FLOAT PLAN

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Trips to the is­lands or neigh­bor­ing states are of­ten the rea­son for long runs off­shore, so it’s pru­dent to be in full com­pli­ance with the var­i­ous laws. The ap­pli­ca­ble fish­ery agen­cies and cus­toms web­sites pro­vide cur­rent rules to help avoid prob­lems.

The en­tire crew must have valid pass­ports and clear cus­toms and im­mi­gra­tion prior to any fish­ing when cross­ing to the Ba­hamas or Cuba. A Ba­hamas cruis­ing and fish­ing per­mit is re­quired, and costs are based on ves­sel size and trip length. Get a copy of the lat­est fish­ing reg­u­la­tions and fol­low them to the let­ter, as they may be more re­stric­tive than U.S. laws. Pay spe­cial at­ten­tion to all bag, size and pos­ses­sion lim­its, es­pe­cially when tran­sit­ing. Visit ba­hamas.gov.bs for com­plete in­for­ma­tion.

If you cross into ad­ja­cent state wa­ters, non­res­i­dent fish­ing li­censes are re­quired. Things can get a lit­tle con­fus­ing when a boat re­mains in fed­eral wa­ters, due to the lack of uni­for­mity be­tween states.

“Some states al­low con­tin­u­ous tran­sit, but oth­ers don’t,” says Maj. Grant Bur­ton of Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Con­ser­va­tion Com­mis­sion. “If you don’t make a stop on the way back in through state wa­ters, you can go from Pen­sacola to fish in fed­eral wa­ters off Louisiana with­out an­other state’s li­cense. Fish­ing gear must be stowed while un­der­way, and the bur­den of proof of com­pli­ance is on the boaters.” Bur­ton sug­gests sign­ing up on myfwc.com for text or email alerts on changes to ex­ist­ing fish­eries rules, such as clo­sures. An­glers are also urged to sign up for the free Gulf Reef Fish An­gler per­mit to aid in data col­lec­tion.

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