Understanding Fines for Fishing Violations in Florida

John Malcolm
John MalcolmPublished: November 22, 2023
Understanding Fines for Fishing Violations in Florida

Florida has some of the best fishing in the nation for both freshwater and saltwater. However, it's important to understand the laws and regulations surrounding fishing in Florida if you're going to cast a line. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has strict rules in place to protect the state's marine resources. Violating these rules can not only result in hefty fines but can also have serious ecological consequences.

Fortunately, we'll discuss everything you need to know about fines for fishing violations in Florida, including how the fines work, where the money goes, how to pay fines, and how to avoid penalties.

How do the fishing fines in Florida work?

The amount of fines for fishing violations in Florida varies depending on the severity of the offense. For example, fishing without a license can result in a fine of up to $500. However, more serious violations, such as overfishing or illegal harvesting, can result in fines of several thousand dollars.

In addition to the fines, violators may face other penalties, including losing fishing privileges and even jail time. It's important to note that fines can be cumulative, meaning each individual fish caught illegally can result in a separate fine.

Comprehensive list of fishing fines in Florida.

Below is a list of potential penalties for violations within the state.

Violation LevelViolation DescriptionPenalties
Level 1Violations related to filing of reports, documents, permits, and licenses issued by the commission.$50 fine Cost of the license or permit
Level 1Violations related to quota hunt permits, daily use permits, hunting zone assignments, camping, alcoholic beverages, vehicles, and check stations within wildlife management areas.$50 fine Cost of the license or permit
Level 1Violations related to daily use permits, alcoholic beverages, swimming, possession of firearms, operation of vehicles, and watercraft speed within fish management areas.$50 fine Cost of the license or permit
Level 1Violations related to vessel size or motor restrictions on specified water bodies.$50 fine Cost of the license or permit
Level 1Violations related to the return of unused CITES tags issued under the Statewide Alligator Harvest Program or the Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program.$50 fine Cost of the license or permit
Level 1Section 379.3003, prohibiting deer hunting unless required clothing is worn.$50 fine Cost of the license or permit
Level 1Section 379.354(1)-(15), providing for recreational licenses to hunt, fish, and trap.$50 fine Cost of the license or permit
Level 1Section 379.3581, providing hunter safety course requirements.$50 fine Cost of the license or permit
Level 2Violations related to seasons or time periods for the taking of wildlife, freshwater fish, or saltwater fish.2nd-degree misdemeanor Up to 60 days in jail Up to a $500 fine
Level 2Violations related to bag, possession, or size limits or restricting methods of taking wildlife, freshwater fish, or saltwater fish.2nd-degree misdemeanor Up to 60 days in jail Up to a $500 fine
Level 2Violations related to access to wildlife management areas or other areas managed by the commission.2nd-degree misdemeanor Up to 60 days in jail Up to a $500 fine
Level 2Violations related to the feeding of saltwater fish.2nd-degree misdemeanor Up to 60 days in jail Up to a $500 fine
Level 2Violations related to landing requirements for freshwater fish or saltwater fish.2nd-degree misdemeanor Up to 60 days in jail Up to a $500 fine

Where does the money from fishing fines go?

The fines collected for fishing violations in Florida go to a dedicated fund called the Marine Resources Conservation Trust Fund. This fund supports various conservation and habitat restoration efforts across the state.

These efforts include things like—

  • Broad-Based Depository. The fund serves as a broad-based depository for funds derived from various sources, as the Florida Statutes indicates.
  • Supporting Sea Turtle Programs. Proceeds from the sale of sea turtle specialty tags go toward funding the Marine Resources Conservation Trust Fund, which supports Florida's sea turtle program.
  • Department of Environmental Protection. The trust fund is also housed within the Department of Environmental Protection, contributing to environmental preservation efforts.
  • Financial Support. The fund provides financial support for various wildlife conservation initiatives, including non-game wildlife, as evidenced by budget allocations.
  • Youth Hunting and Fishing Programs. The fund contributes to youth hunting and fishing programs under the jurisdiction of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
  • Boating and Related Activities. The fund includes boating and boating-related activities, programs, and law enforcement under its purposes.

The trust fund does much more than that, but that's some of the top things it is designed to do. By paying your fishing fines, you are helping to support and protect Florida's precious marine resources for future generations. However, we recommend avoiding the fees altogether and playing by the rules.

How do I pay a fine?

Suppose you've been cited for a fishing violation in Florida. In that case, you'll typically receive the notice directly from a game warden or a mail notice outlining the citation details and the fine amount.

The notice should include information on how to pay the fine, usually done online or by mail or visiting the local county clerk's office.

It's important to pay fines promptly, as failure to pay can result in additional penalties and even legal action in some cases.

If you find yourself in a more severe violation, you might want to consider obtaining legal counsel to give you advice and represent you.

How can I avoid fines and penalties?

The easiest way to avoid fines and penalties for fishing violations is to make sure you understand the rules and regulations governing fishing in Florida.

This means obtaining the proper licenses and permits, following catch limits and size restrictions, and avoiding fishing in restricted areas.

It's also important to be aware of seasonal closures and other temporary fishing restrictions that may be in place.

The FWC provides a wealth of information on their website about fishing rules and regulations, and it's well worth taking the time to review this information before heading out on the water.

Fish all you want, but do it the right way.

So, if you're planning a fishing trip in Florida, take the time to familiarize yourself with the rules and regulations to ensure you're fishing legally and sustainably.

While fines for fishing violations in Florida can be steep, they're an important tool in protecting the state's valuable marine resources. By following the guidelines and avoiding violations, you can help conserve Florida's amazing marine ecosystems for years to come.

John Malcolm

John Malcolm

Expert Angler

John is a highly skilled angler with over two decades of experience and a passion that has led him to participate in numerous tournaments, including reeling in a remarkable 9lb bass on Lake Okeechobee. His dedication to fishing and willingness to share his expertise make him a respected ambassador for the angling community, inspiring others to appreciate the sport.

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