(1) NONRESIDENT LICENSE; SPONGE FISHING.—Any nonresident of the state, who desires to engage in the business or occupation of sponge fishing, either for that person or any other person, shall, before entering into said business or occupation, procure a nonresident saltwater products license issued in the name of an individual or to a valid boat registration pursuant to s. 379.361.
(2) USE AND SIZE OF HOOKS.—Any person engaged in gathering sponges by use of a hook shall use a hook 5 inches wide for the purpose of removing sponges from the bottom, and no hook of other dimensions may be used.
(3) TAKING, POSSESSING COMMERCIAL; SIZE.—
(a) No person may take, by any means or method, from the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the straits of this state or the other waters within the territorial limits of this state, any commercial sponges, measuring, when wet, less than 5 inches in their maximum diameter.
(b) To make effective the foregoing subsection it is further provided that no person may land, cure, deliver, offer for sale, sell, or have in his or her possession, within the territorial limits of this state, or upon any boat, vessel, or vehicle, other than those operated interstate by common carriers, within the territorial limits of this state, any commercial sponges measuring, when wet, less than 5 inches in their maximum diameter.
(c) The presence of commercial sponges within the territorial limits of this state, or upon any boat, vessel, or vehicle, other than those operated interstate by common carriers, within the territorial limits of this state, measuring, when wet, less than 5 inches in their maximum diameter, shall be evidence that the person having such sponges in his or her possession has violated this section.
(4) POWERS OF THE COMMISSION.—The commission is authorized and empowered to make, promulgate, and put into effect all rules and regulations which the commission may consider and decide to be necessary to accomplish the purpose of this chapter for the taking and cultivation of sponges, including the power and authority to determine and fix, in its discretion, the seasons and period of time within which public state grounds may be closed to the taking, possessing, buying, selling, or transporting of sponges from the sponge cultivation districts herein provided for and to regulate and prescribe the means and methods to be employed in the harvesting thereof; however, notice of all rules, regulations, and orders, and all revisions and amendments thereto, prescribing closed seasons or prescribing the means and methods of harvesting sponges adopted by the commission shall be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the conservation district affected within 10 days from the adoption thereof, in addition to any notice required by chapter 120.
(5) COOPERATION WITH UNITED STATES FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE.—The commission shall cooperate with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, under existing federal laws, rules and regulations, and is authorized to accept donations, grants and matching funds from said federal government under such conditions as are reasonable and proper, for the purposes of carrying out this chapter, and the commission is further authorized to accept any and all donations including funds and loan of vessels.
(6) PENALTY.—Any person violating any of the foregoing provisions shall, for the second offense, be guilty of a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084, and by the confiscation of all boats, tackle and equipment used in the commission of such violation.
History.—s. 2, ch. 28145, 1953; ss. 10, 25, 35, ch. 69-106; s. 299, ch. 71-136; s. 23, ch. 78-95; s. 6, ch. 83-134; s. 2, ch. 84-121; ss. 15, 17, ch. 85-234; s. 5, ch. 86-219; ss. 17, 19, ch. 86-240; ss. 8, 12, ch. 89-98; s. 4, ch. 89-116; s. 564, ch. 95-148; s. 111, ch. 99-245; s. 80, ch. 2008-247.
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 the then-existing section effective July 1, 1984, and further provided that if the Governor and Cabinet had not adopted appropriate rules by July 1, 1984, this section 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.