< Leave No Traces Practices - Florida Go Fishing
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Leave No Trace Practices

In order to keep our waterways and beaches pristine, always follow "Leave No Trace" practices. This involves everyone's conscious effort to keep our county in pristine condition and our wildlife safe.

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When fishing from the shore, always take home with you what you brought to the shore. Do not disturb wildlife and leave the shore as you found it. Follow the below practices to help keep our waterways pristine.

If you see trash in the water or you accidently drop something into the water, please retrieve it. When boating, do not throw anything overboard. Trash in our waterways endangers aquatic life and pollutes the waters. There are hefty fines for littering, so don't do it.

When Beaching Your Boat on mangrove islands or fishing from the shore:

  • "Leave Only Your Footprints"Boats on the beach
  • Always have trash containers handy and put your trash in them immediately
  • Perform a predeparture check to be sure you have not left any trash behind.
  • Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
  • Never take live shells, live shelling is prohibited in most of Florida (except those allowed to be taken under a recreational fishing license)
  • Place your anchor in the sand or tie a line to a piling; do not attach lines to mangrove trees
  • Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
  • Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.
  • Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the mangrove islands, avoid making them and bring a portable cookstoves and lanterns. Always mind your fires?during our dry months, fires can quickly spread and create a hazardous situation.

Tip iconPractice your boating skills while retrieving trash or other objects from the water. Motor your boat very slowly towards the object, point your bow directly at the object, as your bow gets close t the object put the boat in neutral, then bend over the side and grab to object as it passes along side your boat. If you miss the object, go back and try again!

Seagrass Beds

Boat grounded on a seagrass bedDisturbing precious seagrass beds is illegal in Florida and comes with a hefty fine. Be sure to always watch the depth of the water to avoid grounding your boat and disturbing seagrass beds. Your propeller can uproot seagrass easily because they are rooted is very fine loose sand.

It can take decades for seagrass beds to replenish themselves after the damage done by boat groundings. See our Hazards to Avoid page for more information.

Hook-and-Line Gear

Monofilament fishing line disposal unitHook-and-line anglers must practice Leave No Trace procedures with their fishing hooks and lines to protect wildlife. Always" mind your line".

It is against the law to intentionally discard any monofilament netting or line into or onto state waters. Monofilament line can entangle birds, marine mammals, marine turtles and fish, often injuring or killing them. At most public fishing areas you will find Fishing Line disposal containers, please use them.

The Monofilament Recovery & Recycling Program (MRRP) is a statewide effort to educate the public on the problems caused by monofilament line left in the environment, to encourage recycling through a network of line recycling bins and drop-off locations, and to conduct volunteer monofilament line cleanup events.


Everyone knows it is illegal with big fines and it's unethical to litter. Some unethical people believe "someone will pick it up", well that is not always so. Not only does litter make our waterways look unkempt, it more importantly harms the very wildlife that makes our sport so enjoyable. We see on the waterways while fishing aluminum cans, plastic bottles, Styrofoam cups or bait containers, glass jars, cigarette butts, fishing line, etc. Here's a few ways littering can harm wildlife:

  • Fish get entangled in six pack rings.
  • Birds build fatal nests with fishing line.
  • Birds and other animals become entangled in fishing line, ropes and nets that are left behind.
  • Sea turtles mistake plastic bags and balloons for their favorite food, the jellyfish, and choke on them. Visit our section below on to learn more about our Loggerhead Turtles.

A lot of trash ends up in the waterways as the result of "flying" off a moving boat, so always secure all items before powering up your boat. Please pick up any trash you come across, even if it isn't your! Always take an extra trash bag with you when fishing and/or boating for trash collection.

Trash stays in the environment for a very long time, thus increasing the chances of harming wildlife. This chart shows how long littered items take to decompose in the environment:

Chart showing how long items take to decompose in salt water
Source: http://www.dgif.state.va.us/fishing/sarep/PDF/resp_litter.pdf

Loggerhead Turtles

Turtle nest roped off on Naples beach The endangered Loggerhead Sea Turtle emerges to nest on our beaches each summer from May to August. You will see them roped off on most beaches. Florida is very active in protecting this endangered turtle. Turtle nests are closely monitored on all our beaches.

Please stay away and do not disturb the Turtle nests when visiting the beach, violators are subject to fines and imprisonment.

Loggerhead Turtles spend most of their life near shore and offshore, only coming to shore to nest. They are the world's largest hard-shell turtle 180 to 440 pounds (80 to 200 kilograms) with the world record at 1,200 pounds (545 kilograms).

Did You Know? Loggerhead Turtles always return to the their place of birth to lay their eggs.

The reason Loggerhead Sea Turtles are endangered is their high mortality rates due to humans, the 17 years or more it takes them to reach sexual maturity, and the high mortality rates of their eggs. The most common causes of death are from becoming entangled in longlines or gillnets from commercial fishing boats and from suffocating on plastic bags that they mistakenly think are their favorite food, the jelly fish.

Loggerhead turtle swimmingWe see a lot of Loggerheads in the summer months in our bays and close to shore. When boating look out for Loggerheads, do not circle them with your boat for a closer look, just consider yourself lucky if you see one as you pass. If you see one on the beach or the babies coming from their nests, do not approach them, move quietly away and let them do their thing.

You can help?when visiting our beaches to pickup any plastic bags you see on land or in the water to protect the Loggerhead! Also if you live on the beach, keep your lights off at night during nesting season, turtles will not come to shore when the lights are on.

Beach Cleanups

Southeast Florida's Marine Debris Reporting and Removal Program has a listing of beach cleanup events. Join the fun and volunteer today!