Spearfishing allowed in Collier Co. state waters
Published: Sunday, June 30, 2013 at 6:10 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, June 30, 2013 at 6:10 p.m.
NAPLES — For the first time in more than 60 years, spearfishing is now allowed in state waters in Collier County.
Saltwater species, including the nonnative invasive lionfish, can be targeted starting on Sunday with a spearing device in the county's state waters, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The recent repeal of rules that prohibited spearing should facilitate the harvest of lionfish that are negatively impacting Florida's native fish and wildlife, the FWC said in a statement. Spearfishing is among the most effective methods for lionfish control and removal, along with the use of hand-held nets.
The Collier Board of County Commissioners sent a letter to the FWC earlier this year requesting the repeals to allow for lionfish harvest after the first one was documented on Jan. 13 in state waters off the county. The ban on spearing had been in place since the early 1950s, well before the creation of the FWC.
Statewide regulations on the use of spears will apply in state waters off Collier County, the FWC noted in its statement. Those regulations include: Spearing is not allowed in freshwater or when targeting freshwater species; within 100 yards of a public swimming beach, any commercial or public fishing pier or any part of a bridge from which public fishing is allowed; within 100 feet of any part of a jetty that is above the water's surface except for the last 500 yards of a jetty that extends more than 1,500 yards from the shoreline; in Monroe County from Long Key north to the Dade County line; and in any body of water under the jurisdiction of the Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Recreation and Parks.
Several species are also off limits. Those that cannot be speared are: billfish, spotted eagle ray, sturgeon, manta ray, sharks, bonefish, tarpon, goliath grouper, snook, blue crab, Nassau grouper, spotted sea trout, red drum, weakfish, stone crab, pompano, African pompano, permit, tripletail, lobster and many species of ornamental tropical fish such as surgeonfish, trumpet fish, angelfish, butterfly fish, porcupine fish, cornet fish, squirrelfish, trunkfish, damselfish, parrotfish, pipefish, sea horse, puffers and triggerfish, with the exception of gray and ocean triggerfish.
A recreational fishing license is not required for anyone targeting lionfish, but all other spear fishers must have a recreational fishing license, unless they are exempt from the requirement. All regulations also apply, including seasons, bag limits and size limits.
Learn more about Florida's spearing rules at MyFWC.com/Fishing by clicking on "Recreational" and "Spearing."