FWC assisting Southwest Florida with Hurricane Ian recovery efforts

Rodney Barreto, Chairman of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

In the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, the focus of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) was on search and rescue, cleanup, and the safety of Florida’s residents and visitors. Since then, the FWC has sent three waves of officers to assist with recovery efforts for the communities in the Southwest as well as establish a hotline for reporting displaced vessels still on Florida state waters because of Hurricane Ian.

When Hurricane Ian swept across the state, thousands of vessels were displaced by wind and storm surge. The FWC and partner agencies are working with vessel owners to remove or relocate these vessels. To assist with this initiative, we encourage the public to report vessels on Florida waters that are displaced or damaged by calling the FWC’s Hurricane Ian Vessel Hotline at 850-488-5600, Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. 

Getting Florida’s commercial fishing industry, the assistance they need to recover from Hurricane Ian is also a top priority. Hurricane Ian impacted a major portion of the Florida fishing community, and we will be with them every step of the way as they rebuild stronger than before. As we work with our partners and stakeholders to identify the needs of commercial fishermen impacted by this powerful storm, we will continue to use all available resources to support them. 

An Executive Order to waive commercial lobster trap tag requirements statewide was filed. To assist these commercial fishermen in their return to business, all spiny lobster traps in or on Florida waters are not required to have a current-year trap tag for the remainder of the 2022-2023 commercial spiny lobster season. 

Additionally, stone crab trap tag requirements have been waived in the Northeast and Southwest areas of the state. Effective immediately, commercial fishermen licensed to harvest stone crabs with traps are not required to affix trap tags to their traps in state and federal waters off St. Johns, Putnam, Flagler, Volusia, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte, Lee, and Collier counties. However, trap tags are still required on commercial stone crab traps in all other state and federal waters off Florida.

The impacts of Hurricane Ian will be felt for years to come. I am proud of the hard work the FWC’s Division of Law Enforcement has done and continues to do for the people of Southwest Florida. I’m also very proud of the staff that worked hard on the executive orders that will help fishermen get back on their feet and back in the water as quickly as possible, ultimately stimulating the economy in areas of the state which are most in need after Ian’s devastating impacts. 

The FWC will continue to work diligently to assist the communities in the Southwest and help the commercial fishing industry get back to work while ensuring the conservation of our resources.

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