Fishing and Lobstering

Fantastic bonefish habitat
Enjoying the day in fantastic bonefish habitat

Image by Jiangang Luo

For thousands of years, people have fished the waters of Biscayne Bay. For ancient peoples like the Tequesta, it was a way of life. Today, we enjoy fishing as a way to relax and appreciate the outdoors. We want you, and those who come after you, to have a pleasant time fishing in the park. Before casting a line or diving down into the water, please take some time to learn the rules and regulations of fishing in the park.

Biscayne National Park allows fishing as a means of providing for public enjoyment, and customary and traditional use. Fishing regulations within Biscayne National Park are set by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and the park works with FWC to ensure that fishing activity is regulated in a manner that avoids unacceptable impacts to park resources.

 

Licenses

With limited exceptions, a valid Florida fishing license is required to fish in the park. Children under 16 years of age do not require a license. Visitors fishing within Biscayne National Park must follow the fishing license requirements in accordance with the laws and regulations of the FWC. Those who do not qualify for a fishing license exemption as listed here can learn more about purchasing a license by visiting the FWC website. Please note that if you are engaging in shore-based shark fishing, reef-fishing from a private vessel, or specifically targeting snook, spiny lobster, or tarpon, additional permits/tags are required.

 
Map of restricted areas in Biscayne National Park
Map of restricted areas in Biscayne National Park

Fishing Regulations

Unless otherwise provided for, fishing regulations apply to all finfish found in both fresh and saltwater, and mollusks and crustaceans found in saltwater (shellfish).

These fishing regulations apply, regardless of land ownership, on all lands and waters within the park that are under the legislative jurisdiction of the United States.

Fishing shall be in accordance with the laws and regulations of the State of Florida (36CFR2.3(a)) except as provided below. Where there is a conflict between a state regulation and a federal (NPS) regulation, the state regulation is superseded by the federal regulation.

For state fishing regulations specific to Biscayne National Park, please visit the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website. Note that size regulations and bag limits for many species are more stringent within the park boundaries than for areas outside the park.

For more information on how NPS fishing regulations work, go to the regulations page on the NPS Fish and Fishing website.

 

The following are prohibited across all National Park units:

  • Fishing by the use of drugs, poisons, explosives, or electricity.

  • Digging for bait, except in privately owned lands.

  • Failing to return carefully and immediately to the water from which it was taken a fish that does not meet size or species restrictions or that the person chooses not to keep. Fish so released shall not be included in the catch or possession limit: Provided, that at the time of catching the person did not possess the legal limit of fish.

  • Fishing from motor road bridges, from or within 200 feet of a public raft or float designated for water sports, or within the limits of locations designated as swimming beaches, surfing areas, or public boat docks, except in designated areas.

  • Introducing wildlife, fish or plants, including their reproductive bodies, into a park area ecosystem. This includes the discarding and/or dumping of bait and bait buckets.

  • The use or possession of fish, wildlife or plants for ceremonial or religious purposes, except where specifically authorized by Federal statutory law, or treaty rights.

Except as otherwise designated, fishing with a net, spear, or weapon in the salt waters of park areas shall be in accordance with State law.


The following regulations apply throughout all of Biscayne National Park:

  • No person shall harvest any tropical ornamental marine life species or any tropical ornamental marine plant within Biscayne National Park, unless such person possesses a valid collecting permit issued by the superintendent of the park.

  • Prohibited species also include: Goliath Grouper, Nassau Grouper, Queen Conch, Sawfish, sea turtles, stony and fire corals, sea fans, Longspine Urchin, Bahama Starfish, and numerous species of sharks. For the full list, see see Florida saltwater fishing regulations.


The following regulations apply to specific locations within Biscayne National Park:

  • For the protection of artifacts, anchoring any vessel within the Legare Anchorage (the area bounded by latitude 25°30 N and 25°29 N and longitude 80°08 W and 80°07 W) is prohibited at any time except in the case of an emergency. However, hook and line "drift" fishing is allowed.

  • Fishing in the following waters is prohibited:

  1. Within the area marked by buoys at the mouth of Boca Chita Key Harbor as well as within the harbor

  1. Within the area marked by buoys at the mouth of Elliott Key Harbor as well as within the harbor. The only exception is that fishing from the maintenance dock just south of the main harbor is permitted.

  1. The National Park Service boat basin at Park Headquarters at Convoy Point

  1. The entrance/main road at Convoy Point

  1. The northern side of Adams Key dock

  1. On the northern end of the Convoy Point picnic area adjacent to the boardwalk, just east of the canoe ramp/launch area

  • Cast netting (also called a throw net) is prohibited at Convoy Point along the Convoy Point Jetty and foot bridge.

  • The taking of lobster is prohibited in the Biscayne Bay/Card Sound Lobster Sanctuary including all natural, artificial and tidal creeks between the islands and along the mainland. Legally taken lobsters may be transported through the sanctuary. A map of the sanctuary can be accessed here.

  • The taking of lobster is prohibited in the five Coral Reef Protection Areas, as shown on the map here (click on “Coral Reef Protection Areas”). The corners of these five rectangular areas will be marked with yellow buoys.

  • No traps may be deployed in the Trap-Free zone adjacent to the Visitor Center, as shown on the map here (Click on “BNP Headquarters trap-free zone”).

  • Trawls may not be operated in either of the No-Trawl zones, as shown on the map here (Click on “No Trawl Zones”).

  • The harvest of blue land crabs is prohibited at Convoy Point.

 

Fish Consumption Advisories in National Park Waters

Fish is part of a healthy balanced diet, but eating wild fish and shellfish caught in park waters is not risk free. Parks are “islands”, but the much larger “ocean” that surrounds them affects the natural resources inside a park. Other aquatic toxins are the result of natural biological processes. Also, chemical contaminants that originate outside of park boundaries can come into parks.

The Environmental Protection Agency, states, territories, and tribes provide advice on fish and shellfish caught in the waters in their jurisdiction to help people make informed decisions about eating fish. Advisories are recommendations to limit your consumption of, or avoid eating entirely, certain species of fish or shellfish from specific bodies of water due to chemical or biological contamination.

Mercury is an example of a toxin originating outside a park that can find its way into a park. Mercury exists naturally in some rocks, including coal. When power plants burn coal, mercury can travel in the air long distances before falling to the ground, usually in low concentrations. Once on the ground, microorganisms can change this elemental mercury to methyl mercury. This type of mercury can build up in animal tissues, and it can increase in concentration to harmful levels. This high concentration can occur in large predatory fish - those often pursued and eaten by anglers. Studies have shown that fish in some National Park System waters have mercury levels that may be of concern to people who regularly eat a lot of fish.



Biscayne National Park Fish Consumption Advisories

Please consult the Florida Department Of Health website for fish consumption advisories specific to Biscayne National Park. Select “marine water” as the water type and “Florida Bay, Biscayne Bay, and Florida Keys” as the location to see the current advisories as they apply to consuming fish caught from Biscayne National.

The National Park Service maintains information about Fish Consumption Advisories and Mercury and Toxins in Nature. To learn more about this topic, visit here.

 

Aquatic Invasive Species

Aquatic invasive species are not native to an ecosystem. Their introduction causes, or is likely to cause, harm to the economy, the environment, or to human health. Aquatic invasive species are a growing risk to parks and their values. In the United States alone, there are more than 250 non-native aquatic species.

The Indo-Pacific lionfish, Pterois spp, is the most abundant invasive species within Biscayne National Park’s waters. Learn all about lionfish and their negative impacts on the environment by visiting Biscayne National Park’s Invasive Lionfish page.

Biscayne National Park encourages visitors to safely harvest lionfish to help limit the negative effects that lionfish can have on the environment. Lionfish are equipped with venomous spines on their dorsal, anal and pelvic fins; these spines are capable of causing intense pain so lionfish must be handled with care and contact with venomous spines should be avoided. Lionfish flesh is safe for consumption and is considered a delicious meal.

Lionfish are most effectively removed by divers using pole spears or other similar equipment. A recreational fishing license is not required for recreational fishers targeting lionfish while using a pole spear, a Hawaiian sling, a handheld net, or any spearing device that is specifically designed and marketed for lionfish. A recreational fishing license is required (unless you are exempt) for all other methods of harvesting lionfish, including hook and line.

Fishing Throughout the National Park Service

We invite you to visit the Fish and Fishing website for more information about fish and fishing in the National Park Service. You will learn about conservation, different fish species, and parks that offer fishing.

 

Last updated: July 1, 2021

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Mailing Address:

9700 SW 328th Street
Sir Lancelot Jones Way

Homestead, FL 33033

Phone:

(305) 230-1144

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