Florida Keys Boating and Fishing Tips

Before heading out, check weather conditions. Strong winds and rough seas can result in poor visibility and reduce safe interaction at the reef.

Dumping trash at sea is illegal; plastic bags and other debris can injure or kill marine animals. Bring your trash back to shore and recycle it. Try to retrieve fishing gear and equipment, especially monofilament line.

Use sewage pump-out facility and biodegradable bilge cleaner and never discharge bilge water at the reef.

Fishermen, do not troll over or near divers. Stay at least 100 feet from a red and white diver down flag and watch for bubbles.

Florida law requires a fishing license. Applicable size, bag limits, and seasons must be observed when harvesting seafood. Release all the fish you cannot eat.

Don't throw fish carcasses or wrung lobsters overboard or into canals as they decompose and degrade water quality.

Use reef mooring buoys or anchor in sandy areas away from coral and seagrasses so that anchor, chain, and line do not contact or damage coral or seagrasses.

Accidental boat groundings damage coral and seagrasses. Consult tide and navigational charts and steer clear of shallow areas. Fine are imposed for such damage.

Avoid areas which appear brown in color. Shallow reef areas and seagrass beds will appear brown.

If you run aground; immediately turn the engine off, and tilt it up if possible. Do not try to motor off. Wait until high tide to remove the vessel. Call for assistance when necessary.

When in a diving area, slow down to an idle speed.

Avoid wildlife disturbance; stay 100 yards or more offshore; keep speed, noise and wakes to a minimum near mangroves.

Camping, campfires and collecting of any kind are prohibited in all National Wildlife Refuges. Personal watercraft and airboats are illegal in all National Parks and Wildlife Refuges in the Florida Keys.

Other rules and regulations apply in various areas of the Florida Keys. Check with the appropriate governing agencies.

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