Friday, December 10, 2010

SAFMC Conclude Large Area Closure Unnecessary for Recovery of Red Snapper Stock


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                    CONTACT:  Kim Iverson
December 10, 2010                                      Public Information Officer
                                                                     Toll Free 866/SAFMC-10 or 843/571-4366


Red Snapper Moratorium to Remain but
Managers Find Large Area Closure Unnecessary

     Members of the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, meeting in New Bern, NC this week, concluded that a 4,800-square mile area closure off the coast of southern Georgia and north/central Florida where the harvest of snapper grouper species would be prohibited is unnecessary.   The area closure, included in Amendment 17A to the Snapper Grouper Fishery Management Plan, was initially proposed by the Council to further reduce the fishing mortality of red snapper by restricting fishing for 73 species of snappers, groupers, grunts, triggerfish, and other species in the snapper grouper management complex that commonly co-occur with red snapper.
     Management measures in Amendment 17A are designed to end overfishing of red snapper as mandated by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.  Measures in the amendment approved by the Secretary of Commerce on December 3, 2010, continue a moratorium on the harvest of red snapper for both commercial and recreational fishermen in federal waters (ranging from 3 to 200 miles) throughout the South Atlantic region.
     Regulations in Amendment 17A implementing the area closure were delayed by NOAA Fisheries Service, giving the Council time to review information from a new red snapper stock assessment completed in October 2010.  In anticipation of the new stock assessment, the Council had requested staff begin to develop Regulatory Amendment 10 to look at options for modifying the area closure if necessary.  Regulatory Amendment 10 includes various alternatives, which the Council considered, including an alternative to eliminate the area closure.
     After reviewing the alternatives in Regulatory Amendment 10 and the latest scientific information, and considering public comment received at the meeting, the Council voted to approve the alternative in the regulatory amendment that will eliminate the area closure. The unanimous decision was made after considering recent data relative to the updated stock assessment for red snapper and other factors influencing the harvest of red snapper.
     “The Council considered a number of factors before deciding to eliminate the area closure off southern Georgia and the north/central coast of Florida,” said Council Chairman David Cupka. “We considered the reductions required by the new stock assessment, the impacts of the current prohibition on red snapper, the reduction in fishing trips as documented by the most recent recreational data, comments received from hundreds of fishermen regarding the larger numbers of red snapper available and the effects of the downturn in the economy that have negatively impacted fishing activities.”
      According to the recent stock assessment, a 70% reduction in fishing mortality (including dead discards) is required to end overfishing for red snapper. Initial analyses incorporating effort reductions from recent regulations suggested the moratorium on fishing for red snapper was not adequate to end overfishing.   However, reductions in effort are possibly greater than expected from regulatory impacts alone and the decline in recreational red snapper mortality under the moratorium during 2010 may be greater than initially estimated.  For example, the most recent preliminary data from the Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) for the private and charter sectors, including January through August 2010, show a 33% decline in fishing trips in the South Atlantic region compared to 2007-2009 and about an 80% decline in red snapper mortality.  This reduction in fishing effort is consistent with fishermen’s reports and possibly reflects the current economic downturn, while the decline in mortality may reflect fishermen's efforts to avoid red snapper.  Incorporating the mortality reductions observed in the 2010 preliminary MRIP data suggested the current moratorium could provide as much as a 77% reduction in total mortality.
      “The Council will continue to closely monitor the Fishery Independent Sampling Program now in place for red snapper to follow the results of the continued moratorium on the harvest of red snapper,” explained Chairman Cupka.  “We are hopeful that the stock assessment scheduled for 2013 will show a marked improvement in the red snapper stock and managers will be able to allow some harvest as the stock continues to rebuild.”
                                                                                                        
The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, one of eight regional councils, conserves and manages fish stocks from three to 200 miles offshore of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and east Florida.

Cold Weather May Lead to Fish Kills

Remember last January when there was a long cold spell in our region? During that time there were a lot of fish kills because of the prolonged cold weather. Well, now that we are experiencing that cold weather again, there could be the chance of fish kills in our local waters. Even though there may be more fish kills because of the colder than normal weather there is no cause for alarm or concern. These are natural occurrences and generally do not cause permanent damage to the ecosystem or to fish populations. It actually could be beneficial in that it helps to limit the spread of invasive, exotic species.
Fish kills are often caused by sudden temperature changes or by extended periods of extreme temperatures. This can occur anytime of year in Florida but most commonly occurs in the winter when the air temperature drops. Even though the water does stay relatively warm after the air cools, if there is an extended period of cold this can cause the water temperatures in inland waters and estuaries to drop. The fish may be killed outright by cold stress or the cold may just weaken them so they are more susceptible to disease. Warm-water species, including snook (native) and tilapia (exotic) are particularly vulnerable to cold temperatures.
Fish affected by the cold may appear lethargic and may be seen at the surface where the water may be warmer from the sun. All recreational regulations still apply to fish impacted by the cold temperatures, even if they appear to be dead or dying. It's important for Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) scientists to keep track of the location and extent of fish kills in natural water bodies in order to determine if there are problems developing in the ecosystem that might require further investigation. Although it is not necessary to report fish kills in private ponds, FWC scientists can assist the public by providing information about cold-weather fish kills in these ponds.
The public can report fish kills in natural water bodies (lakes, estuaries, rivers) to the FWC at http://research.MyFWC.com/fishkill/submit.asp or call the FWC Fish Kill Hotline at 800-636-0511. For more information on fish kills, visit http://research.MyFWC.com and select "Fish and Wildlife Health" under the "Explore" section.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Florida Master Naturalist Classes Being Held in 2011


Do you want to learn more about native Florida?  Do you wish you could go on all the fun trips that the kids normally get to experience?  Are you looking for CEU’s or In-Service Credits?  Do you just want to get outside and have some fun?  Florida Master Naturalist Program classes are online for registration in Brevard County at Riverwalk: A Family Park.  Explore rare coastal hammocks, paddle through area wetlands, poke around at the life teeming under the Indian River Lagoon, and much, much more.  
Get 40 contact hours of classroom and field experience exploring Florida ecosystems.  Class fees include all trip costs, a 1,000+ page student book filled with information, a Master Naturalist patch, pin, and certificate.  Successful graduates are also registered into the UF/IFAS Master Naturalist database as a certified Master Naturalist in each module’s area of study. 
The Wetlands module starts February 5th, while the Coastal Module begins April 2nd.  Each module runs for 7 Saturdays.  The cost is $225 per person.  Come join us for your favorite module or experience more of what Florida has to offer by taking both.  Create some great memories while meeting new people and learn a little something in the process. 
Go to www.MasterNaturalist.org for more information and to register today.  Registration closes one week before the first class of each module.  Contact the primary instructor, Brandon Smith, at riverwalk@brevardparks.com or 321-433-4490 with any specific questions.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Local Seafood Class This Wednesday Evening!

A Local Seafood Class is being offered this Wednesday, December 8th at the Brevard County Extension Office at 3695 Lake Drive, Cocoa, FL. This class was first offered in August 2010 and was a huge success with 43 people attending! Cost to attend is $10 and includes a cooking demonstration with tasting of the recipes shown. Please pre-register at http://brevard.ifas.ufl.edu by clicking on the Class Registration link at the top of the left column. We hope to see you there!

NOAA Fisheries Service Announces the Publication of a Final Rule Intended to End Overfishing of Red Snapper in the South Atlantic

On December 3rd, the NOAA Fisheries Service published a final rule to implement Amendment 17A to the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region, which addresses overfishing of red snapper in the South Atlantic. Important dates to remember:
  • The prohibition on all harvest and possession of red snapper is effective immediately, December 3, 2010.
  • The snapper-grouper area closure has been delayed until June 1, 2011. This is to allow time for the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council to consider the results of a new red snapper stock assessment completed in late October 2010. Based on the stock assessment, changes may be made to the current closure area.
  • The requirement to use non-stainless steel circle hooks north of 28 degrees N. latitude is effective March 3, 2011.
Electronic copies of Amendment 17A may be obtained from the NOAA Fisheries Service Web site at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov, the e-Rulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov docket number NOAA-NMFS-2010-0035, the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council's Web site at http://www.safmc.net, or for hard copies contact:
NOAA Fisheries Service
Southeast Regional Office
Sustainable Fisheries Division
263 13th Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33701

Monday, November 22, 2010

FMNP Upland Habitats Course Completed!

The graduating class!
FMNP participants learn about how fire has affected the plants and habitat at Cruickshank Sanctuary
Florida Master Naturalist Upland Habitats course participants graduated this past Saturday. The class was held every Saturday over 6 weeks with one week off so they could finish their class projects. All participants of the class must do a project as their final task before graduating. This class had a variety of projects including a Make It Take It postcard display for the Enchanted Forest Sanctuary in Titusville, a Helen and Allan Cruickshank Sanctuary poster on the Florida Scrub Jay which inhabits this sanctuary, and an Erna Nixon Park self guided tour booklet. The class went on three field trips to the sanctuaries and park listed above and learned about the habitat and organisms found at each location. It was a great learning experience for the participants and for me since this was my first time teaching this course. To learn more about the Florida Master Naturalist program visit http://www.masternaturalist.ifas.ufl.edu/. We will be offering a Freshwater Wetlands course starting in February and a Coastal Systems course starting in April. The schedules and registration for these classes should be up on the website soon.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Secretary of Commerce Approves Amendment 17A to End Overfishing of Red Snapper

The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) received notification on October 27th that the Secretary of Commerce gave final approval to Amendment 17A to the Snapper Grouper Fishery Management Plan. The amendment action plans include:
  • Annual catch limit and accountability measures for red snapper in the South Atlantic
  • A rebuilding plan for red snapper
  • A prohibition on all harvest and possession of South Atlantic red snapper
  • An area closure off southern George and north/central Florida where fishing for all snapper grouper species will be prohibited, except when using spearfishing gear or black sea bass pots to fish for species other than red snapper
  • A requirement for circle hooks in the snapper grouper fishery north of 28 degrees N. latitude
  • A requirement for a program to monitor red snapper
According to the letter sent to the Council, "the final rule to implement Amendment 17A will likely publish in the Federal Register in the second-half of November". Until this final rule is published the actual date that the regulations will be implemented is unknown.
The measures currently in Amendment 17A are based on a 2008 stock assessment for red snapper conducted through the Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review (SEDAR) program. But a new stock assessment was recently completed for red snapper that includes updated information on red snapper. The assessment (known as SEDAR 24) will be reviewed by the Scientific and Statistical Committee in November before being presented to SAFMC in December, but preliminary results show the stock may be improving.  SEDAR 24 includes data through 2009 with significant additional age samples in the updated assessment. "While the red snapper stock remains overfished and overfishing continues, the three additional years of data and increased age sampling intensity, along with indications of a very good year class, and the impacts of the current regulations in place, have combined to show improvement in the stock," said John Carmichael, the SAFMC's Science and Statistics Program Manager and SEDAR program coordinator. Other modifications to the new assessment include some changes in the estimates of historical recreational catches, changes to estimates for bycatch mortality, and changes in fishery selectivity patterns. Both commercial and recreational fishermen participated in the 3-step series of workshops, including a week-long Data Workshop held in May, a series of webinars for the Assessment Workshop, and the Review Workshop held in mid-October.  
The SAFMC developed preliminary options for modifications to the area closure during its September meeting that would depend on the information in the new stock assessment. The options are being included in Regulatory Amendment 10 and will be reviewed again by SAFMC during its December meeting. The regulatory amendment process would allow SAFMC to expedite any changes more quickly through the management process.
For more information and other news, visit the SAFMC Fall 2010 newsletter, South Atlantic Update.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

New Florida Center for Ocean Education to be based at Indian River State College


Recently Indian River State College announced a new Center for Ocean Science Education Excellence (COSEE) that will be based at the college in Fort Pierce. This is very exciting news for the coastal and ocean science and education communities. Below is the press release. 

FORT PIERCE, FL -- With environmental crises like the Gulf oil spill impacting marine life and coastal systems, scientists and citizens are increasingly aware of the importance of clean and flourishing marine ecosystems.  Florida is taking a major step toward public understanding of the ocean with the new Center for Ocean Science Education Excellence (COSEE) to be based at Indian River State College (IRSC) in Fort Pierce in collaboration with the Smithsonian Marine Station, Florida Institute of Technology, and the Ocean Research and Conservation Association (ORCA). 
The University of Florida Sea Grant Extension Program will be involved in community outreach across the state and Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute/Florida Atlantic University will provide scientific expertise and mentoring on Florida’s Treasure Coast.
COSEE Florida will help students, educators and people of all ages develop a better understanding of how ocean and coastal systems work.  The Center will be funded by prestigious National Science Foundation grants totaling $2.8 million to IRSC and its partners over a five year period.
As a state with approximately 1,400 miles of saltwater coastline, Florida’s lack of a COSEE Center has been a major gap in coverage of East Coast ocean research.
                “Understanding and maintaining the ocean and coastal regions of Florida is vitally important to the environmental and economic well-being of our State,” said Dr. Edwin R. Massey, IRSC President. “The COSEE Center based at IRSC will ensure that Florida’s scientists, educators, students and citizens are well-prepared to work together to address the challenges of our marine ecosystem and foster a healthy environment for those who live in Florida or visit our state.” 
                Dr. Massey, who holds a Ph.D. in Zoology with emphasis in Marine Biology, will serve as Lead Principal Investigator for the project. Dr. Susan B. Cook, Harbor Branch’s former Education Director, has joined IRSC as the COSEE Florida Project Director and Co-Principal Investigator for the grant.
COSEE Florida will take a three-pronged approach: 
·         Offering workshops across the state to engage ocean scientists and help them effectively communicate their discoveries and the relevance of their ground-breaking research to non-scientific audiences 
·         Designing and disseminating a new ocean-based curriculum for college students planning to teach middle school science 
·         Creating an eight-region Florida Ocean Science Learning Network offering public programs that focus on regional and statewide challenges such as pollution in the Indian River Lagoon or the impact of ocean processes on dolphins, turtles and other animals.
                According to Dr. Cook, “COSEE Florida’s work will give Floridians a much better understanding of the discoveries that ocean scientists are making every day and why that knowledge is relevant to their daily lives and the environmental challenges facing the state. Ocean researchers, higher education faculty and graduate students who participate in the extensive workshop series will become more skilled at explaining their work to a range of audiences. They will become more knowledgeable about engaging nonscientists in research and better prepared to make mutually beneficial connections with teachers, school districts and education centers.”
At IRSC, education majors will develop a deeper understanding of the ocean system, biodiversity and methods used to foster critical thinking among their students. Ocean science content will be added to the IRSC Bachelor’s degree program in middle school science, and, starting in May, IRSC education students will intern with research scientists on the Treasure Coast.  
“Through their collaboration with ocean scientists, these future teachers will gain a better appreciation for the scientific process and will learn how to translate their experience and new knowledge into classroom activities,” said Dr. Richard Tankersley, Professor of Biological Sciences, Florida Institute of Technology and a Principal Investigator for the project.
Dr. Valerie Paul, Director and Chief Scientist, Smithsonian Marine Station, and Dr, Edith Widder, CEO/President/Senior Scientist for ORCA, will also serve as Principal Investigators.
                Reaching out to the public, COSEE Florida will bring scientists, educators and people of all ages together under the theme Water as Habitat. Ocean-based presentations and workshops will generate interest in the marine ecosystem, stimulate community discussion and increase awareness of the value of scientific knowledge in environmental decision making.  
COSEE Florida will be based at the IRSC Science Center at the Main Campus in Fort Pierce, Florida  and will join the national network of 12 centers and a Central Coordinating Office funded by the National Science Foundation’s Division of Ocean Sciences. 
                For more information, call IRSC at (772) 462-7503.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Indian River Lagoon Day 2010

Indian River Lagoon Day 2010 is this Saturday, Nov 6th, from 11am-4pm at Riverfront Park, 104 Riveredge Blvd., Cocoa Village. This will be the place to have fun while learning about the most biologically diverse estuary in North America. Florida Tech's SEAS (Science Exploration at Sea) mobile laboratory will be at the event and offering a unique view of life in the lagoon. Anglers for Conservation will host its "Hook Kids on Fishing" program, where professional guides provide kids ages 6 to 16 with advice on casting, conservation, fishing safety, knot tying, and catch-and-release techniques. A limited number of rods , reels and tackle boxes will be given to early participants. Dozens of organizations will be on hand to share information and answer questions about local wildlife, recreation and volunteer opportunities throughout the lagoon region.

Also on Nov 6th there will be a Indian River Lagoon 20th Anniversary Conference from 9am-5pm at the Cocoa Civic Center, 434 Delannoy Ave., Cocoa Village. There will be presentations on the lagoon’s health, protection efforts, threats to the lagoon, wildlife, research and things you can do to protect the lagoon. To see the schedule of speakers and events visit http://sjr.state.fl.us/irlupdate/2010fall/schedule.html. All day in the kids’ area in Conference room #2, visitors will have a chance to participate in and see demonstrations of the EnviroScape watershed model, play Indian River Lagoon ‘Jeopardy’ and the seagrass bag toss. 

For more information about the event visit http://sjr.state.fl.us/irlupdate/2010fall/index.html#2

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Atlantic vermilion snapper and southern Fla. spotted seatrout seasons close Nov. 1

Vermilion Snapper
Spotted Seatrout
A recent news release from FWC announces that the recreational harvest seasons for vermilion snapper in Atlantic coastal waters off FL and spotted seatrout in southern FL waters will close on Nov 1st. These closures are intended to reduce overfishing and increase the population of both vermilion snapper and maintain the population of spotted seatrout. All recreational harvest and possession of vermilion snapper is prohibited in Atlantic state and federal waters off Florida from Nov 1st until April 1st. For spotted seatrout, all harvest and possession of these fish is prohibited from Nov 1st through Dec 31st in all waters south of Flagler/Volusia counties line in the Atlantic and south of a line running due west from the westernmost point of Fred Howard Park Causeway, which is about 1.17 miles south of the Pinellas/Pasco counties line in the Gulf of Mexico. The recreational harvest of spotted seatrout in northeast and northwest Florida waters will remain open until February. For more information visit http://myfwc.com/fishing 

Monday, October 18, 2010

SAFMC Snapper Grouper Amendment 18A Public Hearings

The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council is holding public hearings on Snapper Grouper Amendment 18A. The closest meeting is on October 27th at the Hampton Inn Daytona Speedway, 1715 W. International Blvd., Daytona Beach, FL from 4-7pm. Members of the public are invited to attend the hearings, learn more about the issues from Council staff and provide formal comments to area Council members in attendance. Written comments will be accepted until November 12th and can be sent via email to: SGAmend18AComments@safmc.net or hard copies to: Robert K. Mahood, Executive Director, South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, 4055 Faber Place Drive, Suite 201, N. Charleston, SC, 29405.

Amendment 18A primarily focuses on measures for the commercial golden tilefish and black sea bass fisheries to account for anticipated effort shifts to those fisheries as regulations become more restrictive for other snapper grouper species: Proposed actions:
  1. Limit participation in the commercial golden tilefish fishery through a gear endorsement program (hook & line and longline): establish criteria for transferability of endorsements and trip limits for fishermen who do not receive an endorsement
  2. Change the golden tilefish fishing year, modify commercial trip limits, and allocate the commercial quota between gear types
  3. Modify the black sea bass fishery to limit participation and effort and reduce bycatch in the fishery, including: limits to tag distribution and the number of tags/pots a fisherman can deploy and limiting the time period pots can be deployed
  4. Methods to improve the accuracy, timing and quantity of fisheries data (for both for-hire and commericial fisheries).
Copies of the Amendment 18A Public Hearing Document will be posted on the Council's website at www.safmc.net or available from the Council office by October 22nd.

Canaveral Lock Closure Starts in December

Picture courtesy of www.portcanaveral.com
The Canaveral Lock will be closed for dewatering to install a new Manatee Protection System beginning December 27th. The new system being installed is to replace an existing, unreliable system that is required by state law to be operational during the gate operation process. The work is planned to proceed on December 27th, one week earlier than the January 2011 start date previously anticipated, and will be closed through February 24th. The lock will be reopened for a NASA launch from February 25th through March 14th. The lock will be closed from March 15th through April 22nd to complete the Manatee Protections System Installation. It will be reopened on April 23rd. The exact closure dates are tentative and are based on the current NASA launch schedule and USFWS and FWC approvals. If any dates are changed, a new Notice of Navigation will be issued when the new closure dates have been determined. Please call the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at 904-232-2103 (Aaron Kelly) for the latest information regarding the lock status. Information will also be updated at the Jacksonville District web site at http://www.saj.usace.army.mil and choosing the OPERATIONS DIVISION tab and selecting the NOTICE TO NAVIGATION from the pull down menu.

Monday, September 27, 2010

NOAA Strategy for Future Reopenings of Areas in the Gulf

September 27th news release from NOAA: NOAA’s Fisheries Service first prohibited commercial and recreational fishing in federal waters impacted by the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill as a seafood safety measure in early May. The closed area was 88,522 square miles or 37 percent of the Gulf of Mexico federal waters at its largest and now after six reopenings is 31,915 square miles or 13 percent of the Gulf of Mexico federal waters.Since July 22, NOAA has reopened about 52,000 square miles of oil-impacted federal waters in accordance with the reopening protocol agreed to by NOAA, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and Gulf states. These areas are illustrated in gray on the map. Prior to reopening an area, the protocol requires NOAA to demonstrate the area is oil free, the area has little risk of being re-exposed to oil, and seafood tissue samples collected from within the area have passed both sensory and chemical analysis for hydrocarbons. This protocol involves sensory testing for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) components of the oil and dispersant along with chemical based testing for PAH as a confirmatory measure. After areas are reopened NOAA Fisheries Service will maintain a seafood safety monitoring program continuing the collection and testing of seafood to ensure that Gulf seafood remains safe for consumers. NOAA’s Fisheries Service’s sampling strategy in general has been to work from the lesser oiled outer boundaries of the federal closure in toward the more heavily oiled areas immediately surrounding the Deepwater Horizon/BP wellhead. Area-specific sampling plans focus on species fishermen generally target in those areas, and require more samples to be collected in heavily oiled areas, compared to lightly oiled areas. The tentative sequence of remaining sampling within the federal closed area is illustrated on the map. In summary, the closed area has been divided into eight sub-areas, which are labeled in priority from 1-8. Priority Area 1 was reopened on September 21, and included a 7,970-square mile area located along the southern boundary of the closed area, offshore of central Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the western edge of the Florida panhandle. The next federal reopening priorities include a 5,628-square mile area (Priority Area 2) and a 2,927-square mile area (Priority Area 3) located off eastern Louisiana, just west and south of the Mississippi River delta. NOAA is currently processing samples collected in these two areas, which could reopen within the next few weeks pending test results. NOAA is actively sampling Priority Area 4, and expects to begin sampling Priority Areas 5-8 within the coming weeks. Updates on the reopenings and sampling schedules, as well as supporting information and data on previous reopening are available at: http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/deepwater_horizon_oil_spill.htm

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Florida Master Naturalist Upland Habitats Class

Brevard County Extension Service and Parks and Recreation will be offering a Florida Master Naturalist class focusing on Upland Habitats starting Saturday October 2nd and continuing till November 20nd for a total of 7 days. The class will be offered at Riverwalk Nature Center in Rockledge, FL from 8am to 5pm every Saturday. Participants will learn about upland habitats and the many organisms and plants that are found in that environment. The class is a combination of lecture and field trips at Erna Nixon Park and the Enchanted Forest Sanctuary. Participants are expected to complete a project during the course and present during the final class (either individually or in a group). Pre-registration is required so please visit  http://conference.ifas.ufl.edu/fmnp/uh10-18.htm for more information about the class and to register.
The mission of the Florida Master Naturalist Program (FMNP) is to promote awareness, understanding, and respect of Florida's natural world among Florida's citizens and visitors. This mission is accomplished in part by FMNP instructors, who teach students in the program about Florida's environment using science-based information and interpretive techniques that prepare students to share their knowledge with others.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Florida Yards and Neighborhoods Program - Landscape and Ponds Class

Sally Scalera, Homeowner Horticulture agent, and myself will be offering a class on September 27th from 5:30-7pm and October 21st from 2-3:30pm on landscaping and ponds at our Cocoa office. Participants will learn about several Florida-Friendly Landscaping principles including how to reduce stormwater runoff and protect the waterfront using native aquatic plants and simple steps to a Florida-Friendly yard. I'll be showing participants the Brevard Botanical Garden pond and the native aquatic plant species that have been planted in the pond over the past year. The cost to attend the class is $12 and light snacks and refreshments will be provided. Please register at http://brevard.ifas.ufl.edu so we know how many people are attending and can provide enough snacks. I hope to see you there!

Cocoa Hook Kids on Fishing Program

The non-profit organization Anglers for Conservation will be conducting a Cocoa Hook Kids on Fishing Program at Cocoa's Lee Wenner Park on November 6th from 11am to 1pm. This program is offered for kids ages 6 to 16 along with their parents. The first 100 registered kids receive a free rod, reel and tackle box. Clinics of casting, cast netting, fishing habitat and biology, conservation, fishing safety, knot tying and catch and release techniques will all be available. Sign up for this program by calling the Indian River Lagoon program at 321-984-4950. For more information check out http://anglersforconservation.org/Programs/Blog/cocoa-hook-kids-on-fishing-program.html.
If you'd like to volunteer to help with this program please contact Capt. Rodney Smith at 321-750-3374 or email him at rodney@coastalanglermagazine.com. Volunteers are needed to assist with registration, event set-up, fundraising, teaching kids to cast, fishing techniques, habitat restoration, conservation, fishing safety, knot tying and catch and release tactics.
This free program is being offered during the same time and place as the 20th Anniversary Celebration of the Indian River Lagoon program. The outdoor part of the event will be held from 11am - 4pm at Riverfront Park. Outdoors will feature environmental organizations, food, and fun.  The indoor portion of the event will be held from 9am - 5 pm at the Cocoa Civic Center and will include a variety of short talks and displays highlighting the many efforts being undertaken by groups and agencies to protect and restore the lagoon. For more information or to register for the event, contact the Indian River Lagoon Program office at 321-984-4950.