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Click here to submit comments to your governor, senators and representatives to make a difference: http://www.billfish.org/news/submit-comments-efp-fl-elected-officials/
 
On August 10, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announced it’s approval of the Exempted Fishing Permit that allows longline boats to fish in Florida’s east coast closed zone. 
 
This puts the recreational fishing industry that I work so hard to promote and protect, in danger. 
 
Long lines are fishing lines that are miles in length, and have have thousands of hooks attached, set by commercial fishing boats.
 
With this new approval, commercial boats will now be allowed to set their long lines in a formerly closed fishing area off Florida.
 
I have fished all over the world and I have seen the problems with longlining. The amount of by-catch and loss of marine life is tremendous. Longlines hook marlin, sailfish, sharks and tuna…they kill indiscriminately. It’s not just fish, turtles, dolphins and whales are also accidentally hooked by longlines.
 
I also witnessed the decline and recovery of the sword fishery off South Florida. When I first started fishing, a swordfish was rare. When longlining was banned off of Florida’s east coast. I witnessed first hand, the comeback of the species into a thriving fishery, that attracts visitors from around the world.
 
Recreational fishing is tremendously important to Florida’s economy. In Florida, recreational fishing has an economic impact of $7.6 billion dollars, and the industry supports 109,300 jobs. This includes hotels, restaurants, fishing licenses, captains, airline tickets etc. 
 
The world is not aware of how destructive longline fishing is. If the National Marine Fisheries Service is so confident on their decision, we should be allowed to film the setting of these longlines, along with retrieval, to show the world what indiscriminate decimation of the ocean looks like first hand.
 
There are no secrets anymore. All signs indicate this is a horrible decision that sets a tone that will one day wipe our ocean clean.
 
We have one planet…let’s be smart and take care of it. 
 

Please see the following excerpt from The Billfish Foundation. To view the original article click here: http://www.billfish.org/news/noaa-fisheries-grants-longline-access-florida-closed-area/

Florida has more anglers than any other state in the nation, 2.4 million, and the related industry generates an economic impact of $7.6 billion dollars (2015/16) and supports 109,300 jobs! This is a slap in the face of all connected to recreational fishing in Florida especially after strong opposition was expressed by the industry and community participants. This decision could have a negative impact on Florida’s wide ranging marine tourism.
 
Ellen Peel, president of the Billfish Foundation stated:
“She was not surprised, though held out some hope, the NMFS would realize allowing longlines back into Florida’s east coast closed zone to land the conservation benefits accrued over 16 years of closure would be illogical. The NMFS has accommodated the one scientist at NOVA, who filed for the permit, project after project, regardless of prior results or inappropriateness of this project. The hypocrisy of the situation is blatant for the scientist, along with the owner of many of the longline boats that will fish in the zone, were part of a CNN interview in 2012 in which they made the argument that longlining was not a clean gear and should be replaced by buoy gear. Now that the scientist and boat owner can sell the conservation benefits their story has changed. The longlines will kill billfish, swordfish, sharks and sea turtles. Be prepared, the NMFS, HMS may issue more restraints on recreational fishing so there will be more fish for the “research longlines” to kill if illogical thinking continues. Keep in mind that the State of Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission opposed the permit being issued.”

What I appreciate most about Florida is the diversity of outdoor activities available to visitors and residents alike. One such activity is scalloping. Scalloping is a blast…it’s  an easy and accessible pursuit and is perfect for families. It’s like an easter egg hunt, but the prize is tasty scallops. Here’s the lowdown on scalloping in Florida.

Scallops are widespread throughout their range, but  can be collected only in the designated harvest zone determined by the FWC (website with regulations and harvest sounds at the end of the article.)

Popular areas to go scalloping include Keaton, Steinhatchee, Crystal River and Homosassa. I recently had the opportunity to try scalloping in Steinhatchee, a town in Florida’s Nature Coast. You don’t need a big boat to partake, all you need is a mask and snorkel.

The concept is simple. You jump in the water and weed through the grassy seabed until you see your prize. Sometimes the scallops will show you they’re white, fan shaped underbelly. Our captain referred to these as “gimmes.”  Oftentimes the scallops are dark and olive colored, so they’re not easy to spot. Once you find a single scallop, look for groups in the area.. This i all about experience, once you determine patterns in the way the scallops appear on the seabed, you’ll be able to find more, filling your bucket quicker.

Some telltale patterns you need to look for:

  • Sunny conditions are best. You will be able to see the scallops easier, and the scallops will gather on the top of the grass.
  • Look for holes. The scallops will gather on the edge of potholes.
  • Scallops have neon blue eyes. Oftentimes you can spot them by looking for their eyes.
  • Put your head down and swim, while weeding through the eelgrass.

Here’s what you need to get in on the scallop action. Firstly, a dive mask and snorkel along. Fins are optional, but are a big help. You’ll need a mesh bag to carry scallops once you find them. Next, you’ll need a dive flag for the boat, this should be attached on the end of a PVC pole so that it’s visible. You’ll need a shucking knife… it’s best to put scallops on ice immediately after you harvest them. You will need a saltwater fishing license, nonresidents can purchase a short time license. The current FWC regulations dictate that you can harvest the following: 2 gallons whole bay scallops in shell, or 1 pint of bay scallop meat per person. Maximum of 10 gallons of whole bay scallops in shell, or 1/2 gallon bay scallop meat per vessel.

In Steinhatchee, I had the pleasure of heading out scalloping with Capt Tony Mathis from www.YKnotFish.com Uniquely to these areas that you can head out on a charter, targeting trout and redfish in the morning. When the weather heats up, you can head to the scalloping grounds to cool off. Another area that has great scalloping is Crystal River. I stay at the Plantation on Crystal River(www.plantationoncrystalriver.com) and head out with Capt. Clay Shidler  (http://www.fishingcharterscrystalriver.com.) 

Check the FWC site for the regulations and seasons, as this varies from county to county  and regulations: www.myfwc.com/fishing/saltwater/recreational/bay-scallops.

For more information about scalloping in Crystal River visit http://www.discovercrystalriverfl.com/play/scalloping/

Sautéed Bay scallops

  • Olive Oil
  • 1 pound of fresh bay scallops
  • Lemon Juice to taste
  • Chopped fresh parsley
  • Ground black pepper

Heat olive oil and butter until nearly smoking in large sauce pan. Add the scallops t the sauce pan when the scallops are gently browned, either toss them or flip over with a spatula. When both sides are browned. Place scallops on a serving platter. In the same pan, heat up more butter, add in parsley and lemon juice. Pour the mixture over the scallops.

There are countless incredible outdoor experiences throughout Florida that are great for families. One that I recently had the pleasure of experiencing firsthand, provides unparalleled interaction with a unique animal..the Florida manatee! This is the only place in the United states where people can legally interact with manatees in the wild. Here’s some info on this unique and interesting experience.

Crystal River is located on the Nature Coast of Florida. It’s a small town with a population of just over 3,000. The city sits on Kings Bay. Kings Bay is an area of water fed by over seventy springs. These springs sit just over 5 miles from the Gulf of Mexico, the springs feed over 600 million gallons of freshwater a day. I had the opportunity to visit the most popular spring, Three Sisters Spring. This spring has crystal clear water, and in the colder months, holds hundreds of manatees.

The West Indian manatee is a threatened species and was formerly considered an endangered species in the 1970s, as there were only several hundred left in the wild. Most deaths were human related…manatees are frequently struck by boats and propeller blades. Recently, on March 30, 2017, the endangered species classification was lifted, and they are now considered threatened. There are currently around 6,000 west indian manatees in the wild.

The reason why the manatees venture into the springs surrounding the Crystal River has to do with falling water temperatures. When the water temperatures fall below 65 degrees in Florida, the manatees undergo great stress. The springs in the area around Crystal River have a constant temperature of 72-74 degrees. The manatees thrive in the warm water, they come here to mate and then birth and nurse their young. Although Crystal River holds manatees all year round, the months from November through April hold the highest concentrations.

Now for the fun part, swimming with the manatees! In this area, the manatee tours use what is called ‘passive observation.’ This means that you do not initiate contact, but rather observe and wait for the manatees to come to you. This allows the manatees to not feel threatened and to be relaxed in their own environment. When I visited Crystal River, we used 5mm wetsuits which are extremely buoyant. This allows you to float gently, without having to tread, so that the manatees will approach you and get extremely close

If you’re looking for a great way to get in touch with nature, that’s relaxing and accessible for the whole family, I recommend visiting Crystal River, staying at the Plantation on Crystal River, and booking a trip with their dive shop. They’ll set you up with the appropriate gear and teach you the best way to interact with these gentle giants. Did I forget to mention? There’s great fishing too! Visit www.discovercrystalriverfl.com and www.plantationoncrystalriver.com to book a trip.

Miami, FL (March 19, 2017) – Coming off a string of six total prizes at last year’s Telly Awards and an Emmy nomination, celebrity fisherman Peter Miller of Bass 2 Billfish with Peter Miller, filmed one of his most heartwarming episodes to date last week. The show, which regularly films in and highlights the world-class biodiversity of the waters surrounding Florida, Miller and his team granted Wyatt Dalton’s lifetime wish – to fish with Peter Miller. Dalton is a 10-year-old boy from Virginia who suffers from acute and chronic Leukemia. Dalton said the inspiration behind his wish was that he would watch Bass 2 Billfish with Peter Miller in the hospital daily, because it would help the time go faster during his treatments. Dalton wrote to Miller “I hope to meet and fish with you soon; I think we would look great on TV together.”

 Luckily when you dream big, big things can happen because last week, Peter Miller, granted a wish by having Dalton, a Make-A-Wish recipient on his show. On Tuesday, March 14, 2017, Dalton and his family drove down from Virginia to Dania Beach, Florida and were elated to meet Miller at Bass Pro Shops. Miller provided Dalton and his family with Bass Pro Shops gift cards and Bass Pro Shops’ GM, Danny Vinson gifted Dalton with a fishing rod and reel along with a ton of gear. Afterwards, they had dinner at Islamorada Fish Company. While dining, Dalton and his family choked up a bit and said that it was the first time they had been out to a restaurant in over a year, as Dalton’s immune system was too compromised to be exposed to any germs during treatment.

On Wednesday, March 15, Dalton and his family embarked from Key Biscayne, Florida on the fishing trip of a lifetime with Bass 2 Billfish, Peter Miller and Captain Quinton Dieterle. Throughout the course of the day they caught five sailfish, barracudas and bonitos fishing alongside Peter Miller. During the excursion, Miller and the Daltons formed an everlasting bond. Miller took Dalton and his brother Will under his wing and coached them through the entire experience, including a triple header of sailfish for Dalton, his brother and father Michael. This was their first-time fishing in salt water.  Dalton is now the youngest guest to catch not one, but two sailfish on an episode of Bass 2 Billfish. The family was emotional, and told the crew that it was such an amazing experience because for just that moment, they could forget how hard the past year had been and focus on enjoying themselves.

At the dock, Dalton was presented with a generous gift pack from Mike Myatt of the International Game Fish Association, which included a full-size sailfish print, mini sailfish mount and a bag full of gear for him to remember his incredible day on the water.

 Wyatt Dalton’s episode is slated to air on Bass to Billfish with Peter Miller on Tuesday, April 11, 2017 at 4:00 p.m. EST. Miller has collaborated with the Make-A-Wish foundation on numerous occasions. This is the fourth wish Miller has granted on-air, and the fifth wish Miller has been involved in. Miller is honored and humbled to be able to provide these experiences, and he looks forward to collaborating with the Make-A-Wish Foundation in the future.

 Not all guests on Bass 2 Billfish with Peter Miller come from unfortunate or special needs backgrounds, yet Miller and his team make a point of using the program to give back to the public. For the past eight seasons of the program, guests from all over the United States, including children, father-son duos, girlfriends, war heroes, and many more, have submitted audition tapes for a chance to be on the show. Once accepted, the B2B team provides an unforgettable experience, including airfare, five-star accommodations, and a legendary gift pack loaded with swag from sponsors, including Yeti, Bass Pro Shops, Salt Life, Costa Sunglasses, Monster Speakers and others. No matter their background, fans of all ages and levels of fishing experience are welcomed to apply to be on the show, for a chance to hit the water with, “3 Time World Sailfish Champion” Peter Miller.

Special thanks to:

Make-A-Wish Virginia http://va.wish.org/

Make-A-Wish South Florida http://sfla.wish.org/

Make-A-Wish America http://wish.org/

Bass Pro Shops http://www.basspro.com/

International Game Fish Association https://www.igfa.org/