Bulletin 768 f February 1975
IDEA'S FISHERIES MANAGEMENT PROGRAMS:
THEIR DEVELOPMENT, ADMINISTRATION,
AND CURRENT STATUS
Frederick James Prochaska
James Ronald Baarda
Agricultural Experiment Stations
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
J. W. Sites, Dean for Research
University of Florida, Gainesville
FLORIDA'S FISHERIES MANAGEMENT PROGRAMS:
THEIR DEVELOPMENT, ADMINISTRATION,
AND CURRENT STATUS
Frederick James Prochaska
James Ronald Baarda
Fred Prochaska is an assistant professor and James Baarda is a research
assistant in the Department of Food and Resource Economics.
The authors are indebted to Mr. Harmon Shields and members of his
staff in the Division of Marine Resources, Florida Department of Natural
Resources, for their helpful comments. Errors, omissions, and interpretations
are solely the author's responsibility, however.
This bulletin considers State regulations as established prior to the
1974 Legislative Session. Minor changes enacted in 1974 are not incorporated
This public document was promulgated at an annual
cost of $1,749.37 or a cost of $.58 per copy to present an
elementary bioeconomic model of a fishery as a tool to un-
derstand the effects of public and private factors on a fishery
system; to describe the sources, jurisdiction, and adminis-
tration of Florida's fisheries management programs; and to
explain the development of current specific fisheries and
INTRODUCTION ....... ............ ............................ ......................... 1
SOURCES, JURISDICTION, AND ADMINISTRATION OF FLORIDA'S
FISHERIES MANAGEMENT PROGRAMS -.............-..- ..............2 2
Legislation ...-........................-- .................. ...- ........- 3
Jurisdiction ......... .-.................-. .................. ..... 4
Adm inistration ..~.~.-......-. ............ .............. ..... ........... 5
REGULATORY MANAGEMENT PROGRAMS ...................................... 6
Shrimp ...-........................-- ..............-.... .... ..... ... .... ... 7
Permits and Licenses ...... ...-.. ..................... ...- ... ............... 8
Size Limitations ................................ ........ 10
Closed Seasons and Areas ...................... ....- .................... 11
Time Restrictions ............ ............ ... .... .................. 14
Oysters .............................-..................-.................. 15
Background ................ -....- -............ .. .. ....... .. 15
The Oyster Lease ...........-- .................- .... ......- ..-...- ..... 17
Gear Restrictions ..................... .................. 19
Size Regulations ...............-..... -....-.........- ...... .......... 20
Closed Seasons ............................... ......--........ ..... 21
Seed Oysters ......................... ............................ 21
Aliens and Non-Residents .............--.................. ......... 22
Boat Licenses ...... ..................... ............... 23
The Severance Tax ............- .... ....... .................. 23
Lobsters ................... ............................................. 24
Lobster Fishing Permits --........-.................-..........- 25
Gear Restrictions ......................- ....- ........ .........- ......... 25
Closed Season ..................- ....--....-.......- ......-...... 26
Condition of Lobsters ............................... ... .................. 27
Other Fisheries .... ........ ..-........ ...... .. .. ........... ....... 28
Stone Crab .... -........................ ..... ....... ... ......... ... .... 28
Blue Crab .............-.............. ....... ............ ........... ......... 28
Shad .................- .... ...........--......................--... 28
Fish Size ..................... ...... ........................... 29
Excluded Fisheries ...................................................... 29
Gear and Equipment ..........- .....- .............. .. ...--. ........ 29
Mariculture .................................. ... .. ..................... 30
BIOECONOMIC SYSTEM ....................... ................... -........ 31
Biological Considerations ....-.............. -.. .. -..............- 31
Economic Considerations .......................--..........................- 34
Bioeconomic Model ....... .....................................-- .. ........... 36
Analysis of Selected Management Programs ..................................... 40
SEAFOOD PROCESSING AND MARKETING SYSTEM ........................ 44
SUMMARY OF FISHERY MANAGEMENT PROGRAMS ...................... 46
REFERENCES CITED ............................................................. 49
Books, Reports and Articles ....................-................ ..----. 49
Legal Citations ...............--..............------------- -...........--.....-- ..-- 50
APPENDIX A: SPECIAL MANAGEMENT PROGRAMS ........................ 53
APPENDIX B: DEVELOPMENT OF PROPERTY RIGHTS FOR
OYSTER PRODUCTION AREAS ...................................... 58
LIST OF FIGURES
1. Location of specified Florida fisheries ...................------...........--.......13
2. Number of mature progeny as a function of parent
population levels ....... ......----------..........-.. .......-- -- .. .......-------.... 33
3. Equilibrium catch as a function of parent population ........................... 34
4. Industry supply functions ------.................... ------.............. ...... ................ 35
5. Simplified bioeconomic model of a fishery .........................................-....... 37
6. Effects of demand shifts on the bioeconomic system ........................... 39
7. Effects of biological controls on the mature progeny ............................ 41
8. Bioeconomic effects of biological fisheries
management programs --.........-........--....----- ...------.......--...-- ....--. 43
FLORIDA'S FISHERIES MANAGEMENT PROGRAMS
In recent years there has been a growing interest in the ef-
fective and efficient use of Florida's marine fishery resources.
Several factors are responsible for the increased interest in our
marine resources. A few of the principal factors are population
levels, demand for fishery products, and income of persons as-
sociated with fisheries. Population growth brings stress on the
marine environment through increased pollution loads, land-
fills, etc. These events are potentially detrimental to fishery
populations through effects on areas essential in the life cycle
of numerous species of fish and shellfish. Factors such as in-
creases in income and population levels have increased the de-
mand for marine recreation and the demand for seafood prod-
ucts. This increased demand for seafood products is potentially
harmful in that it may encourage over-exploitation of fishery
resources. The rather low levels of income earned by fishermen
and the increasing recognition of rural poverty problems and
the development of rural development programs made the social
and economic needs of fishing villages apparent.
As a result of the increased concern with our marine re-
sources, much marine related research is underway in our uni-
versities and State and Federal agencies. One high priority re-
search area is fisheries management. A limited amount of
empirical economic research on fishery management has been
conducted or is currently in progress. Research related to
fisheries management is concerned with short and long-run
efficient use of fishery resources both in government managed
and un-managed fisheries. A considerable amount of theorizing
has been done with respect to potential management programs
(for a review see Bromley, 1969), but relatively little economic
empirical investigation has been conducted. The purpose of this
report is more general and fundamental than the types of re-
search referred to above. The objectives are to (1) describe the
sources, jurisdiction, and administration of Florida's fisheries
management programs, (2) explain the development of current
specific fishery management programs in the State of Florida,
and (3) present an elementary bioeconomic model of a fishery
as a tool to understand the efforts of alternative private and
public factors which affect the fishery system.
This survey does not intend to analyze in detail the effects
of specific components of Florida's numerous management pro-
grams. Rather, the purpose of this research is to acquaint the
reader with the total management programs that exist in the
state. A thorough understanding of the historical development
and current status of present management programs is of ut-
most importance to researchers contemplating fishery manage-
ment research. Personnel in the newly developed Sea Grant
Marine Advisory Program should understand the present man-
agement programs in order to advise effectively Florida Fisher-
men and related individuals. In addition, fishermen, especially
those contemplating entering fisheries in which they are not
familiar with current management programs, will find this in-
The organizational plan of this bulletin is to first discuss
the political institutions necessary for the implementation of fish-
ery management programs. For Florida, the source of law pro-
viding for management programs, the agency responsible for
administering the programs and the agency's jurisdiction will
be discussed. The following sections of the bulletin report the
present programs and the historical development of Florida's
fishery management program. After the present and past pro-
grams are discussed, the reader will be acquainted with the re-
lationships within the bioeconomic system in order to more fully
understand the existing programs and to evaluate probable ef-
fects of potential management programs. When appropriate,
biological and economic information is related to specific pro-
grams. However, no in-depth analysis of specific programs is
provided, since this would require numerous individual research
projects. The final section of the paper is concerned with man-
agement of a somewhat different nature. Florida's management
of its seafood processing and marketing industry are discussed.
SOURCES, JURISDICTION, AND ADMINISTRATION OF
FLORIDA'S FISHERIES MANAGEMENT PROGRAMS
The management of an open access fishery is not like the
management of a farm. A fisherman can, of course, manage his
own operation for the greatest benefit to himself and, no doubt,
also thinks in terms of maintaining the fishery for future use.
But by the nature of fisheries and their "common property"
characteristics, each individual fisherman cannot, acting alone,
manage the fishery resource; that is, individual action may pro-
duce only insignificant results and even if the results were sub-
stantial, there would be no assurance the fisherman would be
able to reap the rewards of his efforts. Because of these peculi-
arities, management of fisheries falls largely to governmental
bodies that can make laws controlling the use of an entire fishery.
The way in which our State goes about making and implementing
fisheries management programs is the subject of this section.
The making of laws to regulate Florida's commercial fish-
ing resources is by legislation, the extent of State powers to do
so is jurisdiction, and the actual implementation of the legisla-
tion through interpretation and enforcement is its administration.
These aspects of the total management picture are discussed in
Four sources of law-those of an international nature, Fed-
eral legislation, State legislation, and local laws-are of interest
in a survey of Florida's fisheries management program. By far
the single most important source in Florida is State legislation.
International agreements are of little importance for pur-
poses of describing Florida's total program for marine resources
management. In 1964 a multi-lateral "Convention on the Conti-
nental Shelf" entered into force in the United States, but the
natural resources involved are primarily mineral and non-living
resources, though some sedentary marine animals are included.1
None of the fish discussed in this paper are included to any
Federal legislation is not specifically aimed at any fishery
of interest in this study. This is not to say that Federal programs
are not influential to Florida fisheries in general. Federal loans
and insurance are important to many Florida fishermen, and
results of research under Federal programs provide information
on which Florida and its citizens can legislate management to
make better use of the State's natural marine resources.
The most important single source of law for fishery man-
agement in the state is the Florida Legislature.2 Under the Flor-
ida Constitution the Legislature can enact two types of laws,
both of which play an important role in fisheries management.
The two types of laws are (1) general laws and (2) special
laws. General laws apply to the whole state with some important
'The text is found in 15 U.S. Treaties 471 (1964). The convention was
adopted by the United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea, Geneva,
2Almost all legislation of interest is found in Chapter 370 of Florida
Statutes, titled "Salt Water Fisheries and Conservation."
exceptions. Special laws are enacted by the State Legislature and
apply to specified counties in the state. These special laws are
very numerous, and the table in the Appendix gives an indica-
tion of special laws that are of importance to fishermen in each
Finally, municipalities and counties are a source of law but
of limited effect for fisheries management. In most cases the
State has exclusive powers for managing and controlling marine
fisheries. For example, the Attorney General of Florida issued
an opinion in 1965 3 to the effect that a municipal corporation
could not control the management of oysters in saltwater within
the city limits, and in 1971  said that a municipal corporation
could not enforce ordinances relating to wildlife and game within
the city limits since state agencies had preemptedd" this area of
law. There are a few exceptions to this general rule, but Ch.
73-208 of Florida Laws 1973 prohibits all county regulation of
method of taking, size, number, season or species.
In this study the term jurisdiction refers to the extent of the
State's powers. Generally, the jurisdiction of any state in the
Union extends throughout the territory of the state, and includes
powers to make laws regulating persons, property, and activity in
the territorial waters of the state.4 Jurisdiction may also extend
to a person who is a state citizen even when beyond state terri-
The territorial limits of Florida are peculiar to this state.
Traditionally, the United States has adhered to a limit of three
geographic miles from shore, and this is the limit of Florida's
East Coast. Because of historical developments in the post-Civil
War era, and under the ruling by the United States Supreme
Court in 1960 , territorial waters on the Gulf of Mexico ex-
tend three leagues, or nine nautical miles.5 Exact jurisdiction
limits in Florida are not settled and present some fine points of
law (e.g., Scott, 1972).6 The powers of the State are generally
3Numbers in brackets refer to Legal Citations.
4Boundaries of Florida are described in Article II, Sec. 1 of the
Florida Constitution of 1968.
5See also the "Submerged Lands Act," 43 U. S. C. Sections 1301, 1311,
1312, 1313, 1314, 1315.
6See also the Convention on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous
Zone, 15 U. S. Treaties 1606 (1964), and Chapter 21 of 16 U. S. C. dealing
with prohibition of foreign fishing vessels in U. S. territorial waters.
limited to natural resources within this limit  but may extend
beyond the limit when necessary to protect resources within
Florida, as for example, lobsters moving in and out of Florida's
The fisherman's contact with regulatory management pro-
grams is not with the Legislature but with the governmental
agency which is given the duty of implementing the laws en-
acted by the Legislature. Prior to the Governmental Reorgani-
zation Act of 1969 the agency in charge of commercial fishing
regulation in Florida was the State Board of Conservation. In
1969 the Department of Natural Resources was created, and
one of the five divisions within the Department is the Division of
Marine Resources, charged with administering fisheries manage-
ment programs. The Governor and Cabinet constitute the ad-
ministrative body for the Department of Natural Resources,
with an Executive Director in charge of the functions of the
Department, and a Director in charge of the Division of Marine
The duties of the Division of Marine Resources are specified
by the Legislature. The ultimate goal of fisheries management
through regulation is the production of the maximum sustained
yield of marine resources in Florida, consistent with the preser-
vation and protection of the breeding stock. As has been indi-
cated in the section on bioeconomics, preservation of the maxi-
mum sustained physical yield is not necessarily of greater eco-
nomic yield. The Division considers both the economics and
biology of resource use, and bases its decisions on a combination
A number of more or less specific duties of the Department
are outlined by the Legislature . These include the preserva-
tion, management, and protection of marine crustacean, shell,
and anadromous7 fishery resources of the state; regulation of
the operations of all fishermen and vessels engaged in taking
fishery resources within or without the boundaries of state
waters; issuing licenses for fishing and processing; development
of statistics concerning Florida's fishery resources; and con-
ducting and/or contracting for scientific, economic and other
studies and research. The Division of Marine Resources must
direct these various duties to the broad objective of managing
7Anadromous fishery resources refer to those species which ascend riv-
ers from the sea, at certain seasons, for breeding.
Florida's fisheries resources in the interest of all people of the
The Department is authorized by the Legislature to make
rules and regulations to assist in performing its duties of carry-
ing out the fisheries legislation . These have the force of law
and penalties are prescribed for their violation. Rules and regu-
lations are filed with the Secretary of State of Florida and are
published in newspapers and fisheries publications to inform the
public of their existence and content.
The enforcement of commercial fishing laws, rules and
regulations rests with the Division of Marine Resources through
its enforcement arm, the Marine Patrol. Officers of the Marine
Patrol are constituted police officers with powers to enforce all
laws of the State, though the greatest part of their activities is
enforcement of fisheries and boating laws. There is full coopera-
tion between the Marine Patrol and other law enforcement agen-
cies of the State.
The Division engages in various non-enforcement type ac-
tivities to achieve the goals of yield maximization. Florida has
one of the largest research programs of any state, aimed at pro-
viding biological knowledge about fisheries resources. Manager-
ial programs are structured about these biological facts, and are
designed to insure wise use of marine resources.
The demand for Florida seafood products is influenced
through public education. The Division carries on a promotional
program designed to make marine resources a more important
part of Florida's economy, and to insure continued increases in
the demand for seafood products. On the supply side, and in
addition to biological research which increases supply through
improved management, the Division engages directly in im-
proving resources. An outstanding example is the large program
for improvement of public oyster beds by application of neces-
sary cultch.8 The following sections of this paper emphasize
regulatory management, but the importance of more direct man-
agement programs conducted by governmental bodies should also
REGULATORY MANAGEMENT PROGRAMS
The majority of Florida's fisheries legislation is concerned
with managing three fisheries: shrimp, lobsters, and oysters.
8Cultch refers to any material laid down on oyster grounds to furnish
points of attachment for the spat. Oyster shells are often used for this
These three species together accounted for 58 percent of the
total value of landings in Florida for the period 1966 to 1970.
Shrimp and lobsters are the two most important species landed
in the state. The relative importance is undoubtedly part of the
reason for the management emphasis placed on these fisheries,
but in addition, characteristics of these fisheries make manage-
ment programs particularly successful. These characteristics
will be discussed in the following sections along with specific
Florida management programs. In addition to these, several
other species of fish and shellfish are subject to management pro-
grams, but less emphasis is given to these species than to shrimp,
lobsters, and oysters.
Shrimp are by far the most important species landed by
commercial fishermen in Florida, accounting for 42 percent of
the total value of landings in the state and 16 percent of the
volume during the 1966-1970 period.9 In 1970 commercial shrimp
fishermen landed over 31 million pounds valued at $15.7 million.
These values are considerably less than in the early 1950's. How-
ever, a more detailed analysis of Florida shrimp landings shows
that most of the decline in Florida landings is due to a decline in
catch in the Campeche area near Mexico. The catch in Florida wa-
ters has remained relatively stable during the past two decades.
The management of the shrimping industry in Florida be-
gan with the enactment of the first statutes on shrimp fishing
in 1921.10 In the following 50 years, various methods were used
to regulate the use of this natural resource. These methods in-
clude establishment of a closed season, limitations on the mini-
mum size for shrimp caught in Florida waters, and restrictions
on the types of equipment that can be used to catch shrimp.
An act of 1953 set out the general policies to be followed
by the Department of Natural Resources (then the Department
of Conservation) in carrying out its functions . The stated
purpose of regulating shrimp fishing is to encourage the produc-
tion of the maximum sustainable yield of shrimp consistent with
the preservation and the protection of breeding stock. The judg-
ments on alternative management programs are made by the
Department of Natural Resources after taking into consideration
9Computed from (Florida Department of Natural Resources).
'oShrimp regulation laws are found in Fla. Stat. Sees. 370.15, 370.151,
370.153 (1971). Sec. 370.153 contains special laws applicable only in Clay,
Duval, Putnam and St. Johns Counties.
the recommendations of the various marine laboratories as well as
those of interested and experienced groups and private citizens.
In addition to the general rule-making powers granted to
the Department of Natural Resources, the section of law dealing
specifically with shrimp regulations states that the rules and
regulations of the Department concerning shrimp fishing are
to control the method, manner and equipment used in taking
shrimp, and to limit and define the areas of permissible shrimp
Permits and Licenses
Aliens and Non-residents. Requiring a permit or license of
anyone engaged in using the state's natural resources is a com-
monly used means of managing a fishery. One important use of
permits and licenses by the State is to reserve the benefits of its
own natural resources to its citizens by placing some special re-
straints on non-citizens. Though there are no present provisions
for special control of aliens and non-residents in the shrimp reg-
ulation sections of Florida Law, such special control has been
used in the past.
In 1921 an act provided that aliens and non-residents could
not take shrimp from the waters along the Atlantic Coast of
Florida unless they were part of the crew or the owner of a
licensed boat . At that time the term "alien" was not defined,
but it was generally used to mean a person who was not a citizen
of the United States. A "non-resident" was defined as any person
other than an alien who had not resided continuously in Florida
for at least one year. The boat license mentioned was required
of every boat owned or partially owned by an alien or non-resi-
dent. The cost of the license (the "license tax") was $2,000 per
In 1929 the provisions of the 1921 act were modified slightly
. A non-resident was redefined to be a person (other than
an alien) who had not resided continuously in Florida for one
year or in the county of his Florida residence for 6 months. That
same act provided for reciprocal agreements between Florida
and other states giving the citizens of the other state fishing
rights in exchange for corresponding actions for Florida resi-
dents by the other state.
An act in 1939 partially repealed the 1921 law but left the
1929 law in effect . In 1945 another agreement was made
that increased the residency requirements from 6 months to 12
months in the county of residency . In 1953 the restrictions
on aliens and non-residents were removed from this section of
law dealing specifically with shrimp fishing .
Landing Permits. Present law requires a permit for land-
ing shrimp in Florida. This requirement was instituted in 1957
. Permits are issued by the Department of Natural Re-
source, Division of Marine Resources. In 1971, 2,380 landing per-
mits were issued in the state.
Fishing Permits (Present Law). Permits to take shrimp
from the waters of Florida are required for both live bait shrimp
production and for non-bait commercial shrimp fishing, a sep-
arate permit being required for each type of fishing. Permits to
take shrimp for commercial (non-bait) purposes are obtained
from the Division of Marine Resources. The fee is presently $50.
These permits must remain on board the shrimping vessels and
are subject to inspection at all times. The permit is subject to
suspension or revocation with a violation of the regulations per-
taining to shrimp fishing, or when it is apparent that revocation
is required in the best interests of saltwater conservation.
Taking shrimp for live bait purposes also requires a permit.
As with the commercial shrimping, a permit may be refused
when it is apparent that such a denial would be in the best
interests of saltwater conservation. There is also a fee of $50.
As with the commercial permit, the permit must remain
on board the vessel at all times and is subject to inspection. It
may be suspended for one year on the conviction of violating
provisions of the law. It is subject to revocation for violation of
shrimp fishing regulations, or when any particular live bait
shrimp producing operation is not in the best interests of the
State and its citizens.
Historical Development. The history of shrimp fishing
permits is relatively short. Permits for shrimping for live bait
were first required by an 1957 act and the permits for commer-
cial non-bait shrimping were first required by an 1965 act .
Both acts still govern the present regulations with respect to
Boat Licenses. In 1969 a license tax was imposed on all
commercial shrimp boats over 40 feet in length . The tax
was $30 plus $5 for each crew member, and was in addition to
all other licenses and taxes. The 1969 act establishing this tax
specified that this money was to be used to enforce the regulatory
fishery management programs. This boat license requirement
for shrimp vessels is no longer in effect.
Background. To understand some of the reasons for size
regulations, described in this section, and for closed seasons and
areas, described in the following section, a knowledge of the life
of the shrimp is necessary." Three species of shrimp-the white,
pink and brown-make up the major commercial catch in Flor-
ida; although the life cycles vary among species, the following
description applies generally to all.
Spawning takes place in deep water where the eggs are re-
leased and hatch in about 24 hours. The microscopic stages make
their way to shallow water or inland waters and begin to grow,
staying on the bottom in the grass flats. There they begin rapid
growth, moving toward deeper water as their size increases.
They move to deep water to spawn as the life cycle completes it-
self, usually in about a year. The actual times of the year that
each stage is reached depends on the species and the particular
location. Spawning usually occurs in early spring, with the sub-
sequent movement into shallow waters. Movement to deeper wa-
ter takes place in late summer and fall, again with a wide varia-
tion with location and species. In the Tortugas beds (Figure 8)
spawning seems to occur to some degree year-round.
The major intent of the size limitation, closed season, and
closed area laws has been to protect the smaller shrimp until
they reach a more mature age and size. It has been suggested
that a large number of spawning shrimp is not necessary for
maintenance of shrimp population, and the regulations are prob-
ably more for economic than preservation purposes, protecting
small shrimp until they reach a size at which the price paid per
pound is higher.
Size limitations would seem an appropriate type of regula-
tion to protect the smaller shrimp, but because of fishing prac-
tices, size limitations do not effectively protect small shrimp.
When commercial fishing is done with a trawl net, the small
shrimp caught are dead when taken on board the vessel. Throw-
ing back the small dead shrimp to meet size requirements does
nothing, of course, to protect the undersized population.
Present Law. A small shrimp is defined by law to be one
of a size requiring more than 47 with heads or 70 without heads
to make a pound." Possession of more than 5 percent undersized
"The Marine Laboratory of the Board of Conservation has published
a number of papers dealing with shrimp in Florida. These include (Idyll,
1950; De Sylva, 1954; Woodburn, 1957; Iverison, 1959; Jones, 1961;
shrimp in a cargo is considered a violation of the size limitation
law. Law provides that random samples are to be taken from
the cargo at least five different places in the catch, with each
sample consisting of at least 5 pounds. The average count of
the samples is to be measured and considered the count for the
Historical Development. The first specification of minimum
size for shrimp was enacted in 1935, with the minimum being
45 headless shrimp to make a pound . However, two years
later an act abolished the minimum size established by the pre-
ceding session of the Legislature. In 1945 a minimum size was
re-established, with a count of 60 shrimp with heads to a pound
. An act of 1947 increased the minimum size to that of 55
to the pound, heads off . The present size restrictions and
sampling procedures were established in 1965 .
Closed Seasons and Areas
A second method of protecting small shrimp (a method now
abandoned in Florida) is a closed season. This method has some
difficulties because of variation in fishing locations and shrimp
species' life habits, and because of the migrating habits of
The most effective regulation is that of closing areas, either
permanently or by test measuring shrimp to determine their
size at a particular time. Florida has some nursery areas per-
manently closed to commercial shrimp fishing (except live bait
fishing) and the other shrimping areas are checked periodically
and opened or closed according to shrimp size.
Present Law. At the present time in Florida there is no set
closed season on shrimping, though in the past the establish-
ment of closed seasons has been a method of shrimp fishery
management. At present, areas are opened or closed to shrimp
fishing on the basis of shrimp size, determined by a series of tests
prescribed by the Legislature.
Two areas in Florida's waters are restricted to allow only
live bait shrimping. One of these is a part of Santa Rosa Sound,
in which live bait shrimp fishing is allowed by permit, and the
other is an area known as the Tortugas shrimp beds in the vicin-
ity of the Island of Dry Tortugas (Figure 8) in the Florida Keys,
where live bait shrimping is permitted when conservation
12This size criterion is based on biological studies by the Division of
principles indicate no harm would result from such activities.
There are special laws limiting shrimp fishing in Biscayne Bay.
The procedures for closing or opening an area to shrimp
fishing are described by law, with particular reference to the
counties along the Atlantic Coast from the Georgia line to and
including Brevard County. Florida courts have required adher-
ence to the procedure set out by the Legislature . A pattern
of ten or more "stations" or locations in the shrimping grounds
along the coast was established in 1967 . At each station rea-
sonably frequent series of samples are taken, consisting of at
least 10 samples within a week, and the size of the shrimp taken
in the samples is measured. If the sampling indicates that the
shrimp in a particular area are undersized, that area is closed to
shrimp fishing (except for live bait purposes), the closure to be
accompanied by newspaper announcements and public posting
of notice. When these areas are sampled and the shrimp found
to be of sufficient size, the area is again opened to shrimp fishing.
Historical Development. The first statute dealing with
shrimp fishing in Florida, enacted in 1921, established a closed
season for shrimp fishing in waters along the Gulf of Mexico
. This closed season was from January 1st to March 5th of
each year. In 1929 an act established a closed season on shrimp
fishing on the East Coast of Florida from May 1st to August 1st,
excepting shrimp caught in cast nets for personal use .
In 1935 an act dealt with the closed season in the Gulf, plac-
ing two closed seasons on shrimp fishing within one mile of
shore or within bays or sounds ). The first of these seasons
was from February 1st to April 1st and the second from August
1st to October 1st. Apparently the prior closed season remained
in effect from one mile to the territorial limits of Florida.
In 1945 a new closed season for the Atlantic Coast pro-
hibited shrimp fishing from March 15th . In 1951 this closed
season was changed from April 30th to May 31st .
In 1961 a closed season was placed on shrimp fishing in
Santa Rosa Sound (Figure 1) . This season was from Jan-
uary 1st to June 1st of each year, and remained so until the area
was closed to all shrimp fishing year-round in 1963 .
In 1953 provisions were made by the Legislature for the
variable opening or closing of any particular area depending on
shrimp size . The act allowed closing of an area when a
majority of shrimp taken were undersized. Shrimp are measured
by the number required to make a pound by weight, and the 1953
act provided that small shrimp were defined to be shrimp that
Santa Rosa Sound
SDry Tortugas )
^ '- --
Figure 1. Location of specified Florida fisheries
required more than 45 with heads and 67 without heads to make
In 1957 the special conservation district called the Tortugas
shrimp beds was defined and regulations on its use were de-
tailed . These beds were discovered late in 1949 and rapidly
became the most important source of shrimp in Florida. An
extensive description of the area included was contained in the
act. To establish the need for closing an area, the Board of
Conservation (now the Department of Natural Resources) was
directed to take samples by net from the conservation area at
periodic intervals. When the catch from these test runs indicated
that the preponderance of shrimp were of such small size that
the continuous taking of shrimp for commercial purposes would
be harmful, the conservation area could be closed for shrimp
fishing. The act also specified that it was the intention of the
Legislature that the size of the catch considered a minimum was
an average catch of 50 count or smaller, heads off.
When an area was to be closed, notice of the action was re-
quired in newspapers and by radio broadcasts, and proper buoys
and markers were to give warning of the closed areas. Periodic
checks of closed areas were to be carried out and when the catch
indicated that the shrimp were of sufficient size, notice of at
least 48 hours was required to inform the fishermen that the
area would be re-opened.
Several changes in this act establishing and regulating the
Tortugas shrimp beds were made in 1961 . The general boun-
dary descriptions changed somewhat and two nursery areas
were defined, perhaps in response to a Florida court case that
found part of the shrimp beds outside Florida territorial water
and not subject to Florida laws . These nursery areas were
closed to shrimp fishing at all times except for live bait shrimp
fishing. A new minimum size for shrimp catch in the test runs
was 60 count, heads off, average catch.
Ten years after the establishment of the Tortugas shrimp
bed and institution of the system of opening and closing the area
depending on size of shrimp rather than a particular date, this
general type of regulation was instituted along the Atlantic
Coast, the area being from the Georgia line to and including
Brevard County . As at present, a pattern of ten or more
stations at various locations in the shrimping grounds along
the coast was to be established. At each station the series of
samples was to be taken. An undersized average shrimp count
required that the area tested be closed until shrimp size increased
to the minimum.
In 1970, the Tortugas shrimp beds were redefined .
Shrimp fishing for any purpose other than live bait purposes
was prohibited, and any vessel dragging nets in the area without
a live bait permit for the area and not equipped with live bait
shrimp tanks was to be considered in violation of the act.
Night trawling in the waters of any Florida county on the
Atlantic Coast (down to and including Brevard County) is pro-
hibited except in the months of June, July and August. This law
was enacted in 1959 . This regulation was desired by shrimp
fishermen in the area because it was their belief that preventing
night fishing increased their catch during the day. Two species
of shrimp are nocturnal, that is, they are active at night and
are best caught by night fishing. These are the brown and pink
shrimp. Those caught in the day are the white shrimp, caught in
the Northeast Florida beds. The months of June, July and August
are active brown shrimp months in this area, which is the reason
the prohibition does not apply in these months. The result is
that white shrimp are caught in these beds in the day from late
August to December, the brown shrimp season is from June 1st
to August 31st, and January through May is the "off" season.
The management of the oyster industry has a long and in-
teresting history in Florida, beginning in 1881. This management
is still in a state of change.13 The more traditional methods of
management found in other fisheries, such as restrictions on gear,
the establishment of closed seasons, and minimum size controls,
are present in the oyster industry. However, the most interesting
type of regulation is quite different than laws controlling other
types of marine animals. Because of the sessile nature of adult
oysters, leasing is employed as a means of management. This
method of management provides for the leasing of a part of the
ocean floor to one person who, by the lease, has the sole right of
harvesting oysters in the leased area. Before discussing the de-
tails of Florida's oyster management programs, a review of
basic characteristics of oyster populations will be beneficial for
an understanding of individual oyster regulations.
The life cycle of the oyster is unique among the types of
fisheries included in this paper because of its attachment to a
single place during its adult life.14 Eggs are released directly into
the water and are fertilized by coincidental contact with the
sperm which have also been released into the water. The early
stage of the oyster's life is free swimming, but this stage soon
ends when the oyster sinks to the ocean floor. The small oyster,
13Oyster regulation laws are found in Fla. Stat. Secs. 370.16, 370.161
14The Marine Laboratory has published several papers on oyster cul-
ture; this report relies heavily on (Ingle, 1949).
with shell, crawls about on a single foot until a smooth, solid
surface is located. It then attaches its left shell and becomes a
permanent resident of that location. This location is in water
bodies with reduced salt content, usually in bays where fresh
water flows into the ocean. Growth to harvestable size requires
about three years, but depends on environmental conditions in
which the oyster lives.
Because the oyster grows in fixed beds, the possibilities are
great for both the culture of oyster production areas and for the
rapid destruction of oyster beds. The non-mobility of oysters
makes oyster culture possible in that the cultivating agent is
assured of the location of the oyster when the appropriate time
for harvesting occurs. This is in contrast to most (or all) other
marine animals harvested by commercial fishermen. However,
before an individual fisherman will allocate resources to the
cultivation of oysters, he must be assured of his property rights
with respect to harvesting. The State can and does grant such
property rights to its citizens. The granting of such property
rights not only provides profitable alternatives to oystermen
but, in addition, theoretically increases the long-term (maximum
sustainable) yield of oysters for given areas. The oysterman
with exclusive rights to specified areas has the economic in-
centive to cultivate (provide suitable oyster habitats and seed
oysters) since he is assured of his exclusive right in harvesting.
In addition, the exclusive rights encourage the oysterman to
consider longer planning horizons. As such, he is likely neither to
over fish an area in any one time period, nor use any destructive
methods of cultivation. These considerations, suggested by theo-
ry, have been supported in practice. It is estimated that 13.2
percent (185,000 acres) of the oyster-producing area in the
territorial waters of the United States is under private owner-
ship and this 13.2 percent produces about 50 percent of total
oyster crop (Loosanoff). This is particularly significant when
one considers that most states do not permit the best oyster bot-
toms or natural reefs to be privately owned or controlled.
In Florida, as of December 31, 1971, 311 oyster leases were
granted by the Department of Natural Resources. A total of
6,518 acres are included in the 311 leases, giving an average of
approximately 21 acres per lease. In 1969 approximately 8 per-
cent of the oysters harvested in Florida were from private leases
(computed from unpublished National Marine Fishery Service
data). The relative productivity of private versus public beds
cannot be computed because the number of acres in public beds
is not available.
As mentioned, the large majority of the oyster-producing
bottom is designated as public beds. For these areas the economic
incentives for cultivation and conservation are not provided to
the individual fishermen. It is therefore necessary for the State
to regulate harvesting to prevent destructive use of public beds.
In addition, the State may provide the cultural practices on
public beds which are provided by individual fishermen on pri-
vate beds (the State of Florida does provide considerable cultural
practices to public beds). Funds for State activities in regulating
harvesting and oyster culture often require that special taxes,
landing licenses and permit fees be collected from oystermen.
The various regulatory oyster management programs in the State
of Florida are discussed in detail in the following sections.
The Oyster Lease
Present Law. As discussed above, a lease for harvesting
oysters is a reservation of ocean floor by a person which permits
him to use it to grow oysters, and prevents anyone else from
intruding and interfering with the oyster-growing operations.
Not all sea floor is available for leasing in the State of Florida,
since oyster reefs are reserved by law for the use of the general
public. A natural reef is defined to be a naturally occurring area
of ocean floors on which oysters grow in quantities large enough
to attract the general public to take the oysters. Natural oyster
reefs cannot be included in a lease unless the area covered by
the reef is less than 100 square yards or, if larger, the oysters
are not of sufficient quantity to be used by the general public.
(The Division of Marine Resources makes the decision as to
what is considered sufficient quantity.)15
Once the area desired is found, an application is made to the
Division of Marine Resources for a lease to the bed. The applica-
tion requires a reasonably definite description of the location
and amount of land covered. The application is also a request that
the area be surveyed, if it has not been surveyed previously, and
a map be made of the area covered. The estimated cost of a sur-
vey is to be submitted with the application since the survey ex-
pense is borne by the applicant.
When the survey has been made, the map filed with the
Division, and the cost paid by the applicant, the lease and map
are made in duplicate with one copy going to the person applying
15In one county, Franklin, a recent act specifies that no new oyster
bottom leases are to be issued . This restriction on leasing applies to
no other area.
for the lease, and the other copy being kept by the Division and
registered in a special lease book.
In the case where two applicants desire the same area of
ocean floor to lease, the first to file is given the lease. A similar
conflict is that between the person filing for the lease and cer-
tain "riparian" owners, owners of bordering land that by pre-
vious law have some rights to the underwater surface. If such
riparian owners exist, they must be given notice of the applica-
tion. They have the right to decide to lease and develop the bed
themselves to the exclusion of the applicant. If they do not wish
to do so, however, the lease may be granted to the applicant.
One of the first requirements placed on the new leaseholder
is that of marking his oyster bed. The bed is marked off by the
use of ranges, monuments, stakes, buoys, etc., as is necessary to
assure that the location and limits of the leased land can be easily
and accurately found as well as patrolled. The marking must
conform to the standards described by law for safety in naviga-
tion. The Division can specify in the lease itself the types, shape,
size and height of the markers and corner posts used. All of the
markers, etc., must be kept in good condition at all times, and
failure to do so may subject the leaseholder to a fine.
After the lease has become effective, the leaseholder has to
meet two additional obligations to keep the lease. One of these is
the annual payment of rent and the other is the development of
the leased area into a producing oyster bed.
For the first ten years of the lease, the annual rent is $5.00
per acre or fraction of an acre, payable by January 1st each
year, though leases in existence before 1972 have a different
rent rate. At the end of the ten-year period, the rent is increased
to an amount that depends on the assessed value of the area as
an oyster-producing bed. Included in the area rent determination
are the oyster producing cost and returns, nearness to factories,
transportation and other things to help determine the value of
the bed. If these rents are not paid, the Division may cancel the
lease, seize the oysters and improvements on the bed, and open
the area up to new lease applicants by bid.
The second requirement for maintaining a lease is the de-
velopment of the bed. Within one year after the lease begins, the
leaseholder must begin bona fide cultivation of the bed. Cultiva-
tion includes the addition of at least two hundred barrels of
oyster shell or its equivalent in cultch to each acre of the bed. At
least one-fourth of the bed must be under cultivation by the end
of the second year, and each year thereafter an additional one-
fourth must be cultivated until the whole area is under cultiva-
tion. If these cultivation practices are not met, the Department
can revoke the lease and return the area to public domain. How-
ever, planting operations may be suspended temporarily when
certain conditions make effective cultivation impossible.
If someone feels that a natural reef has wrongly been in-
cluded in a private lease, he is allowed to present a petition to
the Division within six months of the granting of the lease. Upon
receiving the petition and a $10.00 fee, the Division investigates
the charge, giving the leaseholder an opportunity to be heard. If
it is determined that a natural reef has in fact been included in
the lease, that part of the lease covering the natural reef is can-
celed, and the leaseholder is required to mark the natural reef
by buoys, etc., showing that it is a public reef.
An oyster bed lease is inheritable, transferable, and can be
mortgaged and pledged. It is also subject to seizure and sale for
debts. However, before the lease is transferred, the written per-
mission of the Division of Marine Resources must be obtained,
and a payment of a $50.00 transfer fee must be made. In addition,
there is a restriction that a lease cannot be sold or bartered until
it has been in existence for at lease two years, during which time
the required cultivation has been done.
Historical Development. The leasing system's predecessor
was introduced in 1881, consisting of a grant system with many
of the features of the lease system existing today. Because of its
length, the detailed history of this type of oyster management is
placed in Appendix B.
Present Law. Several restrictions regulate the kinds of
equipment that can be used in harvesting oysters. The types of
restrictions depend on whether the harvesting is being done from
a natural reef owned by the State, or from privately leased
On natural State reefs the oysters must be picked by hand
tongs in areas where the general depth of the water is less than
12 feet, or unless in the opinion of the department, the area, re-
gardless of depth, is too open and exposed to be fished properly
with hand tongs. When harvesting on State reefs is not limited
to hand tongs, either because of depth or exposure, the use of
scrapers or dredges is permitted. However, these can be used
only if a license for their use is issued by the Division, with one
license being required for each vessel using a dredge or scraper.
An annual police fee of $25.00 is charged for the license, and
the applicant for a license must give a $3,000.00 bond to guaran-
tee that the equipment will not be illegally used (in 1971 eight
dredge permits were issued).
The holders of leases may use any equipment they desire,
such as scrapers and dredges, on their own oyster beds. However,
a permit to do so is required and a $3,000.00 bond must be
posted to assure that the equipment will not be illegally used.
When the equipment is used exclusively on private grounds
and not on the natural reefs, there is no charge for the equip-
Historical Development. The essential law as described above
was instituted by the act of 1913 . It has remained the same
for almost 60 years.
Present Law. All oysters taken from Florida waters must
be culled to remove small ones. When the oysters are taken from
the natural, publicly owned beds, all oysters that measure less
than three inches across at their largest dimension must be
returned by scattering them broadcast. When the oysters are
taken from privately controlled beds, the oysters less than three
inches across at their largest dimension can be either returned
to the private beds or scattered broadcast over natural beds.
Certain exceptions apply if the oysters are attached too closely
to permit proper separations, and to oysters used for seeding
Law enforcement officers are permitted to measure all or
part of a cargo of oysters to determine if the culling requirements
have been met. Possession or transportation of undersized oysters
is a violation of law.
Historical Development. The first culling requirements in
Florida law were enacted in 1893 . All oysters less than 21/
inches in length were to be returned to the bed from which they
were removed. Two years later the requirements were changed
to specify that oysters taken were not to contain more than 3
percent culls. The size limitation was changed from 21/ inches
to 3 inches. In 1923 the 3 percent cull limit per cargo was in-
creased to 5 percent, and search and measurement of a lot and
cargo was specifically authorized to enforce the law . In
1923 an act provided a minimum size for oysters taken for the
can stock trade of 3/2 inches from hinge to mouth .
In 1961 an act modified the culling requirements by chang-
ing the minimum size measurement from that made from hinge
to mouth to a measurement made at the greatest dimension .
The possession percentage of undersized oysters constituting a
violation of the law was increased from 5 percent to 25 percent
in any lot or cargo. In 1972 the undersized percentage limit was
changed from 25 to 15 percent and sampling procedures for
determining possession percentage were outlined by statute .
Present Law. Between June 1st and September 1st the tak-
ing of oysters for sale from natural reefs is prohibited. This
closed season does not apply to privately leased beds, but anyone
possessing oysters during this period must prove that they were
taken from private beds or from outside Florida waters. There
are certain exceptions to this closed season in the case of oysters
taken for bedding purposes.
Historical Development. Regulation of oyster harvesting by
season began early in the history of oyster management legisla-
tion. In 1893 the closed season was instituted, and the period
included was between May 1st and October 1st, though collect-
ing oysters for home consumption was allowed during this closed
season . Six years later the period was lengthened to include
the period from April 15th to October 1st . The legislation
of 1913 retained the April 15th to October 1st period, but leased
bottoms were specifically excluded from the closed season pro-
hibition. For those persons possessing oysters during this period
the burden rested on them to show that the oysters were either
taken outside Florida territorial waters or were taken from
private leases. An exception to the closed season was retained in
that oysters could be taken at any time for personal consumption,
but only up to one barrel per day in shell or two gallons per day
shucked. The law providing for the closed season now in effect,
from June 1st to September 1st, was enacted in 1967..
Present Law. Exceptions to the culling requirements and to
the closed season allow seed oysters to be taken to cultivate
private lease bottom for oyster production. The Division of
Marine Resources regulates the taking of oysters to be used for
seeding privately leased beds. Certain specified areas may be
designated for gathering seed oysters, and the amount taken is
regulated. Seed oysters may be taken at any time during the year.
Application for obtaining seed oysters is made to the Division.
The Division may assign an area and time for taking oysters
and may supervise the operation (in 1971, 62 oyster planting
permits were issued).
Historical Development. The first mention of special regula-
tions concerning seed oysters was found in a 1903 act that al-
lowed the removal of "coon" or natural oysters not meeting
the existing culling standards for purposes of planting on
artificial beds by persons holding a grant of the bottom . It
was also stipulated that the oysters removed were to be used
in the beds located in the same county, and that the closed season
Ten years later the 1913 act gave leaseholders requiring
seed oysters to cultivate their beds restricted access to natural
oyster beds . If the leased bed was two or more miles from
any known natural reef, the leaseholder was allowed to fish
for bedding purposes from the natural reefs without tax or
charge, taking unculled oysters for seeding except during the
period between February 1st and April 1st of each year. This
fishing could be done only with the written permission of the
Shellfish Commissioner; and only 200 barrels of seed oysters
were allowed per acre of the lease, unless the first planting was
destroyed by unavoidable accident or natural calamity. The
regular closed season in effect at the time, April 15th to October
1st, was not applicable to gathering oysters for bedding purposes.
In 1967 gathering unculled oysters for bedding purposes
was allowed beyond the new closed season. At present, as men-
tioned, there is no closed season on bedding oyster collection .
Aliens and Non-Residents
There are no present restrictions on aliens and non-residents
in the oyster regulations of Florida law. There have been special
restrictions in the past, however. The description of the historical
development of the oyster lease includes some prohibitions
against ownership of the leases by aliens and non-residents.
In addition to the restrictions on lease ownership, a.1915
act added a licensing requirement for aliens and non-residents
. Any alien or non-resident of Florida taking oysters for
other than personal consumption was required to obtain a special
license to do so. The fee for the license was $10.00. A resident
was defined by that act as a person maintaining continuous resi-
dence for one year in the state, and actually residing at that place
for the next six months preceding the application for a fishing
license. This restriction is not now in effect.
There is no special requirement in the oyster section of
Florida law for a license to gather oysters. The 1913 act included
a provision that required all boats engaged in the oyster industry
to have a license . An application was to be made to the Com-
missioner of Agriculture giving specified information about the
boat, its owner and the crew, whereupon the Commissioner reg-
istered the boat or vessel and issued the license. The cost of the
license was determined by the carrying capacity of the boat. The
rate was 50c per ton based on a standard twenty barrels to a ton.
The boat was to be submitted for measurement and the carrying
capacity determined by rules set out by the Commissioner.
The act of 1913 also dealt with boat identification. When the
license for the boat or vessel had been issued, the license number
was to be painted on its bow or displayed on the peak in figures
of specified size. Also, any boat or vessel gathering oysters at
night, from either natural reefs or from privately leased beds,
was to display a light visible from all directions. This lighting
requirement is still in effect.
In 1921 the fee schedule for licensing boats engaged in tak-
ing oysters was changed . Instead of the rate based on a
determined oyster-holding capacity, the new schedule provided
for a fee of $1.00 for a boat smaller than 16 feet long by 4 feet
wide. For large boats an additional fee of 20 was required for
every foot of length or beam over the 16 by 4 feet base. In addi-
tion to the fee schedule change, boats used in the fishing industry
already licensed for other purposes were not required to obtain
a special separate license if they engaged in oyster harvesting.
The Severance Tax
At present, there is no severance tax on oysters removed
from Florida's waters. This was an important source of revenue
in the history of oyster legislation in Florida, however, and
existed from 1913 to 1959.
A source of funds for carrying out the act of 1913, as well
as protecting natural and private bedding grounds and improv-
ing and enlarging natural reefs, was the institution of a privilege
tax on all oysters removed from Florida waters, whether from
natural reefs or private bedding grounds . As one of the con-
ditions on which the State consented to the harvesting of oysters
from natural reefs and the rental of water bottoms for oyster
cultivation, a "special assessment forced contribution, or priv-
ilege tax" of 2 per barrel was levied on all oysters removed from
natural reefs or privately leased grounds. Oysters opened before
being measured in the shell were taxed at Ic per gallon. An ex-
ception was made for oysters removed from natural reefs for
bedding purposes. The tax applied to all oysters taken, whether
for sale or consumption. The standard barrel was described by
In 1921 an act eliminated the 2 per barrel privilege tax on
oysters for personal consumption making it applicable only to
those taken for sale . The income from the privilege tax was
earmarked to go to the county in which collected. It was to be set
aside in a planting fund and used to plant the public oyster reefs
of the state.
In 1923 the Legislature appropriated a sum of $50,000 to
increase cultivation efforts on natural reefs . The privilege
tax on oysters was increased by 3S per barrel on those taken from
natural reefs for what was called the raw stock trade, to be paid
to the general fund until the $50,000 had been paid back to the
State. After that the tax was to be put into a newly created Spe-
cial Shellfish Planting Fund. A similar appropriation was made
two years later, and an additional 3 per barrel privilege tax was
levied on all oysters taken from natural reefs for purposes of
the can stock trade. The funds were to be used to improve oyster
planting practices on natural reefs of the state, and after the
loan was repaid the tax was to go into the Special Shellfish Plant-
ing Fund. As mentioned, the severance tax on oysters was abol-
ished by an act of 1959, and does not now exist in Florida .
In recent years Florida's spiny lobster has become the second
most important species landed commercially. The value of lobster
landings to Florida fishermen reached nearly $6 million in 1970.
This compares with less than $0.5 million in 1952. Most of this
growth has taken place since 1964. Between 1964 and 1970 land-
ings increased from 3.6 million pounds to 9.9 million pounds.
During this same time period (1965-1970) most of Florida's
lobster management programs were put into effect.
The goal of Florida's lobster management program is stated
in the intent of the legislation providing for the management
program.'1 It is the expressed intent of the legislation to main-
tain the lobster (crawfish) industry for the economy of the
state. More specifically, Florida laws regulate the lobster fishing
1OLobster regulation laws are found in Fla. Stat. sees. 370.14, 370.141
industry for the purposes of insuring and maintaining the highest
possible production of lobster, or in other words, the maximum
sustained yield. To achieve this goal several types of regulations
have been placed on the industry. During the nearly 40 years
prior to 1965, management was mainly concerned with the pro-
tection of the lobster population through controls on minimum
size and fishing seasons. These regulations are still of importance
in the total management program. Gear regulations were em-
phasized in the 1965 legislation. Perhaps more important in the
1965 legislation was the emphasis on the need for effective regu-
lating policies through the use of marking by permit number,
and gear and boat identification for surveillance.
Lobster Fishing Permits
In order to effectively manage the lobster fishery in Florida,
permits are required. A permit is obtained from the State upon
the application by the owner of the gear used to catch lobsters.
The present cost of the permit is $50 (in 1971, 1,167 permits were
issued). It is unlawful for any person or boat to have more than
24 lobsters without a permit, except for possession by a licensed
seafood dealer. The permit number is used to mark boats and
gear as described later, and the permit is to be carried at all times
on the fishing boat, subject to inspection by law enforcement
officers. A permit can be suspended or permanently revoked upon
the arrest and conviction of a permit holder for violation of any
of the lobster fishing laws. The proceeds from the issuance of
permits are to be used by the Department of Natural Resources
for the enforcement of the laws regulating lobster fishing by
aerial and other surveillance.
Florida's lobster management program includes two types
of gear regulations. One of these is a requirement for marking
the traps, buoys and boats with the permit number and a color
coding. The other gear and/or vessels regulation places limits on
the physical construction of lobster traps.
Legislation introduced in 1965 requires that permit numbers
(in figures at least three inches high) be placed permanently on
each trap or other device used to catch lobsters, as well as on
the buoy used to mark the traps . The permit number is also
to be permanently displayed on the boat so as to be easily iden-
tified. In addition, the 1965 act requires the traps and buoys be
color coded. In 1970 the color code was also specified for the
boat, to permit identification of the boat and traps from the air.
The 1965 law made specific the types of gear that could be
used to catch lobster. Wood slat traps can be used, provided that
their dimensions do not exceed 3 x 2 x 2 feet or the equivalent in
cubic feet. The law requires that the constructed traps be of wood
slats so that when a trap is lost it will be broken up with time
and thus will not continue to catch lobsters which would then be
lost for both breeding stock or human consumption. The wood
slat traps can be protected on the sides by reinforcement with
16 gauge, one inch poultry wire, though the bottom and top can-
not be so reinforced. Partial wire reinforcing is allowed to pro-
tect the trap from the "ravages of turtles." Ice cans, drums and
other similar devices are permitted provided that they are not
equipped with grains, spears, grabs, hooks or similar devices.
Any gear used to capture lobsters must be marked by a
buoy. Up to 20 traps can be attached to a trot-line, and the line
is marked at each end by the attachment of a flag buoy. Buoys
used must be of sufficient strength and buoyancy to remain con-
tinuously afloat or a timed flotation device can be used. Any
device not conforming to the specifications listed, or not carrying
a valid permit number, may be seized and destroyed by enforce-
ment officials. It is unlawful to interfere with anyone's traps or
markers without the owner's permission.
Present Law. The spawning season in south Florida, where
lobsters are caught commercially, is generally from March to
July of each year, with the peak in April.17 The present closed
season for lobster is between March 31 and August 1st (which
corresponds to the spawning season). Traps may be placed in the
water and baited ten days prior to the open season and must be
removed within five days after the closing of the season, though
no lobsters can be taken during the closed season.
It should be noted that the effects of the closed season on
the lobster population is not known with certainty. It is theorized
that many (or most) of the lobsters landed in south Florida are
attributable to the parent population of lobsters in the Caribbean.
Tagging studies suggest the larvae are deposited near the Florida
coast by the Gulf Stream. In addition, it is suspected that a large
number of the larvae produced by the Florida population is
carried northward by the ocean currents.
17The Marine Laboratory has published several papers dealing with
lobster in Florida. These include (Dawson, 1951), (Ingle, 1963), (Robinson,
1963) and (Sweat, 1968).
Historical Development. The 1919 act, the first dealing with
lobster fishing in Florida, established a three month closed season
of from March 1st to June 1st . Excluded from the closed
season were lobsters taken for bait purposes. In 1921 the closed
season was changed to the period between March 21st and June
21st , and in 1929 it was extended to a four month period
from March 21st to July 21st . In 1953 is was set between
April 15th and August 15th , and in 1955 the closed season
was placed at its present interval of March 31st to August 1st
. The 1965 act provided for setting traps before the season
and removing them after .
Condition of Lobsters
Present Law. Three types of restrictions on the condition of
lobster caught in Florida exist at present. These deal with mini-
mum size, separation of head and tail, and egg-bearing females.
The minimum size allowed is a 3 inch carapace or a 51/ inch
tail, though the tail measurement cannot be applied unless the
tail is disconnected from the front part of the lobster for mea-
surement purposes. If head and tail are separated under permit,
the tail must have a minimum length of 6 inches. Minimum size
regulations are more feasible than with other fisheries because
harvesting techniques require each lobster to be handled indivi-
dually; therefore measurement is relatively simple. If a lobster is
undersized, it can be returned to the sea unharmed.
The 1965 act prohibited the catching of egg-bearing female
lobsters, and those found in traps are to be returned alive to the
ocean . Stripping eggs from them is also prohibited.
That same act required a special permit if the separation
of head and tail was to be done before landing the lobster. Some
biologists feel that separating head and tail at sea and returning
the head to the ocean drives away other lobsters. A permit for
such separation may be granted if the operation is so far from
land that it is not practical to keep the lobsters alive until landing
Historical Development. In 1929 the first size restriction
was enacted, the minimum being one pound . In 1953 the
minimum was redefined to be a lobster with a tail measuring 6
inches . The 1965 act redefined the minimum size by tail and
carapace measurement, with a minimum carapace measurement
of 3 inches and tail measurement of 51/ inches . Methods of
measurement were also given. Finally, a 1969 act allowed a 6
inch minimum on tails separated under special permit .
The fisheries considered to this point are those subject to
extension legislation. There are a number of other fisheries which
are regulated by less extensive provisions, and there are laws
which apply to all fisheries. In this section the restrictions on
fisheries that are individually mentioned in the statutes are
outlined; then the regulations of a non-specific nature are sum-
Commercial fishing for stone crab is regulated by season,
sex, size and equipment.18 Closed season is between May 15th and
October 15th; minimum size is a 23/, inch forearm (measured
by a straight line from the elbow to the tip of the lower immobile
finger); and no females may be caught.
A permit is required for stone crab fishing, with one permit
issued per boat. The permit number is to be permanently dis-
played on the traps used. Traps are to have an entrance of no
more than 4 inches wide and 6 inches long, and are to be marked
by a buoy.
A new section was added to the Saltwater Fisheries and Con-
servation Chapter of Florida Statutes in 1973 by Florida Laws
1973, Ch. 73-26. The new regulations require a permit from the
Department of Natural Resources. The traps must have a 2 inch
square opening near the bottom of one of the sides, and must be
attached to a buoy. The buoy, as well as the boat used to gather
the traps, must be color coded for identification from the air.
The gear must be marked with the permit number. These regula-
tions do not apply to an individual with fewer than five traps.
A closed season is imposed on taking shad from sunup No-
vember 15th until sundown March 15th.19 Each week the com-
mercial fishing period is closed for 72 consecutive hours, to be
determined by the Department. Restrictions are also placed on
net mesh size and use of nets.
s1Stone crab regulation is found in Fla. Stat. sees. 370.13, 370.132,
370.141 (1971), and Florida Laws 1973, Chapters 73-28.
'9Shad regulation is found in Fla. Stat. sec. 370.11 (1971).
Many of Florida's fisheries are controlled directly only by
size.20 The following is a list of minimum or maximum size mea-
surements specified by statute:
Bluefish of less length than 10 inches from tip of nose to rear
center edge of tail;
Pompano of less length than 9/2 inches from tip of nose
to rear center edge of tail;
Fluke or flounder of less than 11 inches from tip of nose to
rear center edge of tail;
Mackerel, redfish and salt water speckled trout or spotted
weakfish of less than 12 inches from tip of nose to rear
center edge of tail;
Snook of less length than 18 inches from tip of nose to rear
center edge of tail;
Striped bass and bonefish of less length than 15 inches from
tip of nose to rear center edge of tail, with exceptions for
cultured striped bass;
Black mullet of less length than 11 inches from tip of nose
to rear center edge of tail, except in waters located west of
the Aucilla River to the Alabama line where the limit is
9 inches, and from the Aucilla River to the Citrus-Hernando
County line where the limit is 10 inches.
A maximum length is established for permit fish, prohibiting
catching of permit fish of 20 inches or greater.
An extreme type of fisheries management that exists in
Florida is the complete exclusion of a fishery from commercial
exploitation. At least four kinds of fish cannot be caught and used
commercially but may be caught by sport fishermen. These in-
clude tarpon, closed to commercial use in 1937 ; sailfish,
closed in 1955 [70;] snook, closed in 1957 (71) ; and striped bass,
closed in 1963 . Some kinds of marine life are protected from
all commercial fishing interference, for example, porpoise and
Gear and Equipment
Several restrictions exist in Florida on the use of types of
equipment not related to any particular fishery. The most fre-
20These size limits are found in Fla. Stat. sec. 370.11 (1971), and
Florida Laws 1973, Chapters 73-10, 73-38 and 73-149.
quent relates to nets and their use. Other restrictions prohibit
the use of firearms or explosives to catch fish, and chemicals can
only be used by special permit. Spearfishing is restricted in many
The use or possession of a purse seine is prohibited except
for taking tuna or menhaden. Nets, seines, catches, wires, or other
devices cannot be placed so as to prevent the free passage of fish
in any river, creek, canal, pass, bayou, or other waterway. This
includes placing the device singularly, in rotation, one behind
another, or in any other way which hinders the free passage of
A different type of regulatory management is that provided
for by the Mariculture Bill of 1969 (73). This law, the first of
its kind in the United States, allows a portion of the ocean to be
set aside by a private producer to be used for growing fish for
commercial purposes (in 1971 six aquaculture permits were
issued in Florida).
The area of ocean to be set aside is reserved by a lease. Au-
thority to grant a lease such as this rests in the Board of Trus-
tees of the Internal Improvement Fund, provided that a lease
will not be granted if a majority of the county commission of
the county of the proposed lease object.
Lease application is made to the Board of Trustees and in-
cludes a description of the area and the use to which it will
be put. Public notice of the intended lease is given to allow for
The lease itself may provide for a fixed rental, or for a fixed
fee plus some royalty based on productivity, marketability and
value of the produce. A bond is required to insure performance
of the contract obligations, and the leaseholder must pay for the
cost of survey. The size of the lease is restricted to the area with-
in the capacity of the leaseholder to develop under the terms of
the contract. It is the duty of the leaseholder to mark the lease
boundaries as required by the Board of Trustees.
Steps are taken to prevent unnecessary interference -with
the right of the public to use Florida's waterways. Leases may be
granted only when not contrary to the public interest, when prop-
er notice to the public has been given, when riparian owners have
received specified notice, and when the terms of the lease pro-
vide for the use of the area for traditional purposes to the great-
est extent possible, for example, swimming, navigation, and
The place of mariculture in Florida's economy is not yet de-
terminable, but it is a new attempt to allow maximum private
management of a fishery with a minimum of interference with
the rights of other fishermen and the general public.
In the previous sections of this bulletin the administration,
historical development and the current status of the laws which
make up Florida's Regulatory Fisheries Management Programs
were discussed. Where appropriate and when data or research
were available, biological and economic considerations related to
the specific management programs were discussed. No formal
theoretical or empirical analysis of either the biological or eco-
nomic effects of specific regulations was attempted. Such an
analysis would require a rather complicated bioeconomic model
and a separate research undertaking for each specific manage-
ment program would be required. No attempt is made in this
bulletin to empirically estimate the effects of specific alternative
programs. However, in this section an extremely simplified bio-
economic model is presented. The model is presented for three
reasons: (1) to provide the reader with the framework which
he may use to gain a greater understanding of current manage-
ment programs, (2) to provide those interested in future man-
agement programs a tool for conceptually predicting effects of
proposed legislation, and (3) to suggest to researchers interest-
ed in fisheries management a theoretical framework for ana-
lyzing specific programs. Specifically the "effects" referred to
are size of fishery populations, quantities landed by fishermen,
prices of seafood products, etc. To achieve these goals and to
facilitate understanding the remainder of this section is divided
into four subsections. First, an extremely simple model of fishery
population dynamics is presented. A few basic economic princi-
ples are developed in the second subsection. In the third subsec-
tion the biological considerations are incorporated with the basic
economic principles to form what is generally referred to as a
bioeconomic model. Once this is accomplished management pro-
grams similar to those in Florida (such as gear restrictions)
will be analyzed conceptually with the bioeconomic model in the
Biological productions of a fishery without fishing is gen-
"This section draws heavily on materials presented in Bromley (1969).
erally presented in the following form:
Biomass = f (recruitment, growth, natural mortality).
This simply means that, without fishing, the total amount of a
fish resource (referred to as the biomass) is a function of, or de-
pends on, the recruitment of young, the rate of growth, and the
natural mortality through predators, disease, etc. At the same
time, the recruitment, growth, and natural mortality of the off-
spring are a function of the biomass and the environment.
The relation between the number of mature offspring and
the parent population may be derived from this basic biological
relationship. At very low population levels recruitment is low
because the number of spawners is small. As the number of the
parent population increases the level of recruitment increases.
After some population level is reached, recruitment levels de-
cline for reasons such as unhealthy fish stocks, severe competi-
tion for food, or an inadequate ecological niche. Thus, at some
intermediate population level the ability of spawners to recruit
progeny (offspring) into the standing population is at maxi-
mum. The other two factors, growth and natural mortality, pro-
duce similar relationships between mature progeny and the par-
ent population. At low population levels growth rates are relative-
ly high and natural mortality rates are relatively low, but beyond
some population level the growth rates decline and natural mor-
tality rates are relatively high.
The relationships between the size of parent population in
one time period and the number of mature progeny in the follow-
ing time period may be summarized as in Figure 2. The 45-de-
gree line, OA, represents the level of mature progeny necessary
to maintain the parent stock at its present level. That is, OA
traces out the number of mature offspring, measured on the
vertical axis, necessary to replace the parent population mea-
sured on the horizontal axis. The curved line, OM, represents the
actual number of mature progeny that will be produced by each
parent population level. For example, a mature progeny of M1 will
maintain a parent population of Pi, but notice that the parent
population PI will in fact produce M1, and thus the total fish pop-
ulation will increase by an amount equal to MIMI. Under normal
conditions without fishing, population increases will continue in
nature until the actual production of mature progeny just equals
that necessary to maintain a stable parent stock (this is illus-
trated for parent population, Pa, where the mature offspring line
crosses the replacement line, OA). Two additional points of in-
terest are at population levels Ps, where the total production of
rM ---- 1 I '
SM4 t b M
I I I
0 4 Parent population
PO PI P2 P3
Figure 2. Number of mature progeny as a function of parent population levels
mature progeny is a maximum, and at Pi, where the greatest
excess of mature progeny over that necessary for a stable popu-
lation is produced.
Thus far fishery population dynamics has been considered
without fishing by men. The equilibrium level of catch by fisher-
men is defined as that amount of landings which will leave the
parent population at its present level. In other words, the equilib-
rium catch is the difference between the level of mature progeny
and the replacement necessary to maintain the parent population
at given levels of parent stock. If fishing is introduced and is
successful while the parent stock is Ps, the parent stock will be
reduced since there is no net recruitment with parent stock Ps
(Figure 2). The reduction in the parent stock in the initial tile
periods results in an increase in the production of mature progeny
in following time periods (since at parent population levels small-
er than P. more fish are produced than are needed to replace
their parents). Increased fishing effort may continue to reduce
the parent stock until parent stock P1 is reached. Parent stock
P1 will produce the largest marketable surplus (equilibrium
catch) which is represented as M,-MI on the vertical axis in Fig-
ure 2. Notice that the maximum marketable surplus is not at the
parent population level which produces the maximum mature
progeny. If in any time period less than the equilibrium catch
is taken, the parent population will increase (move towards P.)
/ I I Parent
0 PO population
PO PI P2 P3
Figure 3. Equilibrium catch as a function of parent population
and the equilibrium catch, or the marketable surplus, in the fol-
lowing time period will be reduced. If more than the equilibrium
catch is taken, the parent population will decrease (move to-
wards Po) and again the equilibrium in following periods will be
reduced. If the level of fishing is that which exactly takes the
excess over the needed replacement each season, a parent popula-
tion of size P, will be maintained and the sustainable yield will
The equilibrium catch shown as the area between the mature
progeny curve, OM, and the replacement line, OA, in Figure 2
may be expressed as in Figure 3. Points Po, P1, P2 and Pa cor-
respond with the same population levels in Figure 2. The maxi-
mum sustained yield, EQ, is produced from population P1, which
corresponds to P1 in Figure 2. Notice that the same equilibrium
catch may be taken at different levels of parent population (ex-
cept at the maximum sustained yield). For example, equilibrium
catch, EQ,, may be taken with either parent population Po or P'.
This concept will be quite important in formulating the following
The optimum amount of fishing in terms of the equilibrium
catch and the effects on the maximum sustained yield or over-or
under-fishing in any one time period has been discussed thus far
only in terms of biological considerations. For several reasons
this is not sufficient for fisheries management programs. The.
exact amount of mature offspring or the size of the parent popu-
lation is seldom, if ever, known by members of the fishing in-
dustry nor is its effect on current and future fish populations.
Furthermore, actions of independent, relatively small, fishermen
will not noticeably affect the dynamics of fishery populations;
and therefore, the need for independent action is often thought
unwarranted by individual fishermen. More importantly, fish-
ermen consider their individual costs and product prices in de-
termining fishing effort. Fishermen's costs and biological factors
are reflected in industry supply functions; these, together with
consumer demand, determine market prices and the quantities
actually landed. Needless to say, the quantities do not necessari-
ly correspond to those suggested by the biological models as opti-
mum in any one year. The following discussion relates the basic
supply and demand model with the biological model.
Industry supply functions represent the quantities that fish-
ermen offer on the market at various market prices. These sup-
ply functions are presented in Figure 4. For each fish population
and type of production technology there is a different supply
function. The supply functions have positive slopes (more offered
for sale only at higher prices) due to the assumption of negative
production interdependencies in fisheries. That is, for any given
fish population and state of technology, increased output can
Figure 4. Industry supply functions
only be brought about with increased per unit cost, because as
output expands, each additional unit of fishing effort will pro-
duce less catch and therefore per unit costs increase.22
The cost of fishing to a firm is a function of the levels of
fish stock. A given amount of fishing effort (man hours, gear,
etc.) applied to relatively large populations will contract more
fish than when applied to smaller populations, and therefore,
we can expect cost of production to be inversely related to the
size of fish populations. Since the cost of production of all firms
will be lower with larger populations, the industry supply will
be greater (more offered at any price) with larger populations.
Smaller populations imply per unit cost will be higher, and con-
sequently the industry supply curve will shift upward as popu-
lation levels are decreased (indicating less offered for sale at
any price). For example, supply curves So, S, and S2 represent
industry supply curves in Figure 4 for population sizes Po, PI
and Ps, respectively, in Figure 2. At the low population level
Po, S& is the appropriate supply curve, while at larger population
levels supply curves Si and S& are appropriate. As the size of the
fish population increases, the supply increases; or as the fish
population decreases, the supply decreases.
The second factor shifting industry supply functions is tech-
nology. Better technology-for example, more efficient gear,
such as electric reels-will increase supply (shift curve down-
ward). Conversely, a restriction on technology, such as restric-
tions on gear to prevent over-fishing, will decrease supply (causes
less to be offered at any price, i.e., upward shift in supply func-
The final economic consideration is the demand function. It
is assumed that, as with other products, the quantity of seafood
products demanded is inversely related to prices of seafood pro-
ducts. That is, at relatively high prices small quantities are pur-
chased and as the price is lowered larger quantities are purchased.
This relationship is represented by Do in the lower half of Figure
In Figure 5 the biological and economic (supply and demand)
"Increased production is assumed to be brought about from output ex-
pansion of existing homogeneous fishing firms andlor entry of homogene-
ous firms. Without the assumption of negative interdependence, the indus-
try supply functions would be horizontal with no interdependency and nega-
tively sloping with positive interdependence, assuming constant input prices
and free entry into the fishery.
P2 /--- 1---
PI S 2
q1 q3 q2 Quantity landed
Figure 5. Simplified bioeconomic model of a fishery
considerations are brought together into what is generally re-
ferred to as a bioeconomic model. To illustrate the interrelation-
ship between economic factors and biological factors in explain-
ing the operations of a fishery, let us assume several hypothetical
Assume that in the initial time period the parent population
is P2 and the supply function representing this fish stock is 82. If
the market demand is represented by Do, then fishermen will
market quantity q, at a price of p2. There is over-fishing in this
time period, because the equilibrium catch with population P2 is
P2a, while fishermen landed ab in excess of this amount. Conse-
quently, the parent population in time period two will be P1, which
is ab less than P2 (P2-P1=ab), and the corresponding supply
function will be S, in the second time period. Given demand Do
and supply S1, fishermen will market q, at a price of pi. In this
time period under-fishing takes place; the equilibrium catch is
Pd, but only Pic (Pc=qi) is landed; therefore, in time period
three the parent population is increased to Ps and supply is in-
creased to S3. In this time period an equilibrium is reached both
in the biological model and the economic model, and there is no
inducement for change as long as there are no natural or man-
induced changes in the biological or economic parameters.
This state of equilibrium is seldom, if ever, achieved for any
period of time. Natural events such as fish kills from pollution
or the Red Tide will reduce the equilibrium catch for all popula-
tions shown in the biological model. If prior to the fish kill the
system was in equilibrium, the result is over-fishing in the pres-
ent time period, given the present demand and supply parameters.
The over-fishing in the present period causes a series of adjust-
ments, similar to those discussed above, in the following time
periods until a new equilibrium is reached.
Man induced changes in biological and economic parameters
disrupt the equilibrium in the bioeconomic model. Two major
man-induced changes are (1) supply changes brought about by
technology and (2) changes in demand brought about mainly by
increases in income and population. Consider first an increase
in supply brought about by some new technological development
in fishing gear. Assume that prior to the introduction of the
new, more efficient gear, the fishery industry was in a bioecono-
mic equilibrium with parent population P3 (Figure 5) and an-
nual landings of -P3e (or q3). The introduction of the new more
efficient gear will lower cost of production and, therefore, in-
crease the supply function (assume to S2). The increase in supply,
given Do, would call for a quantity q2 to be put on the market.
With parent population P,, over-fishing of an amount ef would oc-
cur in the initial time period. Thus, in the following time period
the parent population would be reduced and the supply would
shift back to lower levels. A series of adjustments towards a bio-
economic equilibrium would then take place similar to those dis-
cussed above. However, if technology again improved in the sec-
ond time period, ti e supply reduction brought about by the de-
crease in parent population could be offset by the supply increase
brought about by the new technology. In this case there would
be over-fishing again in the second time period. If technological
improvements continue, over-fishing could continue to occur until
the parent population was driven down to extremely low levels.
This continuous increase in technology which is harmful to the
fishery may cause restrictions to be placed on the fishermen to
prevent the fishery from being over-fished.
Illustrations of the effects of demand changes on fisheries
are presented in Figure 6. Assume that initially there is a bio-
economic equilibrium; the parent population is P1 and the exis-
ting demand and supply functions are represented by D1 and
S1, respectively. The equilibrium catch Pla is exactly equal to the
quantity being put on the market, q,. If demand increases from
either an increase in income, prices of other meat substitutes or
population, the demand function will shift to the right, for exam-
P| a_ b
I I I
I Equilibrium catch
Figure 6. Effects of demand shifts on the bioeconomic system
pie to D2. With the new higher level of demand fishermen will
respond to the higher prices which accompany an increase in de-
mand by increasing the quantity supplied to q2. The increased
fishing effort will result in over-fishing, given parent population
P1. Consequently, the parent population in the following time
period will be reduced to P2 (P1-P2=ab), and supply will be re-
duced to 82. In this very simple example a new equilibrium is
reached with only one natural adjustment. If, however, demand
had continued to increase, the reduction in supply could have been
offset and over-fishing could have again taken place in the follow-
ing time period. For example, if demand in the second time period
had expanded to Da, over-fishing would have occurred even though
the natural adjustment of decreasing supply to 82 had taken
place (due to the original increase in demand from D1 to D2. The
amount of over-fishing would be measured by cd. If there are no
more man-induced shifts in demand or supply, the natural ad-
justment towards a bioeconomic equilibrium will take place. As
in the case of man-induced supply shifts, continued increases in
demand could drive the parent poptdation to extremely low levels.
Analysis of Selected Management Programs
In addition to the natural changes in the marine environ-
ment and the changes induced by man through supply and de-
mand variables, the level of fishing effort and the biological po-
tential are affected by fisheries management programs instituted
through public policy. The alternative types of programs which
can and are instituted are numerous. Presently, general types of
programs which encompass those in effect in Florida will be con-
sidered; and the effects of such programs on prices and fishery
production (biological and commercial) will be analyzed with the
use of the bioeconomic model discussed above.
The first general group Of programs are those which have
initial or first-round effects on the biological component of the
system.23 This category includes programs such as the closed sea-
sons and areas for fishing, size and sex regulations, and private
cultivation programs we discussed in previous sections of this
bulletin. These programs affect the yield potential of the fishery.
Potential effects of biological controls in a fishery management
program may be analyzed by considering the effects of the con-
23From the above discussion it should be obvious that any factor which
affects the biological parameters has indirect effects on the economic com-
ponents of the system. In this section direct or first-round effects are con-
sidered to be those directly affected by the public policy.
Figure 7. Effects of biological controls on mature progeny
trols on the level of mature progeny for given population levels.
Recall from Figure 2 that the level of mature progeny for any
given population was defined to be some level less than the total
number of offspring because of natural mortality rates. If off-
spring are taken by fishermen before they reach maturity, the
level of mature progeny will be lower than the level when only
natural mortality rates are considered. In effect this reduces the
equilibrium level of catch (defined in terms of mature off-
spring)24 as is shown in Figure 7. Closed seasons and areas for
fishing that protect the immature offspring increase the equilib-
rium catch by increasing the level of mature offspring for each
level of parent population. For example, in Figure 7 the level of
mature offspring is represented by OM without fishing for the
immature and OM" when the immature are harvested. Closed
seasons and areas also protect the breeding stock and thus allow
the number of mature offspring to be greater for given popula-
tion levels, such as that represented by OM' in Figure 7. Net
mesh size restrictions which allow the immature to escape also
have similar effects.
"The number of fish landed without affecting future population levels
may not be different if immature fish are landed, but the total volume
(pounds) probably will be affected.
_ -M I
Another biological control often provided for through public
policy, which produces similar results, is cultivation programs.
These programs may be of a private or public nature. In case of
private cultivation programs, private citizens are given property
rights which encourage the practice of cultivation similar to that
in farming, for example, the building of oyster .reefs on private
leases. In other cases, the State agency responsible for fishery
management undertakes the cultural practices such as the spread-
ing of oyster shells on public reefs. Programs such as these aug-
ment the environment, thus providing for a larger fish popula-
Thus far we have briefly discussed the direct effect of bio-
logically oriented fishery management programs. The total poten-
tial effects include economic responses which may be simulated
in the bioeconomic model of the fishery system. Assume that ini-
tially the fishery is in a bio-economic equilibrium as is illustrated
in Figure 8; the equilibrium catch function is OPo, P1 is the
parent population, Pia is the maximum sustained yield for popu-
lation P1, and the market price is pi. After the biological pro-
grams are put into effect the equilibrium catch function becomes
OP'0. Initially there will be under-fishing of an amount ab, given
demand D and supply S,. Consequently, the parent population in
the succeeding time period will be P2 (ab=P2-P1), and the new
supply function will be S2. Given demand D the new market price
will be p2 and the quantity sold will be q2. Note that the quantity
consumed will be greater and the market price will be less as a
result of the biological fisheries management program. However,
note also that in this illustration there is over-fishing of an
amount cd, which will cause the parent population to decrease in
the following time period, which will cause the supply to decrease
(move back towards Si). Adjustments will take place until a new
equilibrium is reached. If no other changes take place in the
system, the end result will be a price somewhere between pi and
p, and the quantity marketed between q, and q2. That is, the final
result will be greater consumption at lower per unit prices as a
result of the program.
The second type of fisheries management programs are those
that directly affect the supply function through effects on the
fisherman's production and cost functions. The main type of regu-
lation in this area is gear restriction. Gear restrictions are often
imposed on fishermen, which reduces their efficiency.25 These re-
"Efficiency as used here is a short-run concept. A restriction that
decreases efficiency at present may increase efficiency in the long run by
maintaining a more optimum parent population for breeding purposes.
PI ---ga b
1I Equilibrium catch
Dollars I I I
Figure 8. Bioeconomic effects of biological fisheries management programs
strictions reduce the supply functions (shift upward toward the
right), causing less to be placed on the market and sold for higher
per unit prices. Such restrictions are often employed to reduce
fishing effort in certain fisheries. Government and private re-
search which increases the efficiency of gear has the opposite ef-
fect. As in all previous programs discussed above there are sec-
ondary effects in the system after the original policies are en-
SEAFOOD PROCESSING AND MARKETING SYSTEM
After the catch is made, and the products landed, the total
fisheries management picture is not complete without consider-
ing the management practices of processors, wholesalers, and re-
tailers. The Department of Natural Resources has authority to
regulate these steps, and issues wholesale and retail licenses for
seafood dealers.26 It also regulates processing up to de-heading
and eviscerating, with subsequent processing regulated by the
Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
There is a unique restriction on the transportation of oysters
out of Florida for processing.27 By statute, oysters that are un-
shucked and in the shell cannot be transported out of state for pro-
cessing or packing except for use in the half-shell trade. After
shucking, the meats can be shipped out for further processing
and for canning or processing and for canning or packing.
The final fisheries management program in the total manage-
ment program from producer to consumer involves licensing of
retail seafood dealers. Retail seafood dealers, except those who
sell only salted, cured, canned, or smoked seafood, are required to
possess a license. Resident retail seafood dealers are required to
pay an annual license tax of $10, non-resident seafood dealers an
annual license tax of $25 for each place of business, and alien re-
tail seafood dealers an annual tenure tax of $50 for each place
Wholesale seafood dealers in the State of Florida are licensed
by the State. A wholesale seafood dealer is described as any per-
son, firm or corporation which sells saltwater fish or other salt-
water products, excluding novelty shells or sponges, to any per-
son, firm, or corporation except the consumer. A resident whole-
sale seafood dealer is required to pay an annual license fee of
$100, a non-resident dealer is required to pay an annual tax of
$150, and an alien wholesale seafood dealer is required to pay an
annual license tax of $500.
A person, firm, or corporation that is the holder of a license
may have more than one establishment under the same license
with certain restrictions. All products passing through the subor-
dinate establishment must have the licensed dealer's establish-
ment as their immediate destination. Otherwise, the subordinate
establishment must also have a wholesale seafood dealer's license.
Whenever inter-county transportation becomes involved, the
points of origin and points of destination must both be licensed.
"Seafood dealer regulations are found in Fla. Stat. sec. 370.07 (1971).
"This provision is in Fla. Stat. sec. 370.03(1) (1971).
In operating the wholesale seafood dealer's business, the li-
censed dealer must use a wholesale permit stamp issued to the
dealer. An exception to this occurs where the saltwater products
have been produced outside of Florida. Provisions are made for
the possession by the transporter of seafood products of invoices,
bills of lading or other similar documents having a special permit
Wholesale seafood dealers are required to make and preserve
a record of names and addresses from whom or to whom the sea-
food or other products of the saltwaters of the State were pur-
chased or sold; the quantity of products purchased or sold to each
vendor or purchaser; and the date of each such transaction. The
record is open to inspection by enforcement officials at all times.
A monthly report is to be made covering such sales or products of
the saltwaters of the State. There are certain additional record-
keeping requirements in the cases of saltwater products which
have a closed season.
There are several possible causes for revocation of the license.
An example is that of the violation of the laws and regulations
designed for the conservation of seafood products of the waters
of Florida. Failure or refusal to keep the records required may
also be cause for revocation. After revocation of the permit, an-
other permit will not be issued for a period of three years except
on special order of the Department.
A section of the law originating in 1965 makes specific pro-
visions for the adoption of rules, regulations, and a sanitary code
relating to the catching, handling, processing, packaging, pre-
serving, canning, smoking, and storing of saltwater products for
sale or consumption as human food. The Department of Natural
Resources has set forth such regulations in the "Seafood Quality
Code" of 1968.
The Seafood Quality Control Code sets out sanitary stan-
dards to be followed in catching, handling, packaging, preserv-
ing and storing saltwater products for sale or consumption as
human food. The code covers the primary and secondary seafood
producers of Florida.
The "Primary Producer" is a person, firm or corporation that
"harvests, or physically alters products only by de-heading, skin-
ning, scaling, eviscerating or removing the cephalothorax" in its
operations. The "Secondary Producer" is a person, firm or cor-
poration that receives products from a primary producer and al-
ters it by de-heading, skinning, scaling, eviscerating or removing
Among other definitions, the code contains definitions of
"potentially hazardous food," "wholesome," "adulterated," "mis-
branded," "safe temperatures," and "sanitize" to guide the pro-
ducer in meeting the standards of the code. The code regulates
the primary and secondary producers in a wide variety of specific
items concerned with production and facilities, from receipt of
seafoods to their disposition.
Persons handling the seafood must meet specified health
standards, primarily in connection with the transmission of com-
municable diseases. Equipment and utensil requirements include
proper refrigeration and refrigerated storage facilities, available
and convenient facilities with running water and waste disposal
units or containers, cleaning facilities, and types of equipment
that can be adequately cleaned. Surfaces of such equipment must
be kept in a clean condition.
Sanitary facilities and controls include adequate water sup-
ply of specified quality, sewage disposal, plumbing, toilet facili-
ties, hand-washing facilities, and waste removal. Floors of pri-
mary and secondary producing plants must be in good repair, and
be constructed with drains and surfaces that provide a cleanable
Seafood may be sampled or examined to determine its con-
dition, and if found unsafe for public consumption it can be con-
demned or destroyed by conservation officers from the Depart-
ment of Natural Resources. Enforcement practices extend to the
examination of personnel if disease transmission is suspected by
Shellfish production is specifically mentioned in the code. In-
cluded are requirements for washing and a rather detailed set of
records of shellfish handled.
The code requirements extend to transportation of seafoods
by primary and secondary producers, and provides for contain-
ers that protect the seafood and keep the temperature within pro-
per ranges. Boats used for harvesting or transporting seafood
are required to have facilities to clean, protect, and cool seafood,
and must be constructed so as to be easy to keep in a sanitary
condition. These boats are subject to inspection by officers of the
Department of Natural Resources.
SUMMARY OF FISHERY MANAGEMENT PROGRAMS
The majority of Florida's fisheries management legislation
concerns three fisheries: shrimp, lobsters, and oysters. The man-
agement programs vary depending on the specific purposes of
the program and the biological characteristics of the species reg-
ulated. The overall goal of the legislation providing for Florida's
fisheries management programs is to encourage the maximum
sustainable yield from the State's fishery resources.
Shrimp. Management of Florida's most economically impor-
tant fishery, shrimp, has existed for over 50 years. A wide variety
of methods have been used in this effort. Some methods have been
discarded and others are relatively new.
To facilitate regulation, permits of several kinds are re-
quired of shrimp fishermen. A landing permit is required for
landing shrimp in Florida, regardless of where caught. Permits
are also required of those shrimping in Florida waters. Two sep-
arate permits correspond to the two different kinds of shrimp
fishing; a live bait production permit is required for those catch-
ing shrimp for live bait purposes, and a non-bait commercial
fishing permit is required to fish for shrimp for purposes of
Several methods of protecting immature shrimp have been
used, including closed season and size limits. However, a more
flexible system is now used in Florida, that of closed areas. Since
shrimp have life cycles that cause them to live in different areas
at different stages of their life, it is possible to close an area
when the majority of shrimp in that area are of a small size. In
Florida, several areas are permanently closed to non-bait shrimp
fishing, and other areas are opened or closed depending on the
maturity of shrimp in each area, determined by State sampling
practices. Thus the shrimp resources of Florida can be protected
while at the same time permitting full use of the fishery resour-
Oyster. Because of the oyster's growth and life patterns, a
unique type of regulation exists in addition to more widely used
methods. The traditional regulations include restrictions on the
kind of gear that can be used to gather oysters. On public beds
harvesting is restricted to use of hand tongs in most cases. A
minimum size of 3 inches is placed on harvested oysters, and a
closed season prohibits oyster harvest from public beds between
June 1st and September 1st.
Because oysters are stationary in their adult stage, a means
of management is possible that is not feasible in other fisheries.
Beginning in 1881, with subsequent modifications, a system of
leasing is allowed under which a portion of the ocean floor is
leased from the State. On this leased area the leaseholder can
plan his operations to achieve the greatest utilization of the re-
source, and he is free to use gear otherwise restricted, and he
may harvest at all times of the year.
Lobster. A permit is required for lobster fishing in Florida,
and a closed season prohibits any lobster fishing from March 31st
to August 1st. Gear specifications limit the kind of trap that can
be used and require a numbering and marking system for traps
and boats to facilitate enforcement of fishing laws. A minimum
size limit is in effect. A special permit is required if the lobster
fishing operation involves separation of head and tail of the lob-
ster before landing.
Other Fisheries. In addition to the fairly extensive regula-
tory systems for shrimp, oyster, and lobster, other fisheries are
also managed by the State. This is done by closed season, size
regulation, and gear specifications, and involves stone crab, shad,
bluefish, pompano, fluke or flounder, mackerel, redfish, snook,
striped bass, and mullet. Some fish cannot be caught for com-
mercial purposes, including tarpon, sailfish, snook, and striped
bass. There are various restrictions on gear, the most important
being those regulating net use.
Seafood Processing and Marketing. The total fisheries man-
agement program is not complete without considering the man-
agement practices of the processors, wholesalers, and retailers.
The Department of Natural Resources has authority to regulate
these steps and issues wholesale and retail licenses for seafood
dealers. It also regulates processing up to de-heading and evis-
cerating, with subsequent processing regulated by the Depart-
ment of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Books, Reports, and Articles
Bromley, Daniel W. "Economic Efficiency in Common Property Natural
Resources Use: A Case Study of the Ocean Fishery," U.S. Bureau
of Commercial Fisheries, U.S. Department of the Interior, Work-
ing Paper No. 28, Washington, D.C., July 1969.
Dawson, C. E., Jr., and C. P. Idyll. Investigations of the Florida Spiny
Lobster, Panulirus Argus (Latreille), Florida State Board of Con-
servation, Technical Series No. 2, University of Miami, Marine
Laboratory, Miami, Florida, 1951.
De Sylva, Donald P. The Live Bait Shrimp Fishery of the Northeast Coast
of Florida, Florida State Board of Conservation, Technical Series
No. 11, University of Miami Marine Laboratory, Coral Gables,
Florida Board of Conservation. Laws (1967).
Florida Department of Natural Resources. Summary of Florida Commer-
cial Marine Landings, Tallahassee, Florida, Annual Issues.
Idyll, Clarence. The Commercial Shrimp Industry of Florida, Florida State
Board of Conservation, Educational Series No. 6, University of
Miami, Marine Laboratory, Coral Gables, Florida, 1950.
Ingle, R. M., et al. On the Possible Caribbean Origin of Florida's Spiny
Lobster Populations, Florida State Board of Conservation, Techni-
cal Series No. 40, Marine Laboratory, St. Petersburg, Florida, 1963.
Ingle, Robert M., and F. G. Walton Smith. Oyster Culture in Florida, Flori-
da State Board of Conservation, University of Miami, Marine Lab-
oratory, Coral Gables, Florida, 1949.
Iverson, E. S., and A. C. Jones. Growth and Migration of the Tortugas
Pink Shrimp Penaeus Duorarum, and Changes in the Catch per Unit
of Effort of the Fishery. Florida State Board of Conservation,
Technical Series No. 34, University of Miami, Marine Laboratory,
Miami, Florida, 1961.
Inverson, E. S., and C. P. Idyll. The Tortugas Shrimp Fishery: The Fishing
Fleet and Its Method of Operation, Florida State Board of Con-
servation, Technical Series No. 29, University of Miami, Marine
Laboratory, Miami, Florida, 1959.
Joyce, E. A., Jr., and Bonnie Eldred. The Florida Shrimping Industry, Flori-
da State Board of Conservation Marine Laboratory, Education
Series No. 15, St. Petersburg, Florida, 1966.
Loosanoff, Victor L. The American or Eastern Oyster, U.S. Bureau of
Commercial Fisheries, U.S. Department of the Interior, Circular
No. 205, Washington, D.C., 1965.
Robinson, R. K., and D. E. Dimitriou. The Status of the Florida Spiny
Lobster Fishery, 1962-63, Florida State Board of Conservation,
Technical Series No. 42, University of Miami, Marine Laboratory,
Miami, Florida, 1963.
Scott, Marshall S. Florida's Seaward Boundaries-A Dilemma, Sea Grant
Institutional Program, Sea Grant Technical Bulletin No. 20, In-
formation Series, University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida, 1972.
Sweat, D. E. Growth and Tagging Studies on Panulirus Argus (Latreille)
in the Florida Keys, Florida State Board of Conservation Marine
Research Laboratory, Technical Series No. 57, St. Petersburg,
Woodburn, Kenneth D., et al. The Live Bait Shrimp Industry of the West
Coast of Florida, Florida State Board of Conservation Marine Re-
search Laboratory, Technical Series No. 21, St. Petersburg, Flori-
1. 1965 O.A.G. 065-118.
2. 1971 O.A.G. 071-337.
3. U. S. v. La., etc., 363 U. S. 1, 80 S.Ct. 961, 4 L.Ed. 2d 1025 (1960).
4. Mounier v. State, 178 So. 2d 714 (Fla. 1965), Burns v. Rozen, 201 So.
2d 629 (1st D.C.A. Fla. 1967), Bateman v. State, 238 So. 2d 621 (Fla.
5. Felton v. Hodges, 374 F.2d 337 (5th C.C.A. 1967), cert. denied 389 U. S.
971, 88 S.Ct. 467 (1967).
6. Fla. Stat. sec. 370.02 (2) (a) (1971).
7. Fla. Stat. sec. 370.021 (1971).
8. Fla. Laws 1953, Ch. 28145.
9. Fla. Laws 1921, Ch. 8590.
10. Fla. Laws 1929, Ch. 13799.
11. Fla. Laws 1939, Ch. 19488.
12. Fla. Laws 1945, Ch. 22786.
13. Fla. Laws 1953, Ch. 28145.
14. Fla. Laws 1957, Ch. 57-358.
15. Fla. Laws 1957, Ch. 57-358; and Fla. Laws 1965, Ch. 65-343.
16. Fla. Laws 1969, Ch. 69-399.
17. Fla. Laws 1935, Ch. 17255.
18. Fla. Laws 1945, Ch. 22786.
19. Fla. Laws 1947, Ch. 24218.
20. Fla. Laws 1965, Ch. 65-343.
21. Kirk v. Thompson, 221 So.2d 168 (1st D.C.A. Fla. 1969).
22. Fla. Laws 1967, Ch. 67-608.
23. Fla. Laws 1921, Ch. 8588.
24. Fla. Laws 1929, Ch. 13800.
25. Fla. Laws 1935, Ch. 17256.
26. Fla. Laws 1945, Ch. 22786.
27. Fla. Laws 1951, Ch. 26991.
28. Fla. Laws 1961, Ch. 61-525.
29. Fla. Laws 1963, Ch. 63-339.
30. Fla. Laws 1953, Ch. 28145.
31. Fla. Laws 1957, Ch. 57-358.
32. Fla. Laws 1961, Ch. 61-470.
33. State v. Potter, 224 So.2d 291 (Fla. 1969), Bateman v. State, 238 So.2d
621 (Fla. 1970).
34. Fla. Laws 1967, Ch. 67-608.
35. Fla. Laws 1970, Ch. 70-163.
36. Fla. Laws 1959, Ch. 59-343.
37. Fla. Laws 1963, Ch. 63-120.
38. Fla. Laws 1913, Ch. 6532.
39. Fla. Laws 1893, Ch. 4214.
40. Fla. Laws 1913, Ch. 6532.
Legal Citations (continued)
41. Fla. Laws 1923, Ch. 9338.
42. Fla. Laws 1961, Ch. 61-99.
43. Fla. Laws 1972, Ch. 72-236.
44. Fla. Laws 1893, Ch. 4214.
45. Fla. Laws 1899, Ch. 4795.
46. Fla. Laws 1967, Ch. 67-234.
47. Fla. Laws 1903, Ch. 5242.
48. Fla. Laws 1913, Ch. 1532.
49. Fla. Laws 1967, Ch. 67-234.
50. Fla. Laws 1915, Ch. 6822.
51. Fla. Laws 1913, Ch. 6532.
52. Fla. Laws 1921, Ch. 8588.
53. Fla. Laws 1913, Ch. 6532.
54. Fla. Laws 1921, Ch. 8588.
55. Fla. Laws 1923, Ch. 9338.
56. Fla. Laws 1959, Ch. 59-346.
57. Fla. Laws 1965, Ch. 65-53.
58. Fla. Laws 1919, Ch. 7909.
59. Fla. Laws 1921, Ch. 8591.
60. Fla. Laws 1929, Ch. 13618.
61. Fla. Laws 1953, Ch. 28145.
62. Fla. Laws 1955, Ch. 29896.
63. Fla. Laws 1965, Ch. 65-53.
64. Fla. Laws 1965, Ch. 65-53.
65. Fla. Laws 1929, Ch. 13618.
66. Fla. Laws 1953, Ch. 28145.
67. Fla. Laws 1965, Ch. 65-53, Fla. Laws 1965, Ch. 65-251.
68. Fla. Laws 1969, Ch. 69-228.
69. Fla. Laws 1937, Ch. 17915.
70. Fla. Laws 1955, Ch. 29877.
71. Fla. Laws 1957, Ch. 57-275.
72. Fla. Laws 1963, Ch. 63-84.
73. Fla. Laws 1969, Ch. 69-49, Codified in Fla. Stat. sees. 253.16 to 253.75
74. Fla. Laws 1881, Ch. 3293, in McClellan's Digest, 1822-1881.
75. Fla. Laws 1887, Ch. 3754.
76. Fla. Laws 1887, Ch. 3754.
77. Fla. Laws 1913, Ch. 6532.
78. Fla. Laws 1953, Ch. 28145.
79. Fla. Laws 1957, Ch. 57-256.
80. Fla. Laws 1963, Ch. 63-512.
81. Fla. Laws 1965, Ch. 65-140.
82. Fla. Laws 1971, Ch. 71-244.
83. Fla. Laws 1971, Ch. 71-244.
84. Fla. Laws 1971, Ch. 71-244.
85. Fla. Laws 1971, Ch. 71-244, Fla. Laws 1971, Ch. 71-246.
SPECIAL MANAGEMENT PROGRAMS
There is a type of legislation in Florida that does not apply
equally throughout the state. These special laws apply only to
the county or counties specified in the law itself. Laws of this
kind that apply to saltwater fishing are numerous and are not
included in the codified statutes, though they are important for
fishermen in every coastal county.
To give some notice of the regulations that exist in the vari-
ous counties, this table indicates the types of regulations that
apply in the coastal counties through special legislation. A com-
plete collection of these laws is combined in the Department of
Natural Resources booklets on Florida saltwater fisheries laws.
Appendix Table 1. Special fisheries management programs for specified counties by type of regulation and species
CO. o' .N~SEr
E CL E3
Gi r. 0 C =
'.C M' Xog CL Eo 4 .5
E C5 Z .0 Zo IE. 0 2 a M(
X X X
X X X
X X X
Appendix Table 1. Continued
ot E a s o
Lafayette X X
Ley X X X X X
County ZE 00 S0 05 m S d 0 0 I
Franklin X X X X X X X
g Gulf X X X X X X
Hernando X X X
Hillsborough X X
Indian River X X X X
Lafayette X X
Lee X X X
Levy X X X X X
Manatee X X X X
Martin X X X X X
Appendix Table 1. Continued
r- 04, w:
I 0 Q r- E&.
E O wI w 'r *A L
02 A) 0) .L
zE (50 EE o!wa
OU *a)0 .0
-I 0 I- flr o eo
X X X X
Appendix Table 1. Continued
I W >i q 0
O.F (n *G 0
23 c )
EU 0 ~ 0 In i: Jc m.
cc to- 4) U 0
E Ou-m, o 0 'A4-,
W= E- 0. ( a E a r- m 0
z ~ Ee d;u '6o 2 Sa. m Z-i 0 2 L1- cn
X X X
DEVELOPMENT OF PROPERTY RIGHTS FOR OYSTER CULTURE
The first laws in Florida dealing specifically with oysters
were enacted in 1881 (74). This set of laws established the prin-
ciple of reserving rights to develop oyster-producing seabeds to
individuals, a principle which has remained in effect for over 90
years, though in differing forms. The original form of reserva-
tion was through a grant, a transfer of actual ownership to the
ocean floor. The later and current forms of reservation are
through a leasing system, the right to use the ocean floor but not
Under the 1881 act the person desiring to plant oysters in
a particular locality applied to the county commissioners of the
county in which the desired bed was located, stating his determi-
nation to plant oysters and describing the territory as well as
possible. The commissioners could then grant exclusive rights to
that locality, with such boundaries as the commission deemed
The 1881 law placed several restrictions on the type of locali-
ty that could be included in the grant. When the desired bed was
in front of privately owned fronting property, the permission of
the landowner was required before a grant could be given. In
case the fronting land was not owned and occupied at the time of
the grant, the period of the grant could not extend beyond the date
of purchase or entry and occupancy of the fronting property.
When the fronting land was either publicly owned or unoccu-
pied, the bed was not to extend for more than one-eighth of a mile
along the bank or shore. A final restriction prohibited the inclu-
sion of existing natural or maternal oyster beds in the grant, re-
serving their use to the citizens of the state; this restriction
carries over today.
Several obligations rested on the holder of a grant, though
no fee for the grant was specified in the act. The first duty was
to mark the boundaries of the bed in a manner similar to present
regulations. Marking was to be done using stakes or buoys, as
prescribed by the county commissioners, at intervals of not more
than 50 yards. The markers were not to obstruct nor interfere
with navigation of the waters. The stakes or buoys were to be
kept in good order and repair, with the provision that no pro-
tection of the beds would be granted to the holder if the markers
were not properly maintained.
A second obligation was that of developing the bed. When a
grant was given, the person obtaining the grant was required to
plant oysters on it within one year, or else the grant was forfeited.
The holder of the grant received protection for his beds. Any-
one interfering with the markers of the bed was guilty of a mis-
demeanor, and anyone interfering with, catching, or removing
oysters from a granted bed was guilty of larceny.
In 1887, six years after the initial law providing for oyster
grants was enacted, two changes were made, one dealing with
the rights of the fronting property owners and the other with
the basic nature of the grant (75).
It can be imagined that confusion would result from the ter-
minology of the provision of the original law on rights of frontal
property owners. The act of 1887 specifically stated that the grant
could not give exclusive right to plant oysters on the submerged
lands of another without the consent of the owner. On the other
hand, all persons were to have the right to plant oysters in bays
and harbors subject to the restriction that the fronting (riparian)
owner was not to be disturbed in the use of the land a "reason-
able distance" out from medium tide for the purposes of erecting
wharves, warehouses, or other permanent improvements.
The 1881 act did not say what the person receiving the grant
could do with it except, of course, plant oysters on it. The 1887
act gave him the right to sell, lease, dispose of, or transfer the
grant, with such transfers being similar to conveyances of land
(76). In addition, the rights of the grant were to be inheritable
according to the rules of descent as prescribed by law.
A major piece of oyster legislation, in which the basic nature
of the grant was changed, was passed in 1913 (77). In fact, the
practice of granting was stopped entirely. The reason for the
change in this practice was indicated by the declaration in the
act that all ocean bottom within the territory of Florida was and
would remain the property of the State, the ownership including
all naturally growing oysters. The act prohibited any future
grant, sale, or conveyance of the bottom lands, permitting the use
of this land only through a lease agreement. Protection of prop-
erty rights already granted was provided, with all grants issued
prior to June 1, 1913, being confirmed, with two exceptions. One
exception was the requirement that all such grants had to have
been used according to the specifications set out by law since the
grant was made. A second exception dealt with a grant that con-
tained within its boundaries a natural oyster reef of more than
100 square yards in area containing natural oysters in sufficient
quantity to have been used by the general public for the purposes
of gathering oysters for a livelihood. These areas of natural reef
were to be returned to State property, with the duty on the grant
holder to mark them and to give the public notice that they were
The major purposes of the grant method of fishery manage-
ment were maintained in different form. The lease was instituted
by the 1913 act as the method of reserving an area of ocean bot-
tom to the individual for development of oyster culture. Most
of the essential features of the lease provisions in the act are
still in effect.
A feature of the early laws controlling the harvesting of
oysters from Florida's waters was that of preservation of State
natural resources for the benefit of State citizens. The estab-
lishment of the leasing system was accompanied by a restriction
on leasing to any person or company other than citizens of
Florida, Florida firms composed of citizens of the State, Florida
corporations domiciled in the State, and foreign corporations
that had received permits to do business in the State. A person
or firm was prohibited from holding or owning stock in more
than one oyster corporation or firm leasing oyster bottoms in
A maximum of 500 acres of water bottom was permitted any
one person, firm, or corporation. This included a lease and, in
addition, holding or control in some manner. Any lease, holding,
or control gained through partnership, association, agreement,
understanding, or combination that exceeded 500 acres sub-
jected the person holding or controlling the area to the forfeiture
of all his leases.
Some features of interest concerning the lease are the appli-
cation for lease, obligations of rental payment, and obligation to
develop. When a qualified person had made the decision as to
what area he would like to develop, an application was made, in
writing, to the Commissioner of Agriculture (at that time in
charge of issuing the leases). The application included a descrip-
tion of the area, and a request that the commissioner have the
area surveyed and mapped by the Shellfish Commissioner (an
office not now in existence). A sum sufficient to cover the esti-
mated cost of making the survey was to accompany the applica-
tion. In considering the application, the Commissioners were
to require that the bodies of land leased were to be as compact
as possible, taking into account the shape of the body of water
and the condition of the bottom as to hardness, the presence of
soft mud or sand, and other conditions that would render the
bottoms desirable or undesirable for the purpose of oyster
With the completion of the survey and mapping, and after
the cost had been paid by the applicant, the lease and map were
executed in duplicate, with one copy going to the person applying
for the lease, and the other copy being retained by the Commis-
sioner of Agriculture and registered in a lease book kept exclu-
sively for the purpose.
A possible conflict between applicants was foreseen by the
Legislature, and specific rules were laid down so that, in the
event two or more persons applied for a lease to the same ground,
the lease was to go to the application made first in time. In a
continuing effort to recognize and protect the rights of a riparian
owner, lease applications for land owned under riparian laws
were not permitted without notice to the riparian owner. After
notification that the application had been filed, the riparian
owner was given the opportunity to apply for a lease if he so
desired. Preference was given to the owner's application. The
former provision pertaining to rights of riparian owners was
incorporated in the 1913 act. That is, the riparian owners were
not to be disturbed in the use of land a reasonable distance out
from medium tide for the purpose of erecting wharves, docks,
piers, warehouses, or other permanent structures. The restric-
tions on footage of beds in front of public or unoccupied land was
not included in the 1913 act.
It was possible that natural reefs would be included in the
lease. The result would be a private reservation of public prop-
erty against the intent of the oyster bed leasing system. A way
was provided by the 1913 act for those interested in the use of
natural reefs to protect them from leasing by private persons.
If someone believed that a natural reef (of 100 square yards
or more) had been included in a lease, a petition was to be sub-
mitted within six months after the lease had been granted point-
ing out the problem to the Commissioner of Agriculture. If an
investigation by the Shellfish Commissioner showed that such a
natural reef was included, the area was to be set off and clearly
marked as public land at the expense of the leaseholder. Proper
notice to and hearing of the leaseholder was required, and the
decision was appealable to the Chancery Courts of the county.
The statute also gave the Commissioner of Agriculture the power
to leave such natural beds in the lease if he thought it best for the
interests of the State and the oyster industry.
As under the grant system the person leasing the bottom was
required by the Shellfish Commissioner to stake off and mark
the leased area to indicate clearly the location and limits of the
leased bottoms. Marking was to be done using ranges, monu-
ments, stakes, buoys, etc., placed so as not to interfere with
navigation. The markers were to be kept in good condition dur-
ing the open season, with a penalty of a fine for failure to do so.
A rent was to be paid for the lease. The annual amount for
the first ten years of the existence of the lease was 50-cents per
acre or fraction of an acre. After the lease had been in existence
for ten years, the rentals were to be increased to an amount
based on the assessed value of the leased water bottoms, though
not less than one dollar per acre per year was to be charged. The
Commissioner of Agriculture, with the assistance of the Shellfish
Commissioner, assessed the rental value, taking into considera-
tion their value as oyster-growing bottoms, their nearness to
factories, transportation, and other conditions influencing the
value of the bed. Based upon the assessment, a rental rate was
The possible dissatisfaction of the leaseholder with value
assessment for rental rate purposes was anticipated by the
Legislature, and a provision allowed the leaseholder to bring suit
against the Commissioner to have the valuation passed upon by
a court of law. Right of appeal was granted to both parties.
Failure to pay the rental as stipulated in the lease had some
serious possible consequences. After proper notice of rental
being overdue and after publication of notice that the lease was
to be cancelled, the Commissioner was to sell the lease to the
highest bidder. After extracting rental payments due and the
cost of cancellation, the remainder, if any, of the purchase money
was given to the former leaseholder.
The rental paid to the Commissioner of Agriculture was the
only payment to be extracted from the leaseholder. Taxes by
the State, by counties, and by cities were expressly prohibited.
The requirement in the original 1881 act that the granted
bottoms be used by planting oysters upon them was continued
as a prerequisite for continuation of the lease, with a more spe-
cific schedule of development requirement contained in the 1913
act. During the first year of the lease, cultivation should have
been started, with at least one-tenth of the total leased bottom
being placed under cultivation by the end of the second year.
Each year thereafter a further one-tenth of the leased area
was to be placed under cultivation until the total lease was
cultivated. "Cultivation" required that at least 200 barrels of
oysters, shells, or its equivalent in cultch was to be planted
Many of the characteristics of the grants were included in
the lease provisions of the act of 1913. With exceptions noted
below, the lease was transferable and heritable as the grant
had been. Leases were subject to mortgage and pledge, and were
subject to seizure and sale for debts as any other property. The
provision also applied to all buildings, betterments, and improve-
ments on the leased area. In order for the inheritance or sale
to be valid, an authentic act, judgment or proper judicial deed
had to be registered in the office of the Commissioner of Agri-
culture in the book provided for the purpose. An index was to
be kept to assure that all original leases and subsequent transfers
were easily found.
As previously mentioned, restrictions were placed on leasing
to nonresidents of Florida and on control of more than 500 acres
of bottom by any one person. These restrictions could not be
circumvented through transfers or through the operation of the
rules of inheritance. If a non-resident or person holding 500
acres of leased bottom acquired more leased area by inheritance
or forced sale, he was permitted to hold the lease for a maximum
of two years, during which time he was to sell to some qualified
After an area of bottom was leased and marked, protection
of the bottom was given by the State, though it was illegal to
stake off a portion of water bottom not leased, and no protection
would be granted to such areas. It was illegal to remove oysters,
shells, or cultch from leased land without the owner's permission.
It was also a violation of the law to remove, change, or other-
wise interfere with the stakes, buoys, etc., used to mark the
boundaries of the lease.
In 1953 a change was made in cultivation requirements .
Instead of one-tenth, one-fourth of the leased property had to be
cultivated each year. This is the present requirement, along with
the original fixed rental fee for the first ten years of the lease.
In 1957 an act permitted a temporary lifting of the require-
ments to plant private leased grounds in the case where it was
determined that some transient hydrographic or biological con-
ditions precluded successful cultivation . A permit was
obtained which excused the leaseholder from planting, to be
revokable on 30 days notice that growing conditions were again
Procedural matters for appeal to a court in the case of
rental disagreement, natural reef inclusion in a lease, and
boundary dispute settlement by the Board of Conservation (by
now in charge of the leasing system) were amended in 1963 to
reflect new State court systems .
Since the beginning of oyster ground granting and leasing
arrangements the rights of riparian owners to build into the
water had been protected. They were allowed to build out a
reasonable distance for permanent structures, and were allowed
to fill out from the shore. This was changed by a 1965 act which
repealed the subsection of the statutes in which these provisions
were contained . There was no replacement of the omitted
Three acts in 1971 dealt with several aspects of oyster bed
leasing, including rent , lease transfer , marking leases
, and cultch restrictions on the lease .
Though the lease was still heritable, transferable, etc., the
written acquiescence of the Division of Marine Resources within
the Department of Natural Resources was required; and a $50.00
fee was to be included. Sale or barter of the lease was prohibited
until the lease had been in existence at least two years and had
been properly cultivated according to statutory requirements. The
rent for the first ten years of a lease was increased to $5.00,
excluding those leases in effect at the time the law was enacted.
Leases were to be marked according to the standards pre-
scribed in other parts of the Florida Statutes, derived from
uniform waterway markers for safety and navigation provisions.
As before, the type and description of the markers used could
be specified by the Division in the lease itself. A further require-
ment made the duty to maintain markers of a lease applicable to
the closed season as well as the open season.
Finally, the Division was allowed to stipulate in each in-
dividual lease contract the types, shape, depth, size, and height
of cultch materials on lease bottoms according to the individual
shape, depth, location, and type of bottom on the proposed lease
area. Specific authority was given to adopt rules and regulations
pertaining to the water column over oyster leases. If cultch ma-
terial not conforming to the specifications were still present six
months after the publication of the rules and regulations, they
could be declared a nuisance. The Division could direct the lease-
holder to remove the cultch, and if he refused, the lease could
be canceled, with all cultch, improvements, marketable oysters,
and shell to become the property of the State to be disposed of
in the best interests of Florida.
The publications in this collection do
not reflect current scientific knowledge
or recommendations. These texts
represent the historic publishing
record of the Institute for Food and
Agricultural Sciences and should be
used only to trace the historic work of
the Institute and its staff. Current IFAS
research may be found on the
Electronic Data Information Source
site maintained by the Florida
Cooperative Extension Service.
Copyright 2005, Board of Trustees, University