Section 370.16, Florida Statutes 2001
1370.16 Noncultured shellfish harvesting.--
(1) PROTECTION OF SHELLFISH AQUACULTURE PRODUCTS.--
(a) The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission shall assist in protecting shellfish aquaculture products produced on leased or granted reefs in the hands of lessees or grantees from the state. Harvesting shellfish is prohibited within a distance of 25 feet outside lawfully marked lease boundaries or within setback and access corridors within specifically designated high-density aquaculture lease areas and aquaculture use zones.
(b) The department, in cooperation with the commission, shall provide the Legislature with recommendations as needed for the development and the proper protection of the rights of the state and private holders therein with respect to the oyster and clam business.
(2) SHELLFISH HARVESTING SEASONS; SPECIAL PROVISIONS RELATING TO APALACHICOLA BAY.--
(a) The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission shall by rule set the noncultured shellfish harvesting seasons in Apalachicola Bay.
(b) If the commission changes the harvesting seasons by rule as set forth in this subsection, for 3 years after the new rule takes effect, the commission, in cooperation with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, shall monitor the impacts of the new harvesting schedule on the bay and on local shellfish harvesters to determine whether the new harvesting schedule should be discontinued, retained, or modified. In monitoring the new schedule and in preparing its report, the following information shall be considered:
1. Whether the bay benefits ecologically from the new harvesting schedule.
2. Whether the new harvesting schedule enhances the enforcement of shellfish harvesting laws in the bay.
3. Whether the new harvesting schedule enhances natural shellfish production, oyster relay and planting programs, and shell planting programs in the bay.
4. Whether the new harvesting schedule has more than a short-term adverse economic impact, if any, on local shellfish harvesters.
(3) REMOVING OYSTERS, CLAMS, OR MUSSELS FROM NATURAL REEFS; LICENSES, ETC., PENALTY.--
(a) It is unlawful to use a dredge or any means or implement other than hand tongs in removing oysters from the natural or artificial state reefs. This restriction shall apply to all areas of Apalachicola Bay for all shellfish harvesting, excluding private grounds leased or granted by the state prior to July 1, 1989, if the lease or grant specifically authorizes the use of implements other than hand tongs for harvesting. Except in Apalachicola Bay, upon the payment of $25 annually, for each vessel or boat using a dredge or machinery in the gathering of clams or mussels, a special activity license may be issued by the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission pursuant to s. 370.06 for such use to such person.
(b) The use of any mechanical harvesting device other than ordinary hand tongs for taking shellfish for any purpose from public shellfish beds in Apalachicola Bay shall be unlawful.
(c) The possession of any mechanical harvesting device on the waters of Apalachicola Bay from 5 p.m. until sunrise shall be unlawful.
(d) Each vessel used for the transport or deployment of a dredge or scrape shall prominently display the lease or grant number or numbers, in numerals which are at least 12 inches high and 6 inches wide, in such a manner that the lease or grant number or numbers are readily identifiable from both the air and the water.
(e) Oysters may be harvested from natural or public grounds by common hand tongs or by hand, by scuba diving, free diving, leaning from vessels, or wading. In the Apalachicola Bay, this provision shall apply to all shellfish.
The commission shall apply other statutes, rules, or conditions necessary to protect the environment and natural resources from improper transport, deployment, and operation of a dredge or scrape. Any violation of this subsection or of any other statutes, rules, or conditions referenced in the special activity license shall be considered a violation of the license and shall result in revocation of the license and forfeiture of the bond submitted to the commission as a prerequisite to the issuance of this license.
(4) FALSE RETURNS AS TO OYSTERS OR CLAMS HANDLED.--Each packer, canner, corporation, firm, commission person, or dealer in fish shall, on the first day of each month, make a return under oath to the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, as to the number of oysters, clams, and shellfish purchased, caught, or handled during the preceding month. Whoever is found guilty of making any false affidavit to any such report is guilty of perjury and punished as provided by law, and any person who fails to make such report shall be punished by a fine not exceeding $500 or by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding 6 months.
(5) WATER PATROL FOR COLLECTION OF TAX.--
(a) The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission may establish and maintain necessary patrols of the salt waters of Florida, with authority to use such force as may be necessary to capture any vessel or person violating the provisions of the laws relating to oysters and clams, and may establish ports of entry at convenient locations where the severance or privilege tax levied on oysters and clams may be collected or paid and may make such rules and regulations as it may deem necessary for the enforcement of such tax.
(b) Each person in any way dealing in shellfish harvesting from public reefs or beds shall keep a record, on blanks or forms prescribed by the commission, of all oysters, clams, and shellfish taken, purchased, used, or handled by him or her, with the name of the person from whom purchased, if purchased, together with the quantity and the date taken or purchased, and shall exhibit this account at all times when requested so to do by the commission or any conservation agent; and he or she shall, on the first day of each month, make a return under oath to the commission as to the number of oysters, clams, and shellfish purchased, caught, or handled during the preceding month. The commission may require detailed returns whenever it deems them necessary.
(6) SEIZURE OF VESSELS AND CARGOES VIOLATING OYSTER AND CLAM LAWS, ETC.--Vessels, with their cargoes, violating the provisions of the laws relating to oysters and clams may be seized by anyone duly and lawfully authorized to make arrests under this section or by any sheriff or the sheriff's deputies, and taken into custody, and when not arrested by the sheriff or the sheriff's deputies, delivered to the sheriff of the county in which the seizure is made, and shall be liable to forfeiture, on appropriate proceedings being instituted by the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, before the courts of that county. In such case the cargo shall at once be disposed of by the sheriff, for account of whom it may concern. Should the master or any of the crew of said vessel be found guilty of using dredges or other instruments in fishing oysters on natural reefs contrary to law, or fishing on the natural oyster or clam reefs out of season, or unlawfully taking oysters or clams belonging to a lessee, such vessel shall be declared forfeited by the court, and ordered sold and the proceeds of the sale shall be deposited with the Treasurer to the credit of the General Revenue Fund; any person guilty of such violations shall not be permitted to have any license provided for in this chapter within a period of 1 year from the date of conviction. Pending proceedings such vessel may be released upon the owner furnishing bond, with good and solvent security in double the value of the vessel, conditioned upon its being returned in good condition to the sheriff to abide the judgment of the court.
(7) DREDGING OF DEAD SHELLS PROHIBITED.--The dredging of dead shell deposits is prohibited in the state.
(8) REQUIREMENTS FOR OYSTER VESSELS.--All vessels used for the harvesting, gathering, or transporting of noncultured oysters for commercial use shall be constructed and maintained to prevent contamination or deterioration of oysters. To this end, all such vessels shall be provided with false bottoms and bulkheads fore and aft to prevent oysters from coming in contact with any bilge water. No dogs or other animals shall be allowed at any time on vessels used to harvest or transport oysters. A violation of any provision of this subsection shall result in at least the revocation of the violator's license.
History.--s. 2, ch. 28145, 1953; s. 1, ch. 57-256; s. 1, ch. 57-163; s. 1, ch. 59-346; s. 1, ch. 59-490; s. 1, ch. 61-99; s. 2, ch. 61-58; s. 3, ch. 61-22; s. 2, ch. 61-119; s. 1, ch. 61-100; s. 19, ch. 63-512; ss. 1, 2, ch. 63-120; s. 1, ch. 63-396; s. 3, ch. 65-140; s. 1, ch. 65-436; s. 1, ch. 67-234; ss. 19, 25, 35, ch. 69-106; s. 298, ch. 71-136; s. 1, ch. 71-244; s. 1, ch. 71-245; s. 1, ch. 71-246; s. 129, ch. 71-377; s. 1, ch. 72-204; s. 1, ch. 72-236; s. 102, ch. 73-333; s. 1, ch. 75-120; s. 1, ch. 76-106; s. 1, ch. 77-92; s. 111, ch. 77-104; s. 52, ch. 77-147; s. 1, ch. 77-197; s. 1, ch. 77-206; s. 23, ch. 78-95; s. 1, ch. 78-96; s. 33, ch. 79-65; s. 1, ch. 79-111; ss. 1, 2, ch. 80-52; s. 1, ch. 82-46; s. 1, ch. 82-408; s. 6, ch. 83-134; s. 27, ch. 83-216; s. 2, ch. 83-265; s. 2, ch. 84-121; s. 15, ch. 84-254; ss. 14, 17, ch. 85-234; s. 5, ch. 86-219; ss. 16, 19, ch. 86-240; ss. 7, 12, ch. 89-98; s. 3, ch. 89-116; ss. 19, 26, 42, ch. 89-175; s. 16, ch. 91-78; ss. 4, 5, ch. 91-187; ss. 5, 6, ch. 91-254; s. 5, ch. 91-286; s. 234, ch. 94-356; s. 92, ch. 95-143; s. 997, ch. 95-148; s. 37, ch. 96-321; s. 13, ch. 98-333; s. 64, ch. 99-8; s. 60, ch. 99-245; s. 12, ch. 2000-364.
1Note.--Section 6, ch. 83-134, as amended by s. 2, ch. 84-121; by s. 5, ch. 86-219; and by s. 19, ch. 86-240, repealed then-existing subsections (14)-(16) and (38), effective July 1, 1984, and further provided that if the Governor and Cabinet had not adopted appropriate rules by July 1, 1984, they would remain in force until such rules were effective. Section 9, ch. 83-134, provided that, prior to the adoption of rules amending, readopting, or repealing those provisions set forth in s. 6, the Marine Fisheries Commission would hold a public hearing thereon, and no such amendment, readoption, or repeal would be acted upon until it had been determined, based upon appropriate findings of fact, that such action would not adversely affect the resource. The Marine Fisheries Commission was transferred to the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission by s. 3, ch. 99-245.