Citations to be issued for fishing violations on PAFB, CCAFS beginning April 1

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Beginning April 1, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will begin writing citations for illegal fishing practices, including those who violate the law on Patrick Air Force Base and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Disobeying state fishing laws can result in criminal charges and even jail time, depending on the severity of the offense. For reference, fishing without a license is a non-criminal offense, and is punishable by a $50.00 fine plus the cost of the license. Furthermore, citations involving size and bag limits of saltwater fish are misdemeanor (criminal) offenses that typically carry penalties including fines up to $500 and/or 60 days in jail.

“Fishing in Florida generally requires a license as required by state law,” said Captain Travis Franklin, FWC area supervisor for Brevard, Indian River and Osceola counties. “There are statutory exemptions for senior citizens and minors, along with concessions for military personnel.”

Franklin said fishing licenses can be acquired for as little as $17.00 for Florida residents. These licenses can be obtained through a variety of locations, including county tax collector offices, retail stores and even digitally through their website.

Captain Franklin said there are additional licenses for snook, lobster, and tarpon. He emphasized that not knowing the law is not an excuse for breaking it.

Michael Blaylock, 45th Civil Engineer Squadron chief of environmental conservation, said there have been instances on Patrick Air Force Base where FWC officers have helped a person sign up for the correct permit on-site as they were conducting a search.

“Not only are we accomplishing the goal of ensuring our fishermen are properly licensed, but we are also educating them about protecting natural resources. This helps everyone as we can help our fishermen stay out of trouble while also protecting our local fish populace from the issue of overfishing.”

Blaylock said licenses are usually valid one year from the date of issue, excluding short-term non-resident and lifetime-resident licenses. Furthermore, there are different licenses for freshwater and saltwater fishing, and this is an issue he said he runs into frequently.

“There have been times where, upon inspection, we’ve found illegally-caught saltwater fish,” he said. “Other times, we’ve seen individuals cleaning and dressing their fish on site, which is also a violation of the law, because it affords the opportunity for individuals to hide evidence of illegal fishing.”

Blaylock continued and said the licenses are not only necessary because it’s the law, but they also help ensure and instill a median-level of knowledge for each license holder.

“When you learn how to drive, they don’t just give you a driver’s license, do they?” he said. “No. A driver has to learn the rules of the road, how to operate the vehicle and proper driving etiquette. It is our goal to have fishermen take the same approach with this license.”

For more information, including a full list of the fishing laws and regulations in Florida, visit the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website at http://myfwc.com/.