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April, 2017 Commission Meeting

Time: 8:30am each day
Dates: April 19 - 20, 2017
Place: Florida Public Safety Institute
85 Academy Drive
Havana, Florida 32333

This meeting is open to the public

The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (Commission) is committed to providing ample opportunity for public input at each Commission meeting. As standard practice, the Commission will welcome public input regarding agenda items using the approved speaker registration process and time limits. To accommodate as much input as possible from those attending, the Chairman reserves the right to designate the amount of time given to each speaker, including time donation to other speakers.  With regard to public comment on subjects that are not on the agenda, the Commission will have time on the agenda at the end of day two, April 20th. Those who wish to offer comments during this period will be asked to make sure their comments are not related to any agenda item. For future meetings, the day for comment regarding items not on the agenda will be identified when the agenda is posted.

Pursuant to the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act, any person requiring special accommodations to participate in this meeting should notify the agency at least five calendar days before the meeting by calling 850-488-6411.  Contact the agency using the Florida Relay Service at 800-955-8771 (TDD) or 800-955-8770 (Voice) if you are hearing or speech impaired.

Agenda items listed under headings other than “Items Requiring Action” may be re-ordered or moved by the Chairman to different days of the meeting to accommodate scheduling issues. The Chairman may also ask staff and the public to work through lunch on either day. Please plan accordingly.

The meeting may include fact-finding field trips to Commission-managed areas or facilities; or to other areas to learn about management and enforcement activities.

If any person decides to challenge any decision with respect to any matter considered at the meeting, he or she may need to ensure that a verbatim record of the proceedings is made, which includes testimony and evidence upon which the challenge is based.

For information on lodging and restaurants in the area, you may call the Gadsden County Chamber of Commerce at (850) 627-9231, or visit their website.


8:30 a.m., Wednesday, April 19

  1. Call to Order
    1. Call to Order
    2. Invocation and Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag
  2. Administrative Matters
    1. Review and Approve February 2017 Commission Meeting Minutes
    2. Approve Regular Meeting Agenda
    3. Approve Consent Agenda – Any item not approved as part of the consent agenda may be moved to the regular meeting agenda and would be placed elsewhere on the agenda at the discretion of the Chairman.
  3. Staff Reports
    1. Upland Ecosystem Restoration Project (UERP).  Invited Guest, Dr. Bill Palmer, President, CEO, and Director of Research at Tall Timbers Research Station, will provide an update on UERP.
    2. Bear Management Update.  Staff will update the Commission on current management and research efforts.
  4. Item Requiring Action
    Draft Rule – Proposed Rule Changes for Expanded Small Game Opportunities 2017 – 2018.  Staff will present draft rule amendments to revise area regulations on select Wildlife Management Areas and Wildlife and Environmental Areas to provide for expanded small game opportunities.
  5. Staff Report
    Legislative and Budget Update.  Staff will present an update to the Commission on the status of FWC’s legislation during the 2017 Session and the FWC Legislative Budget Request for FY 17/18.
  6. Commissioner Exchange
  7. Recess Wednesday’s Portion of the Meeting

    8:30 a.m., Thursday, April 20

  8. Call to Order
  9. Award and Recognition
    The FWC Division of Law Enforcement, along with the Shikar Safari International Club, will present the Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award.
  10. Fish and Wildlife Foundation of Florida Update
    Foundation staff will present an update.
  11. Items Requiring Action
    1. Draft Rule – Gulf Gag Grouper.  Staff will present a draft rule to modify the recreational season for gag grouper harvest in state waters off Franklin, Wakulla, Jefferson, and Taylor counties based on stakeholder feedback.  The proposed draft rule for gag grouper harvest would modify the Commission's reef fish regulations as follows:

      68B-14.0039 Recreational Grouper Seasons – The recreational gag grouper harvest season in state waters off Franklin, Wakulla, Jefferson, and Taylor counties would continue to be open April 1 through June 30 each year and would also be open from September 1 through December 31 each year.

    2. Final Rule – Gulf Red Snapper and Gray Triggerfish.  Staff will present a proposed final rule to set the recreational harvest season for red snapper and discuss options for a limited fall 2017 harvest season for gray triggerfish in all state waters of the Gulf of Mexico.  Staff will also provide updates on the Gulf Council discussions on red snapper and gray triggerfish.  The proposed final rule for Gulf red snapper would modify the Commission's reef fish regulations as follows:

      68B-14.0038 Recreational Snapper Seasons – To maintain fishing opportunities for red snapper while approximating last year’s season structure, the red snapper season would be open on Saturdays and Sundays starting the first Saturday in May.  The season would then be open each day starting the Saturday before Memorial Day through the Sunday following July 4, then reopen for Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays in September and October, plus Labor Day.  If October 31 falls on a Saturday, the last day of harvest will be Sunday, November 1.

    3. Final Rule – 68C-22.023 Collier County Manatee Protection Rule.  Staff will seek final approval for rule amendments to the existing state manatee protection zones in portions of Collier County.
    4. Bald Eagle Status Update and Rule Revision – Staff will provide an update on the biological status of eagles in Florida and recent revisions to the federal Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.  Staff will recommend revisions to the state bald eagle rule 68A-16.002.
  12. South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) Report
    Staff will report on actions from the SAFMC's March 6-10 meeting in Jekyll Island, GA.  Topics include: red snapper, dolphin, yellowtail snapper, and descending devices.
  13. Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (GMFMC) Report
    Staff will report on actions from the GMFMC’s April 3-6 meeting in Birmingham, AL.  Topics include: deepwater corals, greater amberjack, and mutton snapper.  No discussion of red snapper or gray triggerfish will be provided during this item as those will be considered as a part of the final rule agenda item (Item 11 B).
  14. Staff Reports
    1. Marine Fisheries Workplan.  Staff will review new and ongoing marine fisheries management issues identified by staff and stakeholders and request approval of a workplan for a portion of those items to be addressed though staff efforts and/or Commission consideration of regulatory action during the 2017-2018 Fiscal Year.
    2. Invasive Species – 2017 Lionfish Challenge.  Staff will review the outcomes of the 2016 lionfish removal outreach and reward program and discuss recommendations for improving the program for 2017.  The 2016 opportunity was a two-part program with a statewide Lionfish Challenge and a Panhandle Pilot Program to target removals in the Panhandle where there are high concentrations of lionfish.  These programs rewarded participants for removing lionfish with a variety of raffles, prizes, and incentives.  Staff will present a series of recommendations for expanding the program in 2017 to encourage additional participation in lionfish removal and increase public involvement in this statewide effort.
  15. Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) Update
    Executive Director Nick Wiley, current President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, will provide an update on AFWA issues.
  16. Public Comment on Items Not on the Agenda
  17. General Counsel Report
  18. Future Agenda Items
  19. Executive Director’s Report
  20. Commissioner Exchange
  21. Commission Administrative Matters
    The next Commission Meeting is scheduled for July 10 – 11, 2017 in the Kissimmee Area, commencing at 8:30 a.m. each day.
  22. Adjournment

Consent Agenda

  1. Draft Rule – Warren Bayou (Bay County) Seasonal Closure Repeal.  A seasonal harvest closure for Warren Bayou was implemented in 1993 to reduce harvest pressure for fish that aggregated in Warren Bayou while seeking refuge in warm-water discharges of the Lansing Smith Power Plant during winter months.  Gulf Power Company decommissioned Lansing Smith’s coal-fired generators and as of March 2016 is no longer discharging warmed water into surrounding water bodies.  Since the closed area no longer provides an artificial warm-water refuge for fish, staff recommend allowing anglers to fish in this area year-round.  The proposed draft rule would repeal Rule 68B-5.003, Florida Administrative Code, which prohibits the harvest of marine fish from November through February each year from the waters of Warren Bayou, its tributaries, and within 100 yards of the mouth of the bayou.

    68B-5.003 Warren Bayou (Bay County) Special Seasonal Harvest Closure.  The proposed draft rule would repeal a regulation that was originally implemented to prevent mass harvest of fish seeking refuge in water that was artificially warmed by power plant discharges during the winter months.  The power plant no longer discharges warmed water into Warren Bayou and the surrounding water bodies and therefore the bayou no longer serves as a warm-water refuge.

    NOTE: Staff is requesting Commission approval to advertise the proposed amendment and file for adoption as soon as possible.  If the rule amendment is approved for both advertisement and final adoption, Commission staff will file the rule for adoption as allowed by s. 120.54(3) Florida Statutes, without further public hearing.

  2. Federal Consistency – King Mackerel.  The proposed rule amendments would revise the boundary between the Gulf-Atlantic and Atlantic king mackerel fisheries, streamline commercial king mackerel fishery regulations, and increase the Gulf-Atlantic recreational bag limit to be consistent with recent changes approved by the Councils for adjacent federal waters.

    68B-12.002 Definitions – This section would be modified to revise the boundary of the Gulf-Atlantic king mackerel fishery and remove unnecessary definitions for Eastern Region and Western Region.

    68B-12.004 Bag Limits – This section would be modified to increase the Gulf-Atlantic king mackerel recreational bag limit from two to three fish per person.

    68B-12.0046 Commercial Fishing Season for King Mackerel in the Gulf-Atlantic Fishery; Commercial Seasons Vessel and Landing Limits – This section would be modified to remove language pertaining to vessel limits for the Eastern Region and Western Region.

    68B-30.002 Definitions – This section would be modified to revise the boundary of the Atlantic king mackerel fishery.

    68B-30.003 Commercial Harvest Limits; Recreational Bag Limit; Gear Specifications – This section would be streamlined and clarify that persons harvesting king mackerel for commercial purposes in the Atlantic king mackerel fishery are subject to the commercial vessel limits in adjacent federal waters.

    68B-30.006 Other Prohibitions – This section would be modified to clarify that king mackerel that is legally harvested in federal waters by the commercial fishery may be sold.

    NOTE: If this proposed rule is approved, Commission staff would file the rule as allowed by the noticing requirements of 120.54 (6) Florida Statutes, which provides a process for adoption of federal standards without further hearing.

  3. Draft Rule – Rule 68A-13.003 Migratory bird hunting regulations.  Review and approval of migratory bird hunting regulations (dove, rail, gallinule, woodcock, snipe, special early waterfowl, regular waterfowl and coot, and limited Canada goose seasons) for the 2017-2018 season.  Staff is seeking approval to publish a Notice of Proposed Rule to decrease the bag limit for pintails from 2 to 1 and increase the bag limit for black duck from 1 to 2 to conform to federal frameworks.

    NOTE: Staff is requesting Commission approval to advertise the proposed rule amendment and file for adoption as soon as possible.  If the rule amendment is approved for both advertisement and final adoption, Commission staff will file the rule for adoption as allowed by s. 120.54(3) Florida Statutes, without further public hearing.

  4. Draft Rule – Aquatic Plant Control Permits.  Staff propose amendments to Chapter 68F-20, to address concerns expressed by environmental community stakeholders that staff are not spending enough time developing aquatic plant control plans and monitoring results of treatments.  The amendments include: codifying an on-line permitting system, increasing an exemption from permit requirements, and repealing reporting requirements.  These changes will free up some staff time spent processing permits and allow them to spend more time developing aquatic plant control plans and monitoring results of treatments. In addition, these changes will reduce the regulatory burden on the public.

    68F-20.0015 Definitions –add or modify several definitions to provide clarification and others are being removed because the terms are no longer used.

    68F-20.002 Permits – Applications – an on-line permitting system was developed a couple of years ago and is now being codified in rule.  Applicants will be responsible for providing a copy of any conservation easement in the area proposed for aquatic plant control and allow staff reasonable access to the proposed control site to engage in surveys and examinations related to permitting.

    68F-20.0035 Waters or Activities Exempt from Permitting – add language to clarify when exemptions apply.  Currently waters that are 10 surface acres or less are exempt from permitting provided they are not connected to Waters of Special Concern.  The proposed amendments would increase the exemption to waters that are less than 160 acres unless it is a public waterbody, or a waterbody that has a boatable connection to a public waterbody, or there is a connection to Waters of Special Concern.  There is an exemption in Florida Statutes that currently is not referenced in rule, this language would be added to this rule.

    68F-20.0045 Criteria for Issuing, Modifying or Denying Permit Applications – authorizing staff, when granting or denying a permit, to consider whether or not a conservation easement has been established that prohibits the alteration or removal of vegetation.

    68F-20.0055 Management Method Criteria and Standards, and Operations Requirements – clarify herbicide treatment setbacks from potable water intakes.  Repeal an outdated memorandum of understanding with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.  Repeal Annual Operations Report requirements.

    68F-20.0075 Penalties – repeal the penalty provision for not submitting an Annual Operations Report.  Clarifying what violations are subject to penalties and updating the proper statute citations for penalty provisions.

    NOTE: Staff is requesting Commission approval to advertise the proposed amendments and unless a hearing is requested, staff will file the rule amendments for adoption as allowed by s. 120.54(3), Florida Statutes, without further public hearing.

  5. Draft Rule – 68D-36.108 Florida Boater Education Temporary Certificate Program– Proposed Rule Amendments.  Staff proposes amending current rule language to provide guidelines and requirements for the administration of an online temporary certificate program by private vendors.  Key components of this change include requirements that vendors provide an online examination that is accessible by computer, tablet, smart phone, or other similar device comprised of 25 questions randomly generated from a bank of approved questions; a 7-day exemption from the boating safety identification requirements of section 327.395(1), F.S. for individuals who pass an online temporary certificate examination to allow time for issuance of the temporary certificate; and a requirement for vendors to remit to FWC all pertinent information of exam completion within 24 hours so FWC can issue the temporary certificate.  These changes are aimed at improving customer convenience and accessibility to the temporary certificate program.

    NOTE: Staff is requesting Commission approval to advertise the proposed rule amendment and file for adoption as soon as possible.  If the rule amendment is approved for both advertisement and final adoption, Commission staff will file the rule for adoption as allowed by s. 120.54(3) Florida Statutes, without further public hearing.

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