>> If there any natural fresh water there [in the Florida Keys] ?
>> or brackish? Does anyone know the laws regarding
>> collecting in either fresh or salt water, plants, fish,
> > and/or inverts.
I haven't actually tried to collect down there, so I'm not 100% sure on this.
I doubt there's much of any natural fresh surface water in most of the keys, it's going to be pretty much just marine to extreme brackish.
Check the Florida Fish and wildlife Conservation Commission web-site for state regulations regarding fresh and salt water fishing/collecting. A specific document regarding limits and sizes can be found at http://www.fcn.state.fl.us/gfc/marine/flines.htm , which has a section entitled "Ornamental Tropical Fish and Plants" which lists (current) bag limits for such fish and inverts. Seems like last time I checked this out, I was unable to find the (a) statutory definition for quote "ornamental fish" unquote, so I assume it's likely to be interpreted in the field as meaning "any and all fish of possible interest to a hobbyist." (Or, as Sgt. BubbaJoe says ""If it ain't on ice, it's ornamental." ) Current regs are summarized as 20 fish/inverts and 1 gal of plants, with no more than 5 angelfish or 6 octocorals, per person per day, and there are specific slotting size limits on some species.
(N.B., That's the recreational fishing regs. FYI, "commercial" is defined as "the taking or harvesting of saltwater products for purposes of sale or with intent to sell, or in excess of established bag limits." And I just had a sudden thought that any hobbyist (to us) who's ever sold a fish via AquaBid could potentially deemed (by the enforcement people) to be taking fish "with intent to sell", unless he/she could "prove" the critters being kept were solely intended for personal use.)
Off-shore there may also be federal regs to consider, if you're heading out in a boat .... Pennekamp for example is a National Park, and I have it in mind that the inventory of state and federal protected areas has grown in recent years, concurrent with the increased public awareness of how fragile & endangered these environments are.
Due a long history of abusive and unconscionable harvesting, enforcement of the collecting regs in the keys is now anecdotally reportedly as intense and pretty humorless. I expect that in the not too distant future, all the Keys and near-shore fauna will be under "enjoy the views but leave it all here" rules, the only question is whether those'll be put in place soon enough to help.
Lots of nice fish & stuff to be sought on the mainland in up-state Florida, of course, if you're traveling through on an annual basis!!!
Interlachen (north-east) Florida
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