Notice: Ortona Lock Closings for Maintenance



The boating Public should be aware that the U.S. Army Core of Engineers has scheduled maintenance of the Ortona Lock, on the Okeechobee Waterway in Moore Haven. Maintenance, which will affect boating access, is projected to take place over approximately the next seven months.

Southwest Florida Marine Industries Association president, Hans Wilson, contacted the Army Corp to inquire about the schedule and the timing of the lock maintenance. Below is the response from the Army Core’s John Campbell. Our thanks to the Army Corp for a quick response.

“The timing of the project has more to do with the funding we received from Congress and some limitations regarding the time we have for those funds to be spent. Typically, funds that Congress appropriates for operations and maintenance activities have a one-year shelf life before they must be committed through an obligation. These particular funds were appropriated for use in fiscal year 2015, which ended SEP 30.

The Corps committed and obligated those funds through a contract for work that we signed just before the end of the federal fiscal year. The contract allows seven months to complete the work, assuming no issues.

We have had success with a similar locking schedule at Port Canaveral while performing similar repairs. The traffic count at Canaveral is greater than what we see at Ortona. Locking activities will occur three times daily in the morning, at mid-day, and in the evening. While not a perfect solution for everyone, this schedule allows the Corps to complete necessary work on the infrastructure while making it possible for boaters to continue using the facility.

I hope this information is helpful. Please contact me if I can be of further assistance. Best wishes for a wonderful New Year!”

John H Campbell
Public Affairs Specialist
Jacksonville District, US Army Corps of Engineers

Attention Gulf Red Snapper Anglers

Photo provided by MyFWC
Photo provided by MyFWC

Big changes to Gulf recreational red snapper management could be coming – here’s your chance to weigh in and make sure your voice is heard. The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) is holding public hearings on a proposal known as regional management that could give states a larger role in red snapper management in federal waters. See meeting dates and times below.

Currently, the Council is responsible for management of the recreational red snapper fishery in all Gulf of Mexico federal waters. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) manages state waters off Florida. If the Council approves regional management, the federal recreational red snapper quota would be divided state-by-state or at a regional level, and states would set recreational seasons and bag limits in both state and federal waters off their coast.

Regional management could allow for recreational red snapper regulations in federal waters to be tailored to more local needs. However, there are possible trade-offs, such as potentially fewer fishing days for Florida red snapper anglers.

Two meetings will be held in Florida on regional management during October. Council and FWC staff will be on hand at these meetings to discuss proposal details and what it might mean for Florida anglers. If you cannot attend an in-person meeting, there will also be a webinar.

The FWC Commission will discuss regional management and review input from the public hearings at its Nov. 18-19 meeting in Panama City. This input will help the FWC Commission decide how the FWC representative on the Council should vote on the Council’s regional management proposal.

The Council is expected to make a final decision on regional management at its Jan. 25-29 meeting in Orange Beach, AL.

Meeting dates and locations:
All in-person meetings begin at 6 p.m. local time and end no later than 9 p.m. local time. The webinar begins at 6 p.m. Eastern Time.

Thurs, October 22, 2015
Embassy Suites
570 Scenic Gulf Drive
Destin, FL 332550

Tues, October 27, 2015
Hilton St. Petersburg
Carillon Park
950 Lake Carillon Dr.
St. Petersburg, FL 33716

Wed, October 28, 2015

Click here to register!

Public Hearing Guides with details about the Council’s regional management proposal will be posted on the Council website at

Rep. Jolly introduces bill that could lead to a longer Red Snapper fishing season


Seminole, FL – Congressman David Jolly (FL-13) has introduced legislation that will lead to a more accurate count of Red Snapper and other reef fish in the Gulf of Mexico. The bill, called the Gulf Red Snapper Data Improvement Act, will allow for third-party data collection of fish populations to be used for federal stock assessments, which could ultimately lead to longer Red Snapper fishing seasons for the recreational sectors.

“Many in the fishing community, from private anglers, to charter, to commercial, have questioned the government’s stock assessments. My bill will give each of them a seat at the table. Third-party data collection will expand the information available to the government, particularly Red Snapper, and improve the data used to determine fishing seasons,” Jolly said.

The Gulf Red Snapper Data Improvement Act designates $10 million annually for third-party data collection of Gulf Red Snapper and other Gulf reef species. The data collection program will be managed by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Southeast Regional Office located in St. Petersburg, Florida.

“This will improve our knowledge of fisheries stocks and if the research shows a larger fish population than the government suggests, this will open the door for a longer fishing season for species like Red Snapper. And a longer Snapper season is an economic and quality of life win throughout our community, positively impacting everyone from local scientists committed to the protection of fish populations, to recreational anglers, to charter operators, to businesses that depend on fishing tourism like hotel and restaurant operators,” Jolly noted.

A member of the powerful House Committee on Appropriations, Jolly was able to secure similar language in the Fiscal Year 2016 House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Bill earlier this year.

For additional information regarding this legislation please contact Preston Rudie, Communications Dir. for Representative Jolly at (727) 418-7722. You may also click this link to visit Representative Jolly’s website.

Who is is hosted by the Southwest Florida Marine Industries Association. We are a member-owned trade association made up of businesses involved in the recreational boating industry. SWFMIA was formed in the early 1970’s when a small group of Ft. Myers boat dealers joined together to stage the first Fort Myers Boat Show.


At the time, the only plan was to generate a few boat sales from a show, but before long the show began to grow, by-laws were written, a board of directors formed and SWFMIA was incorporated. Actually, Boat Shows and Trade Associations are an essential element in the marine industry. Most major boat shows in the U.S. are owned by a trade association and it is the revenue from these shows that fund the lion’s share of operating budgets.

Today, SWFMIA represents the industry from Lee County through Tampa Bay, with over 200 members. We are governed by a Board of Directors consisting of a very diverse group of industry business leaders. Our objectives are to protect, promote and grow recreational boating. We play an active role monitoring legislative and political issues that affect boating, both for our member businesses and for the boating public. We provide a variety of services to our members and keep them informed on industry news and issues.
We produce three annual boat shows. The Fort Myers Boat Show, downtown on the river in November. The Charlotte County Boat Show, in January at the Charlotte County Fairgrounds. The Bonita Springs Boat Show in February at the Naples/Fort Myers Greyhound Track.


About four years ago, our Board decided to create a web site that would be a source of boating information for the public. As you look through the site, you will find all kinds of information useful to enjoying your time on the water. You will also find a listing of our members, the products and services they offer and links to their web sites. This is a great source for just about any type of boat, product or service you might need in our region.

We are working to make the site a better resource to keep boaters informed about legislative, political, and rule making issues related to boating. We have local, state and national lobbyists who keep us up to speed on potential issues. For example, in the last several months, we have been involved in or are monitoring the Manatee Protection Plan being adopted in Pinellas County, the St. Petersburg Downtown Waterfront Redevelopment, the dredging of Big Pass in Sarasota, boat ramp issues in Cape Coral, and development of the Historic District in downtown Fort Myers. We’re keeping an eye on pending statewide legislation standardizing rules on where boaters can anchor. On a national level, pending legislation to increase ethanol levels to 15% will adversely affect most marine engines.

You will also see blogs on our site with all kinds of boating information. Boaters are welcome to provide contributions about your time on the water. Send us a story and a few photos about a recent day on the water or a special fishing trip. How about a great restaurant or watering hole you have been to by boat. We live in the greatest boating area in the U.S. and it would be great if you would share your boating lifestyle with others.

We welcome your comments, suggestions, and input on our site. How can we make it more informative and useful? Please e-mail us at We will respond.

NEWS: Only a few days left to make your comment on the EPA’s ethanol proposal.


There’s only a few days left before the EPA’s ethanol comment period closes. This is our last chance to tell the EPA that we want less ethanol in our fuel supply, the freedom to choose E0 and the assurances to better protect marine engines against E15.


Thousands of comments from the boating community have poured in demanding the EPA reverse course on its proposed increase to the ethanol mandate, but every comment counts.

Will you join them and help make a difference?


The deadline is Monday night at 11:59 p.m. ET.


NEWS: EPA proposes raising ethanol levels in our fuel.


Last week, the EPA held the only public forum on its proposal to raise the ethanol levels in our fuel supply. It was held in the heart of corn country, and no surprise it was decidedly a one-sided debate.

Governor Jay Nixon (MO) energizes hundreds of Pro-Ethanol Supporters at EPA Hearing (Credit: AgWired).

Of the more than 250 testifying participants, all but a dozen were for increasing the amount of ethanol — even beyond the EPA’s proposal!

Our voices will be drowned out if we don’t take action. We need you to join our effort and contact the EPA. Tell them to protect boating and decrease the amount of ethanol in our fuel supply.

2,000 people in the boating industry have already commented through our link. Will you join them and make this a fair debate?

Comment Right Here, Right Now.

New Waverider Buoy Supports Harbor Pilots

A new wave monitoring buoy (WMO ID 42098) was deployed on June 5, 2015, near the entrance to the Tampa Bay shipping channel, 10 miles west of Egmont Key. The addition of this buoy to the existing NOAA Physical Oceanographic Real Time System (PORTS) network builds upon the existing measurements of winds, currents and tides around the bay. Instruments on the Waverider buoy provide harbor pilots and other boating interests with real-time data on wave height, period and direction, critical information to enhance safety as the pilots move between the station and inbound or outbound ships. Recreational boaters will benefit as well from knowing wave conditions before venturing offshore. Data from this buoy along with a video and photos of the deployment are available at


Funded by the Greater Tampa Bay Marine Advisory Council – PORTS, Inc., the local operator for Tampa Bay PORTS, and operated in collaboration with the University of South Florida College of Marine Science and the US Army Corps of Engineers-funded Coastal Data Information Program at Scripps Institution of Oceanography (CDIP), the information also supports broader efforts to monitor and predict waves and shoreline change.


“While the primary beneficiaries of wave data from this buoy are the Tampa Bay Pilots and related shipping interests, the wave information is critical to studies of beach erosion and channel dredging” said Mark Luther, the head of local operations for Tampa Bay PORTS.