Before heading out, check weather conditions. Strong winds and rough seas can
result in poor visibility and reduce safe interaction at the reef.
Dumping trash at sea is illegal; plastic bags and other debris can injure or kill
marine animals. Bring your trash back to shore and recycle it. Try to retrieve fishing
gear and equipment, especially monofilament line.
Use sewage pump-out facility and biodegradable bilge cleaner and never discharge
bilge water at the reef.
Use reef mooring buoys or anchor in sandy areas away from coral and seagrasses
so that anchor, chain, and line do not contact or damage coral or seagrasses.
Accidental boat groundings damage coral and seagrasses. Consult tide and
navigational charts and steer clear of shallow areas. Fine are imposed for such
Avoid areas which appear brown in color. Shallow reef areas and seagrass beds
will appear brown.
If you run aground; immediately turn the engine off, and tilt it up if possible. Do not
try to motor off. Wait until high tide to remove the vessel. Call for assistance when
When in a diving area, slow down to an idle speed.
Fishermen, do not troll over or near divers. Stay at least 100 feet from a red and
white diver down flag and watch for bubbles.
Florida law requires a fishing license. Applicable size, bag limits, and seasons
must be observed when harvesting seafood. Release all the fish you cannot eat.
Don't throw fish carcasses or wrung lobsters overboard or into canals as they
decompose and degrade water quality.
Avoid wildlife disturbance; stay 100 yards or more offshore; keep speed, noise and
wakes to a minimum near mangroves.
Camping, campfires and collecting of any kind are prohibited in all National Wildlife
Refuges. Personal watercraft and airboats are illegal in all National Parks and
Wildlife Refuges in the Florida Keys.
Other rules and regulations apply in various areas of the Florida Keys. Check with
the appropriate governing agencies.
201 William St
Key West, FL 33040
Follow speed regulations and channel markers.
Speed zones and channel markers are safety devices used to provide guidance in dangerous areas, prevent
boats from running aground, and help protect the shoreline from erosion.
Buoys and markers may also indicate areas of ecological or biological importance, such as natural seagrass
beds or marine mammal protected areas.
High speeds in shallow waters can stir up ground sediments. Such turbulence not only affects sea plants and
bottom-dwelling organisms, but also impairs your ability to see sandbars, submerged obstacles, dangerous
shoals, or surfacing marine animals (such as manatees or sea turtles). Sand churned up from the bottom can
also damage your engine's cooling system and lead to costly repairs.
If you become grounded, do not attempt to motor your way out.
This could cause serious damage not only to your motor and propellers, but also to the seafloor and local marine
If you sight a marine mammal such as a manatee, dolphin or whale, slow down and keep a safe distance of 100
yards. It is illegal to feed, harass, molest, or injure a marine mammal.
When anchoring, use mooring buoys or appropriate ground tackle, lower your anchor slowly and check your
Anchoring on rubble, coral reefs, or sea grass is unsafe and will destroy the underwater environment.
||working channel; secondary calling channel
||bridge to bridge
||hailing and distress broadcast channel which is monitored 24 hours by the
Coast Guard; use this channel only for hailing or emergencies. It is not
intended for casual conversation.
||public coast stations
|Ch 68, 69, 71, 72
||working channels open for communications among pleasure boaters
||weather channels provide 24 hour weather information.
SOURCE: the US Coast Guard
Florida Keys, Boating, Fishing Tips