I have a new pet peeve. It’s lobster traps in the ICW. As we are originally from Maryland and have spent a lifetime boating on the Chesapeake Bay, we are familiar with crab pots and the floats that accompany them. However, in Maryland there is a rule prohibiting crab pots from marked channels.
As we cruised the Florida Keys recently, we encountered thousands, if not tens of thousand of lobster traps directly within the marked channel of the ICW. I thought to myself, “Self, there ought to be a law against this.” On most modern GPS/Chartplotters, there is a thing we call the Magenta Line. It designates the center of the ICW channel. We travel it often on the west coast of Florida and never encounter traps or pots of any kind. In the Keys, especially between Marathon and Islamorada, that magenta line is thoroughly carpeted with an almost infinite number of lobster traps.
It’s difficult to get a photo that shows the true extent. The sheer number of floats and their close proximity is a clear hazard to navigation. I don’t understand why a waterman would risk his gear by placing it in a high traffic area where he knows there is a good chance it will get tangled in a passing boats running gear.
I decided today, to look into the rules that govern the placement of lobster traps in Florida. Sure enough, there is a prohibition against putting them in the ICW.
Rule Title: Importation of Spiny Lobster; Documentation and Other Requirements
Department: FISH AND WILDLIFE CONSERVATION COMMISSION
Division: Marine Fisheries
Chapter: SPINY LOBSTER (CRAWFISH) AND SLIPPER LOBSTER
68B-24.007 Other Prohibitions.
(3) No spiny lobster traps shall be set, placed, or caused to be set or placed at, on, or below the waters of the state within 100 feet of the intracoastal waterway or within 100 feet of any bridge or sea wall.
That seem pretty clear to me. So does the fact that the FWC is not enforcing this in any way. Maybe someone with more influence than myself can pass the word along. A clear-cut, sensible regulation is being brazenly violated and the FWC seems to be turning a blind eye. I’m not talking about a stray trap here and there. I’m talking about many thousands of traps. Sometimes they are so close your vessel gets boxed in and you can’t escape without running dangerously close to them.
Who wants to start some sort of campaign? I’m with you.