reel the fish in quickly and safely.
  • If using a landing net, it is best to use one with a soft rubber mesh that doesn’t harm the fish’s eyes or damage its protective outer membrane.
  • If possible, unhook the fish while it is still in the water and keep air exposure to a minimum. Ideally the fish should only be out of the water for a minute at most.
  • Handle the fish as little as possible, using a wet towel if available.
  • Have a camera, measuring tape, and pliers nearby so you can measure the fish, take a quick photo, and release it without it spending too much time in the air and in your hands. If photographing yourself with the fish, hold it horizontally rather than vertically to reduce stress. Try to take a photo with the fish still in the water if possible.
  • When releasing the fish, hold it in the water facing the current so it can acclimate before swimming off.
  • More information about catch and release practices can be found at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/.
Best Practices on the Water
Best Practices on the Water
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