The Oculina Bank, a 90-mile strip of reefs off the central east coast of Florida, is a unique place named for the slow-growing ivory tree coral, Oculina varicosa, which forms massive thickets there, supporting diverse communities of finfish and invertebrates.
In 1984, the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council established the 92-square mileOculina Bank Habitat Area of Particular Concern (OHAPC)in order to protect the fragile coral from damage. The OHAPC was expanded in 2000 to include an additional 300 square miles and the Council has proposed additional expansions based on recent scientific research.
Know The Rules Before You Go!
Oculina Bank Habitat Area of Particular Concern (OHAPC) and Experimental Closed Area
Restrictions are in place in the 300-square mile OHAPC to protect fragile Oculina coral found in the area. The 92-square mile Oculina Experimental Closed Area (OECA) within the OHAPC has further restrictions to protect species of snapper and groupers.
OHAPC Coordinates: Bounded on the north by 28°30′ N. Lat., on the south by 27°30′ N. Lat., on the east by the 100-fathom (183 meter) contour, as shown on the latest edition of NOAA chart 11460, and on the west by 80°00′ W. Long. Two satellite areas are adjacent: the first bounded on the north by 28°30′ N. Lat., on the south by 28°29′ N. Lat., on the east by 80°00′ W. Long, and on the west by 80°03′ W. Long. The second satellite is bounded on the north by 28°17′ N. Lat., on the south by 28°16′ N. Lat., on the east by 80°00′ W. Long., and on the west by 80°03′ W. Long. OHAPC Restrictions include: No anchoring, trawling, use of fish traps, bottom-longlining, fishing rock shrimp, or possession of coral or bottom habitat.
OECA Coordinates: The Experimental Closed Area is bounded on the north by 27°53′ N. Lat., on the south by 27°30’N. Lat., on the east by 79°56′ W. Long., and on the west by 80°00′ W. Long. This area provides researchers with the opportunity to evaluate the effect of prohibiting bottom fishing and fishing-related impacts to habitat in a closed area in the South Atlantic region. OECA Fishing Restrictions Include: All OHAPC restrictions, no fishing for or possession of snapper grouper species, and any snapper or grouper caught incidentally while targeting other species must be released immediately by cutting the line without removing the fish from the water.
Regulations in red are new this year.
Purple text indicates an important note.