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Group of divers one step closer to getting exotic fish removal banned under the Blue Heron Bridge

Posted at 11:10 PM, Nov 07, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-08 09:16:12-05

A group of avid divers is one step closer to preserving exotic sea life at a snorkeling hot spot. In December, Florida Fish and Wildlife commissioners will decide whether or not to classify an area under the Blue Heron Bridge as protected.

“Many people have tried to get this area protected,” said Jim Abernethy.

The underwater estuary is a diver’s paradise.

Special Section: Protecting Paradise

“Top 50 diving sites in the world,” said Abernethy. 

Currently, the county prohibits anyone from collecting fish from the area, but before recent complaints, FWC was handing out permits to groups wanting to gather sealife for educational purposes. However, they have since put that program on hold.

“We just want no collecting of aquatic marine life,” said Jeff Nelson.

Nelson works just down the street at Force-E Scuba. Twice a month the shop hosts a night dive under the Blue Heron Bridge.  

“In June I actually started the blue heron preservation initiative on Facebook,” said Nelson.

The Facebook Page has 338 members, all passionate about keeping the area a popular diving location.

“You know I moved to Florida because and I picked where to live in Florida so I would have easy access to this diving area,” said diver Jeff Haines.

In the past, people have tried to get it classified as a sanctuary,

“And that really is not fair to the fishermen, the boaters,” said Nelson.

So next month Nelson and a group of divers will go directly to FWC and ask them to label the area as protected, which would prevent anyone from receiving a permit but still give access to boaters and beachgoers.

“We’re still going to take care of the area, we’re still going to keep fighting for it, the fish need a voice,” said Nelson.

FWC commissioners are set to meet December 12 and 13. The topic of preserving the sealife under the Blue Heron Bridge will be discussed.