Bonefish Gets Game fish Designation
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission voted Thursday to elevate public awareness of the importance of Florida bonefish by declaring it a saltwater game fish. It is illegal to commercially harvest and sell bonefish in Florida, and sport anglers are allowed to keep only one bonefish 18 inches in fork length per day. To further protect bonefish populations, the commission its directed staff to develop a draft rule for consideration in February that would add all species of bonefish found in Florida waters to FWC rules, extend FWC bonefish regulations into federal waters, and require that bonefish be landed in whole condition.
Habitat project nears completion
Tampa Bay Watch and Audubon of Florida are expected to finish 250 feet of new oyster shell reef habitat along the shoreline of Whiskey Stump Key today with the help of volunteers from several dedicated community volunteer organizations. The site is a small, sandy mangrove island located in southeastern Hillsborough Bay, 3 miles south of the mouth of the Alafia River in Riverview. Restored oyster bars — essentially a man-made reef of natural fossilized oyster shells — provide a solid surface for young pioneering oysters to attach to and grow their own shells. Living oysters that settle on the fossilized shells provide multiple benefits to Tampa Bay, including cleansing up to 10 gallons of water per hour by each oyster through their filter feeding, stabilizing the bottom sediments and reducing wave energy action against the island's shorelines.
Things to Do
• The Bruce Watters Jewelers Illuminated Boat Parade begins at 5:45 p.m. Saturday in downtown St. Petersburg. Boats will gather at Bayboro Harbor and travel around the municipal pier and back. There will be activities at Spa Beach from 3-10 p.m., including live music and the St. Pete Chili Challenge.
• Stand-up paddleboarding demonstrations will precede a race at 11 a.m. Sunday at 1001 Gulf Blvd, just north of the Clearwater Sailing Center. The free demos start at 9 a.m. and run until 1 p.m. Registration is $25 for racers and free for those wanting to try a stand-up paddleboard. For information, call (727) 481-3637.
• The Tierra Verde Lighted Boat Parade, postponed Wednesday because of fog, has been rescheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday.
Rodney Page, Times staff writer