2007 Florida Statutes
370.03 Water bottoms.--
(1) OWNERSHIP.--All beds and bottoms of navigable rivers, bayous, lagoons, lakes, bays, sounds, inlets, oceans, gulfs and other bodies of water within the jurisdiction of Florida shall be the property of the state except such as may be held under some grant or alienation heretofore made. No grant, sale or conveyance of any water bottom, except conditional leases and dispositions hereinafter provided for, shall hereafter be made by the state, the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, or any other official or political corporation. Persons who have received, or may hereafter receive permits to do business in this state, with their factories, shucking plants and shipping depots located in this state, may enjoy the right of fishing for oysters and clams from the natural reefs and bedding oysters and clams on leased bedding grounds, and shall have the right to employ such boats, vessels, or labor and assistants as they may need. Provided that no oysters shall be transported unshucked and in the shells, out of the state, except for use in what is commonly known as the "half-shell trade." When the oyster meats have been separated from the shells it shall be permissible to ship the meats out of the state for further processing and for canning or packing. It shall be unlawful to transport oysters out of the state, unshucked and in the shells, for processing or packing.
(2) CONTROL.--The Department of Environmental Protection has exclusive power and control over all water bottoms, not held under some grant or alienation heretofore made, including such as may revert to the state by cancellation or otherwise, and may lease the same to any person irrespective of residence or citizenship, upon such terms, conditions and restrictions as said division may elect to impose, without limitation as to area to any one person, for the purpose of granting exclusive right to plant oysters or clams thereon and for the purpose of fishing, taking, catching, bedding and raising oysters, clams and other shellfish. No such lessee shall re-lease, sublease, sell or transfer any such water bottom or property; provided, that nothing herein contained shall be construed as giving said department authority to lease sponge beds.
(3) FEES FOR BOTTOM LEASES, ETC.--The department shall charge and receive a fee of $2 for each lease granted, and in all other cases, not specifically provided by this chapter, the same fees as are allowed clerks of the circuit court for like services. All fees shall be paid by the party served.
(4) CONFIRMATION OF FORMER GRANTS; PROVISO.--All grants prior to June 1, 1913, made in pursuance of heretofore existing laws, where the person receiving such grant, the person's heirs or assigns, have bona fide complied with the requirements of said law, are hereby confirmed; provided, that if any material or natural oyster or clam reefs or beds on such granted premises are 100 square yards in area and contained natural oysters and clams (coon oysters not included) in sufficient quantity to have been resorted to by the general public for the purpose of gathering oysters or clams to sell for a livelihood, at the time they were planted by such grantee, his or her heirs or assigns, such reefs or beds are declared to be the property of the state; and when such beds or reefs exist within the territory heretofore granted as above set forth, or that may hereafter be leased, such grantee or lessee shall mark the boundaries of such oyster and clam reefs or beds as may be designated by the department as natural oyster or clam reefs or beds, clearly defining the boundaries of the same, and shall post notice or other device, as shall be required by the department, giving notice to the public that such oyster or clam beds or reefs are the property of the state, which said notice shall be maintained from September 1 to June 1 of each and every year, on each oyster bed or reef and on each clam bed for such period of each year as the board may direct, at the expense of the grantee or lessee. The department shall investigate all grants heretofore made, and where, in its opinion, the lessee or grantee has not bona fide complied with the law under which he or she received his or her grant or lease, and the department is authorized and required to institute legal proceedings to vacate the same, in order to use such lands for the benefit of the public, subject to the same dispositions as other bottoms.
History.--ss. 2, 3, ch. 28145, 1953; s. 1, ch. 29941, 1955; ss. 14, 25, 27, 35, ch. 69-106; s. 202, ch. 94-356; s. 982, ch. 95-148; s. 238, ch. 99-245.