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FWC to ban the harvest/possession of tropical aquarium species at the Blue Heron Bridge

Posted: 6:38 AM, Feb 20, 2019
Updated: 2019-02-20 21:57:03Z

UPDATE: At an FWC Commission meeting Wednesday commissioners approved prohibiting the harvest/possession of tropical aquarium species at the Blue Heron Bridge dive site effective April 1, 2019.

RELATED: Florida clamps down on shore-based shark fishing

EARLIER:

RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. -- The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation and Commission is looking at a final vote on a couple of agenda items, including banning the removal of exotic fish from under the Blue Heron Bridge and shark fishing.

The agency's regularly scheduled commission meeting is set to take place Wednesday.

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Phil Foster Park is a hot spot for snorkeling and finding beautiful, bright-colored fish. However, in recent years, groups were being allowed to take marine life from the park for educational purposes.

The site is one of the top 50 best dive sites in the world, according to FWC.

A county ordinance prohibits the collection of tropical fish from the area but in October, FWC issued a permit to Moody Gardens -- an amusement park in Galveston, Texas -- to permanently retain more than 4,000 fish.

The program was put on hold following that collection, after several complaints.

The county said they have been working with FWC for the past year to exclude the Blue Heron Bridge area as a collection site.

Now, the FWC will take a final vote on labeling the area as protected and banning anyone from collecting marine life.

Changes to shark fishing?

The other issue FWC will address is possible new regulations to land-based shark fishing and anglers who haul sharks on-shore.

This issue was brought about by "anxiety” among beachgoers, according to FWC.

Possible changes include the ban of “chumming” on beaches, which is when people put fish bones and blood into the water to lure sharks.

The agency will also look at enforcing people who cast for sharks from land to get a no-cost permit every year that requires taking an online educational program.

Other changes include required certain gear for shark fishing and another requirement that if anyone is doing catch and release of sharks -- that they keep the sharks wet while being released.

The commission has said fishing hasn’t impacted shark populations. The state has worked to rebuild and maintain those numbers.

The meeting begins at 8:30 a.m.

WPTV will keep you posted on the results of FWC's final vote.