Florida and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officially made changes to commercial licensing requirements on Veterans Day.
The changes, according to the FWC, will make it easier for Florida veterans and veterans with disabilities to enter the commercial fishing industry.
“We have a tremendous opportunity not only to give thanks to the men and women that served our nation so courageously, but also to provide them with more support so they can pursue careers in fishing here in Florida," said Florida Gov. Rick Scott. "This initiative will expand job opportunities for our veterans and get more folks involved in the commercial fishing industry, which is a win-win for Florida.”
FWC officials said the changes will modify income requirements for many of Florida veterans seeking a commercial restricted species endorsement, which allows commercial harvesters to fish for and sell species that are designated as restricted, a news release said.
The list of species that require a restricted species endorsement currently include Spanish and king mackerel, flounder, shrimp, mahi mahi and several reef fish.
Currently, commercial harvesters attempting to qualify for a restricted species endorsement must have a Florida Saltwater Products License, which is Florida’s commercial saltwater fishing license, and be able to attribute $5,000 or 25 percent of their total annual income during one of the past three years to sales of saltwater products.
With the new changes in place, restricted species endorsement income requirements will be waived for one license year (July 1 - June 30) for Florida veterans who were honorably discharged between Sept. 11, 2001, and June 30, 2014. According to the FWC, after June 30, 2014, this income-requirement waiver will continue to extend to Florida veterans as long as they apply within four years of an honorable discharge.
“I am excited to be extending this opportunity to the men and women who so bravely served our country,” said Commissioner Charles W. Roberts III in a news release. “Job creation and Florida’s economy are priorities for everyone, including the FWC. Our hope is that more of Florida’s veterans and veterans with disabilities, especially those who have recently returned from active duty, will be able to partake in the commercial seafood industry and benefit from this opportunity.”