Florida waters extend 9 miles offshore in the Gulf of Mexico (3 in the Atlantic), but the FWC has entered into an agreement with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to enforce fishing laws in the area known as the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

Last year, the state received another patrol craft with offshore capabilities. The Guardian, based in Yankeetown, is a 45-foot aluminum-hulled boat designed for two- or three-day missions.

The Guardian is powered by twin Yanmar diesel engines and has a fuel capacity of 500 gallons. With a top speed of 42 knots and the latest in marine electronics, it gives the FWC a reach offshore previously enjoyed only by the U.S. Coast Guard.

"As a boater and a fisherman, this issue is close to my heart," said Crist, who as a state senator was one of the major backers of the net ban. "I grew up here and remember how the fishing used to be. We need to do what we can to preserve our fisheries for generations to come."