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Veterans will soon find it easier to get commercial fishing licenses

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TAMPA – Florida veterans wishing to enter the commercial fishing industry may soon be able to do so more easily thanks to changes made today at the Sept. 5-6 Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) meeting in Tampa. These changes are anticipated to take effect on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, 2012.

The Commission implemented a new program that will modify income requirements for Florida veterans seeking a commercial restricted species endorsement license.

The restricted species endorsement allows commercial harvesters to fish for and sell species that are designated as restricted. Spanish and king mackerel, flounder, shrimp, dolphin and several reef fish are among the list of species that require a restricted species endorsement.

Currently, commercial harvesters attempting to qualify for a restricted species endorsement license 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. After June 30, 2014, this income requirement waiver will continue to extend to Florida veterans so long as they apply within four years of an honorable discharge.

The one-license-year waiver also extends to honorably discharged veterans with service-connected disabilities. After the one-year waiver expires, veterans with service-connected disabilities will have a reduced income requirement of $2,500 instead of $5,000. To qualify for these exemptions, veterans must be certified by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs or the United States Armed Forces to have at least a 10-percent disability that is service-connected.