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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Regulations needed for scallop size Scalloping season is in, and they are being dragged out of the bays like there is no tomorrow. The problem is they are too small to keep. You go out in the hot sun and get into the water several times, climbing in and out of a boat and getting sunburned in the process, and then head back to the house and try to clean these small scallops and Outdoor guess what? It has been my experience Life Scott Lindsey that scallop cleaning is a heck captainlindsey@ of a job when the scallops knology.net are large enough to keep, but just try and clean these little peanuts that are about as large as the tip of your thumb and you really have a task. You might be surprised at what happens to most of these smaller scallops. I know there are some people who will stick to the job and clean every one they catch, but they are the exception. Most of these peanutsize scallops are thrown into the trash after several attempts are made to clean them. A natural resource that could still be alive and growing every day to a respectable size is wasted. The scalloping experience includes getting the family out on the water whether you catch scallops or not. The idea is to catch scallops, of course, but whether catching a bag full or a boat load it is still a family affair and pleasure is derived no matter how many you catch. Do you realize scallops are one of the most popular marine creatures that the public can catch where the size is not regulated? Just go to the Keys and try and catch lobsters without a measuring stick and see what happens. The oysters we eat every day have to be at least 3 inches or longer in order to keep one. Try and keep a snapper under 16 inches and see how your fortune works out if you meet the wrong person at the dock. What I’m trying to say is that scallops should be regulated size-wise. Winston Chester devised a piece of cardboard with a hole cut in it in the shape of a scallop to gauge the size big enough to keep. If you catch a scallop that falls through the hole you throw it back. This measuring device would be easy enough to build out of plastic and worn around the wrist. When you were through scalloping you could measure them in the boat and throw back the ones that are too small. Remember, if it falls through you know what to do. Throw it back.

Meeting will focus on CWD prevention Special to Halifax The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will have a public meeting Aug. 8 in Gainesville to discuss possible options for minimizing the risk of chronic wasting disease coming into Florida. The meeting will be 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Paramount Plaza Hotel, 2900 S.W. 13th St., Ballroom A/B, and is open to the public. CWD is not known to affect people but is a contagious neurological disease affecting deer, elk and moose. The disease is always fatal, and there is no known cure or vaccine. So far, the disease has been discovered in 22 states, two Canadian provinces and South Korea. The meeting will begin with a presentation by commission staff on the significance of CWD and will include a discussion on possible solutions for minimizing the risk of the disease being brought into the state. For more information, contact Curtis Brown at Curtis.Brown@MyFWC.com or 617-9490. For more information on CWD, go to www.CWD-info.org. Any person requiring special accommodations to participate in this workshop/ meeting is asked to advise the agency at least five days before the workshop/meeting by callingthe ADA coordinator at 488-6411. If you are hearing- or speech-impaired, please contact the agency using the Florida Relay Service, 800-955-8771 (TDD) or 800-955-8770 (voice).

HALIFAX FILE PHOTO

The Sea Screamer boat makes its way past the St. Andrews Marina and Harbour Village in Panama City. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration charged operators of the tour boat with two counts of illegal dolphin feeding. NOAA also charged AAA Jet Ski Rentals and Tours and Blue Dolphin Tours.

3 Panama City Beach companies fined for illegal dolphin feeding By VALERIE GARMAN

747-5076 | @valeriegarman vgarman@pcnh.com PANAMA CITY BEACH — Three Bay County tour boat companies are facing fines for unlawfully feeding wild dolphins in violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, but at least one of the companies says the charges are false. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration charged operators of the tour boat “Sea Screamer” with two counts of illegal dolphin feeding in July 2011 and August 2012, resulting in a $10,000 fine. “We are disputing these claims,” said Capt. Andy Redmond, the owner of the Sea Screamer. “We do not feed dolphins aboard the Sea Screamer.” Redmond said each tour begins with a verbal admonition to passengers that it is illegal to feed or harass dolphins and that the sea creatures are fully capable of finding all the food they need. He added that charges stem from one incident in 2011 and another in 2012 and that though undercover agents from NOAA had been aboard his boat several times in the past few years, they have not seen humans feeding dolphins from the vessel. “All we do is observe dolphins,” he said. “We do not feed dolphins.” Also charged were AAA Jet Ski Rentals and Tours and Blue Dolphin Tours, with each company facing

“Panama City is the one scientifically documented place where we know dolphins have been fed so people can get in the water and interact with them. The uniqueness about Panama City is the amount of vessels in a small area; you’ll have upwards of 25 boats encircling two dolphins and trying to interact with those dolphins.” Stacy Horstman NOAA Fisheries bottlenose dolphin conservation coordinator a $5,000 fine for illegal feedings in August of last year. Contacted by phone Sunday, a man with AAA Jet Ski Rentals said the business would not comment on its fine. The owner of Blue Dolphin Tours was unavailable for comment Sunday. “We work very closely with the (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission), and these cases were a result of a planned working group,” said Jeff Dadonski, the acting deputy special agent in charge at NOAA’s office of law enforcement. “All of the cases were witnessed by law enforcement or other components.” Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, it is illegal to feed, touch or pursue wild dolphins, and Bay County is a known hotspot for illegal dolphin interaction. The incidents happened

a year or two ago, but officials said it is not unusual to take that long to conclude an investigation and file federal charges. NOAA Fisheries bottlenose dolphin conservation coordinator Stacy Horstman said the area’s large commercial and recreational boating fleet coupled with a growing tourism industry presents a unique challenge when it comes to preventing dolphin interaction. “Panama City is the one scientifically documented place where we know dolphins have been fed so people can get in the water and interact with them,” Horstman said. “The uniqueness about Panama City is the amount of vessels in a small area; you’ll have upwards of 25 boats encircling two dolphins and trying to interact with those dolphins.”

In an attempt to counteract the negative effects of dolphin interaction, NOAA has led outreach programs in Bay County for more than two decades. Horstman said outreach focuses primarily on educating the public through brochures, posted signs, workshops, billboards and on-air public service announcements. This season, the agency also has begun utilizing banner plane flyovers as a means to communicate the message. Despite two decades of effort, Horstman said the huge influx of commercial businesses and tourism in a small geographic area has smothered any progress. “There was a time when we were seeing improvements, but unfortunately in the last few years, it’s just as bad as it’s ever been,” Horstman said. “We really need everybody’s help to keep the people and the dolphins safe.” Local tour businesses Osprey Charters and St. Andrew Bay Ferry say they have made an effort to adhere to the initiatives set forth in NOAA’s Dolphin SMART partnership, even though the program has not yet been implemented in the area. “You can safely and responsibly view dolphin from a vessel,” Horstman said. “We know it can happen, but there are a lot of commercial and recreational boaters in the area, and it’s going to take everybody to really help us solve this problem.”

Expo a boon to businesses, child advocacy center By SCOTT CARROLL

522-5180 | @scottyknoxville scarroll@pcnh.com PANAMA CITY BEACH — Hundreds of people attended the Bay Point Boating and Outdoor Expo at Bay Point Marina on Saturday, dodging midday rain showers to see live music, watercrafts ranging from jet skis to yachts, and reality television stars. All proceeds from the expo will go toward the Gulf Coast Children’s Advocacy Center, which supports victims of child abuse. Expo officials said they’ll know how much was collected by the end of the month. “We find it fun, enjoyable and exciting to help out the less fortunate, that’s for sure,” said Bay Point Marina director Daniel Fussell. About 50 watercrafts from Great Southern Yachts and Legendary Marine, among others, were on display at the expo, drawing many members of the local boating

community. “Anybody that does anything with boats is out here,” Fussell said. The expo included an appearance by John Godwin and Justin Martin, cast members of the reality TV show “Duck Dynasty.” Bay Point sold $50 tickets for a VIP meet-and-greet with the pair. The expo also attracted dozens of small business owners, who said the expo provided exposure and networking opportunities. Among them was Tracey Sharp, owner of Girls Night Out salsa. Sharp first offered the salsa to friends as a holiday gift. After selling 1,900 jars of her homemade sauce at the Junior League of Panama City’s Holly Fair in 2009, she decided to expand. Sharp’s four salsa flavors and two seasoning packs are now sold at several local grocery stores. “I’m just a little local girl trying to make a dollar,” she

said Saturday at the expo. “A lot of people don’t get the chance to taste it when they see it in the store, so (the expo) gives them the chance to taste every single flavor and see which level of heat they like. Doing these shows does a lot for me. It gives everyone the chance to try it, and I get to listen to people’s responses, so it keeps me going.” While people sampled Sharp’s salsa on Saturday, James Diesel of James Diesel Repair and Performance discussed all-terrain tires and gas mileage with expo attendees nearby. The expo, he said, was a chance to pitch his auto service and performance center, which he started in 2010 after stints at several local auto dealerships. But Diesel, who noted he is an advocate of “keeping our money local,” also had the community on his mind. “We get to contribute to the charity by being in the

expo,” he said. “That was the biggest thing for us, that we get to give back to the community.” Diesel’s business began in a barn, he said, but has grown into an operation housed in an 8,000-squarefoot facility. Networking at expos and other local events, he said, can be crucial for start-ups. “The community has helped me a lot, and (the expo) is good for these local businesses to get some exposure,” Diesel said. Kristy Bondarchuk shared his sentiment, adding she has attended two Panama City Friday Fests since starting her boutique, Khloe’s Closet, three months ago. The shop sells dresses, jewelry and fashion accessories. “I’m just starting out, and I’m just trying to get things going,” she said. “(The expo) just kind of promotes my product and lets people become more aware of who I am and what I have.”

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