Common Sea Fans (<em>Gorgonia ventilina</em>) are one of several species of sea fans found in southeast Florida. Sea fans are also classified as soft corals or gorgonians.

Common Sea Fans (Gorgonia ventilina) are one of several species of sea fans found in southeast Florida. Sea fans are also classified as soft corals or gorgonians.

Photo: Chantal Collier

Juvenile bluehead wrasses swim along the reef in Palm Beach.

Juvenile bluehead wrasses swim along the reef in Palm Beach.

Photo: Joe Marino

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Southeast Florida Reef News

Marine Regulation Awareness Program Development Gets Underway

By Jamie Monty
Fishing, Diving & Other Uses Project Coordinator

Students attending Biscayne National Park’s Fisheries Awareness Class. Photo: Biscayne National Park Staff
Students attending Biscayne National Park’s Fisheries Awareness Class. Photo: Biscayne National Park Staff

FDOU Combined Project 2, 5, 6, & 7 is developing a “Marine Regulation Awareness Program.” Similar to driving school, individuals who have received marine regulation citations (for fishing, diving, or boating) may, at the discretion of the U.S., state, and/or local district attorney's office(s) and the ticketing law enforcement agent, take the course in exchange for having their fine reduced or waived. In addition to being offered as a mitigation option for individuals who have received fishing, diving, or boating citations, the course will also be offered to the general public as a means of preempting further violations from taking place by educating the fishing/diving/boating population about the regulations that apply to them.

The FDOU Combined Project 2, 5, 6, & 7 Project Team members and contractors (Marine and Coastal Research, Corp.) have been busy getting the project off the ground. The first Project Team meeting was held on August 5th and much of the discussion centered on the class format: classroom (in person) versus online. While there are merits and disadvantages to both formats, the project is proceeding in developing a classroom format. The contractors have researched the existing legal frameworks and processes relative to fishing, diving, and boating violations. With the advice of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Project Team members, the class will be developed for non-criminal (misdemeanor) infractions. Additionally, due to the unlikelihood of changing current statutes to make the class a requirement, it will remain voluntary and at the discretion of the ticketing officer or judge.

The FDOU Project Coordinator and contractors attended two classroom programs similar to the FDOU Project 2, 5, 6, & 7 vision, Biscayne National Park’s (BNP) “Fisheries Awareness Program” on September 8th, and Court Options (CO) “Florida Fish & Wildlife Curriculum” on September 16th. The BNP class is a federal court sanctioned educational program that serves as a mitigation option for fishers who receive non-criminal fisheries violations with the Park. CO has developed a classroom and online version of state court sanctioned educational program that serves as a mitigation option for fishers who receive criminal (felony) fishing and hunting violations within Monroe, Miami-Dade, and Broward counties. A new task for this project, creating a partnership with agencies/organizations already implementing similar programs in the region, will promote cohesive messaging and help all entities achieve their educational missions.

FDOU Project 2, 5, 6, & 7 class curriculum is currently in development, in collaboration with BNP and CO. Once the development of the class is complete in June, future work to implement (teach) the class will begin, as well as research and planning to make the class a regulatory requirement for non-criminal fishing, diving, and boating violations.



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