• Two Boynton Beach men have been assessed thousands in federal civil fines for attempting to sell a 700-plus pound bluefin tuna last June without the required permits. The NOAA Fisheries Office of the General Counsel cited David Fidel for allegedly transferring the fish to Mikylo Senkowicz to sell even though Fidel wasn’t permitted to sell it and Senkowicz didn’t have a dealer permit. The bluefin — perhaps the most regulated fish species on earth — reportedly was caught during a day-dropping trip targeting swordfish, and photos of the catch were put up on social media. The notice of violation and administrative penalty dated July 30 assesses Fidel $12,500 and Senkowicz $15,000 in fines. In addition, NOAA seized $2,260 from the sale of the fish. The men have 30 days to either pay the fines, seek to lower them or request a hearing before an administrative law judge.
• NOAA Fisheries has issued a final rule opening a new permitting program to allow commercial sale of Atlantic swordfish caught on rod and reel in 2014. But don’t expect a rush to buy the $20 permits in Southeast Florida when they become available in November. That’s because Amendment 8 to the Highly Migratory Species Management Plan imposes a zero-fish retention limit for the Florida Swordfish Management Area that extends from Cocoa Beach south to the northwestern boundary of Monroe County. Retention limits are three fish in the Northwest Atlantic, three in the Gulf and two in the U.S. Caribbean. NOAA says those limits can be reexamined in the future and adjusted in-season. Amendment 8 does not affect Southeast Florida’s buoy gear swordfishery. Local commercial swordfishers are expected to cheer the new rule because they weren’t keen at the prospect of hundreds of new rod-and-reel anglers crowding Southeast Florida’s offshore fishing grounds. NOAA says Amendment 8 is intended to help the United States fulfill its domestic swordfish quota, which hasn’t been met in years.
In other action, the federal fisheries management agency has rejected a petition to list the whale shark as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act. In what it calls a “90-day finding,” NOAA said the petition did not present substantial information indicating that additional protections for the world’s largest fish are warranted.
• Eight Florida youth sailors, including three locals, scored podium finishes in the U.S. Youth Sailing Championships that concluded last week in Corpus Christi, Texas. Skipper Duncan Williford of Fort Lauderdale teamed with crew Matthew Mollerus of Larchmont, N.Y., to take the top spot in the 29er class. Two Miami Yacht Club sailors, Raul Coqui Lopez and Maximo Nores, finished second and third, respectively, in RS:X windsurfers. Palm Beach’s Wade Waddell was the first-place skipper with crew Henry Fernberger in International 420s. Luke Muller of Fort Pierce was top Radial sailor, and his brother Nic came in third with crew Kai Friesecke in 29ers. The Sarasota-area team of Ravi Parent and Nico Schultz dominated the F16 class. For most of the seven classes, the event served as a mandatory U.S. qualifier for the 2014 ISAF Youth Worlds Team.
• Continued high water in the Everglades has prompted the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to impose restrictions at three public hunting grounds. The FWC has issued an executive order to temporarily restrict public access to Everglades & Francis S. Taylor, Holey Land and Rotenberger wildlife management areas. Until further notice, no vehicles, airboats or buggies are allowed, and no game animals may be taken in those areas. However, access to Conservation Area 2A from the L-35B levee north to the east-west airboat trail is still permitted. Alligator hunting, frogging and bird hunting are allowed, and anglers may still fish in boats in the canals. For more information, visit myFWC.com/DisasterPlan.