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February, 2018 Commission Meeting

Time: 8:30 a.m.
Dates: February 7 - 8, 2018
Place: Florida Public Safety Institute Conference Center
85 Academy Drive
Havana, Florida 32333

This meeting is open to the public

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (Commission) is committed to providing 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 a designated time period on the agenda at the end of day one, February 7th.  Those who wish to offer comments during this period will be asked to make sure their comments are not related to any agenda item.

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 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 find additional details at www.gadsdencc.com/index.cfm

Agenda

8:30 a.m., Wednesday, February 7

  1. Call to Order
    1. Call to Order
    2. Invocation and Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag
  2. Administrative Matters
    1. Review and Approve December 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. Executive Director’s Report
  4. Foundation Update
  5. Awards and Recognition
    1. Private Landowner of the Year Award
    2. Shikar Safari Club International Wildlife Officer of the Year Award
    3. Rodney Barreto Employee of the Year Award
    4. Louise Ireland Humphrey Award

      ANTICIPATED BREAK

  6. Special Recognition – The Commission will recognize former Executive Director Wiley for his years of service to the agency.
  7. Staff Report – Federal Legislative Issues Update.  This item will cover legislative activity by Congress relating to fisheries and wildlife issues.  The Commission may provide direction on items as needed.
    Summary Memo | Presentation

           ANTICIPATED LUNCH BREAK

  8. Items Requiring Action
    1. Final Rule – Rule Changes for Hunting 2018 – 2019.  Staff will present final rule amendments to revise select statewide hunting regulations, specific area regulations on Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs), Wildlife and Environmental Areas (WEAs) and Miscellaneous Areas and to conform hunting dates to calendar year date changes.  The Commission approved draft rules on December 6, 2017.  Details on the proposed changes are provided in the background document.
      Summary Memo | Draft Rule 68A-1.004 | Draft Rule 68A-9.007 | Draft Rule 68A-12.002 | Draft Rule 68A-13.008 | Draft Rule 68A-15.004 | Draft Rule 68A-15.006 | Draft Rule 68A-15.061 | Draft Rule 68A-15.062Draft Rule 68A-15.063 | Draft Rule 68A-15.064 | Draft Rule 68A-15.065 | Draft Rule 68A-17.004 | Draft Rule 68A-17.005 | Draft Rule 68A-26-002 | NOC 68A-12.002 | NOC 68A-15.064 | Final Hunting Rules Presentation | Plank Road WMA
    2. Species Conservation Measures and Permitting Guidelines.  The Species Conservation Measures and Permitting Guidelines for 8 state designated Threatened species will be presented for approval.  Guidelines contains information on species biology and habitat needs, provide guidance on survey methodology and voluntary conservation practices, and outline protections for each species.
      Summary Memo | Barbours Map Turtle Guidelines | Big Cypress Fox Squirrel Guidelines | Black Creek Crayfish Guidelines | Blackmouth Shiner Guidelines | Florida Burrowing Owl Guidelines | Florida Pine Snake Guidelines | Saltmarsh Topminnow Guidelines | Santa Fe Cave Crayfish Guidelines | Presentation | Burrowing Owl Addendum | Florida Pine Snake Addendum
    3. Regulatory Review – Dry Tortugas National Park Research Natural Area.  Staff will provide an update on research and management of the Research Natural Area (RNA) within Dry Tortugas National Park.  Dry Tortugas National Park, 70 miles west of Key West, contains a pristine shallow-water reef system in close proximity to deep-water multi-species spawning habitat.  Water currents from this region are capable of distributing fish larvae throughout much of the Florida peninsula. In 2007, the Commission concurred with National Park Service (NPS) Special Regulations to close the RNA to fishing with the expectation that research would be conducted over the next five years to evaluate the response of fisheries resources in the region.  Staff presented research results to the Commission in 2012 summarizing the RNA performance, prompting the Commission to offer its continued concurrence with the Special Regulations for an additional five years.  Staff will present additional research results demonstrating that fish populations in the region continue to respond well to management measures in place in the region and recommend the Commission once again renew its concurrence with the National Park Service’s (NPS) Special Regulations in the RNA and revisit the issue again in 20 years, or sooner should the NPS recommend changes to the Special Regulations.
      Summary Memo | Presentation

      ANTICIPATED BREAK

  9. Public Comment on Items Not on the Agenda
  10. Recess Wednesday’s Portion of the Meeting no later than 6:00 pm

    8:30 a.m., Thursday, February 8



  11. Call to Order
  12. Staff Reports
    1. Budget and Legislative Update.  Staff will present an update to the Commission on the FWC Legislative Budget Requests for FY 18/19 and the status of legislation during the 2018 Session.
      Summary Memo
    2. Wildlife Management Area (WMA) 75th Anniversary.  Staff will provide an update regarding the celebration of the 75th Anniversary of Florida’s WMA System.
      Summary Memo | Presentation
  13. Item Requiring Action – Draft Rule – 2018 Gulf Red Snapper Season.  Staff will provide a review and discussion of recent federal Gulf red snapper discussions, an update on the 2018 recreational red snapper harvest season for state waters of the Gulf of Mexico, and proposed data collection improvements for the Gulf state waters for-hire red snapper/reef fish fishery.  Commission direction may be requested on the 2018 season and staff will present the following proposed draft rule:

    68B-14.009 Reporting Requirement – In accordance with 379.354(7)(e) F.S., the proposed draft rule would improve data collection capabilities for certain reef fish species by identifying the population of state for-hire operations fishing for these species during 2018 and 2019. Specifically, the proposed draft rule would require charter, headboat, and saltwater fishing guide operations that target or harvest certain reef fish in Gulf of Mexico state waters (excluding Monroe County), to report their intention to harvest or attempt to harvest the following species: red snapper, vermilion snapper, gag grouper, red grouper, black grouper, gray triggerfish, greater amberjack, lesser amberjack, banded rudderfish, or almaco jack.  This requirement would not apply to vessels fishing under a valid federal Gulf of Mexico Charter/Headboat Permit for Reef Fish.
    Summary Memo | Presentation

    ANTICIPATED BREAK

  14. Staff Reports
    1. Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (GMFMC) Report.  Staff will report on actions from the GMFMC’s January 29 – February 1 meeting in New Orleans, LA.  Topics include descending devices, red snapper and reef fish.
      Summary Memo | Presentation
    2. South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) Report.  Staff will report on actions from the SAFMC's December 4-8 meeting in Atlantic Beach, NC.  Topics include red grouper, red snapper, and golden tilefish.
      Summary Memo | Presentation | Update
  15. Items Requiring Action
    1. Final Rule – Bay Scallops. Staff will present a proposal to implement regionally-specific open harvest seasons for the bay scallop 2018 season. The Commission implemented regionally-specific seasons on a trial basis during the 2017 scallop season and staff have been gathering public feedback on a proposal to continue a similar season structure on a long-term basis. The Commission approved draft rules at the December 2017 Commission meeting that would create the regionally-specific open seasons described below. Since the December meeting, staff have received additional public feedback on the proposal.

      68B-18.005 Closed Seasons for Harvest of Bay Scallops – Staff will present the Commission with both the previously discussed season structure detailed below and an option to adopt 2018 season dates that are similar to the 2017 season via Executive Order:

      • Dixie County and a portion of Taylor County (including Keaton Beach and Steinhatchee): For all state waters south and east of Rock Island near the mouth of the Fenholloway River in Taylor County to the Suwannee River Alligator Pass Daybeacon # 4 in northern Levy County (29°15.350’ North Latitude), modify the regulations to create an open season that begins the third Saturday in June and continues through September 10 each year.
      • Levy, Citrus, and Hernando counties: For all state waters south of the Suwannee River Alligator Pass Daybeacon # 4 in northern Levy County (29°15.350’ North Latitude) to the Hernando-Pasco county line, modify the regulations to create an open season that begins July 10 and continues through September 10 each year.
      • For all other areas open to the harvest of bay scallops (including Franklin, Wakulla, Jefferson and northwestern Taylor County): Modify the regulations to create an open season that begins July 1 and continues through September 24 each year.

        Note: This season would also serve as a placeholder for all of Gulf County (including St. Joseph Bay) until a long-term season can be established for that area.  In the immediate future, the actual season for Gulf County would be set each year via executive order, as described below.

        Staff will also present recommendations to establish bay scallop regulations in Pasco and Gulf counties for 2018 by Executive Order.  Setting the 2018 regulations for these regions via Executive Order will allow the Commission flexibility to re-evaluate any potential changes that might be needed for 2019 and subsequent seasons.

      • St. Joseph Bay and all of Gulf County: Staff will recommend setting the 2018 recreational scallop season to begin August 17 and continue through September 30, 2018.  Long-term changes to the open harvest season would be established by rule in the future, once the population is more fully rebuilt.
      • Pasco County: Staff will recommend establishing a short, 10-day trial season for state waters off Pasco County by Executive Order for the 2018 season only.  The 2018 season in Pasco County would run July 20 – 29 for this 2018 trial season and statewide bag and vessel limits would apply.
        Summary Memo | Presentation | Presentation - Update
    2. Draft Rule – Sheepshead and Tripletail.  As part of the effort to address management of a variety of popular inshore fisheries, staff have reviewed available data on tripletail and sheepshead, and gathered public input on their management.  Following a presentation on these species at the July 2017 Commission meeting, staff continued working with participants in these fisheries in an effort to fine tune the proposal.

      Tripletail

      In 1996, Florida proactively implemented tripletail-specific regulations based on stakeholder concerns about the fishery.  Participation in this fishery has increased in and additional scientific research is now available to inform management decisions.  Staff will present the following proposed draft rules:

      68B-49.001 Designation as a Restricted Species,68B-49.004 Bag and Vessel Limits; Bycatch Allowance and 68B-49.006 Allowed and Prohibited Gear and Method of Harvest; Bycatch Exception – The proposed rules would extend FWC’s current and proposed rules for tripletail into federal waters and update language related to extending FWC’s regulations into federal waters.

      68B-49.003 Size Limit; Landed in Whole Condition Requirement – The proposed rule would increase the minimum size limit from 15 to 18 inches in order to more closely align with the size at maturity and would update language related to extending FWC’s regulations into federal waters.

      Sheepshead

      Stakeholders have expressed concerns about the status of the sheepshead population.  Staff heard that the current daily recreational bag limit of 15 sheepshead per person is unnecessarily high and is resulting in overexploitation of pre-spawning aggregations.  Sheepshead were previously managed in Atlantic federal waters off of Florida by the South Atlantic Council.  In 2012, the council removed sheepshead from their management with the expectation that FWC would take over management in federal waters off of Florida.  Taking stakeholder concerns into account, as well as the increased pressure on all inshore fisheries, staff will present the following draft rules:

      68B-59.001 Designation as Restricted Species,68B-59.003 Size Limit; Landed in Whole Condition Requirement and 68B-59.006 Allowed and Prohibited Gear and Methods of Harvest; Bycatch Exception – The proposed rule would extend FWC’s current and proposed rules for sheepshead into federal waters and update language extending FWC’s regulations into federal waters.

      68B-59.004 Bag Limits; Bycatch Allowance – The proposed rule would reduce the daily recreational bag limit for sheepshead from 15 to 5. The proposed rule would also create a vessel limit of 50 sheepshead for recreational harvesters during the peak spawning months of March and April and update language related to extending FWC’s regulations into federal waters.
      Summary Memo | Presentation | Rule Language

  16. General Counsel Report
  17. Future Agenda Items
  18. Commissioner Exchange
  19. Adjournment

The next Commission Meeting is scheduled for April 25 – 26, 2018 in Fort Lauderdale, commencing at 8:30 a.m. each day.

Consent Agenda

  1. Final Rule – Permit.  FWC Staff have heard concerns that the spawning season closure for permit inside the Special Permit Zone (SPZ) in the Keys and Biscayne Bay is not providing as much conservation for spawning aggregations as was originally intended.  The existing closure runs May – July every year.  Angler reports of aggregations forming the month prior to the existing closure are supported by telemetry data that confirm spawning size permit are using known aggregation sites throughout April – July.  A draft rule amendment was approved by the Commission on December 7, 2017.  The proposed final rule would provide additional conservation for permit in April during these spawning aggregations.

    68B-35.006 Closed Season – The proposed rule would modify the permit spawning season closure inside the SPZ to add April to the existing May-July closure.

    Summary Memo | 68B-35.006 | Presentation

  2. Draft Rule – Spiny Lobster Trap Certificate Program regulations clean-up.  The proposed draft rule amendments would remove outdated rule language found in the Commission’s spiny lobster trap certificate program regulations that are inconsistent with statutory provisions provided by the Legislature.  The proposed changes will reduce confusion within the fishery and improve the clarity of Florida’s Spiny Lobster Trap Certificate Program regulations.

    68E-18.002 Definitions.  The proposed draft rule amendment would remove the definition of “temporary transfers” which references the rental or leasing of trap tags, an activity that is no longer allowed under Florida Statutes.  This outdated rule language was established in 1995, and has not been updated since the leasing of spiny lobster trap tags or certificates was prohibited by the Legislature in 2003.

    68E-18.003 Certificate Allocations and Fees.  The proposeddraft rule amendment would remove rule language that provides for the suspension of a licenseholder’s spiny lobster trap certificates if payment is made by an invalid check.  This penalty is inconsistent with statutory penalties created by the Legislature.

    68E-18.006 Rental or Leasing of Trap Tags.  The proposed draft rule would repeal outdated language that appears to authorize the rental or leasing of a certificate holder’s spiny lobster trap tags.  This rule was established in 1995 before the leasing of spiny lobster trap tags or certificates was prohibited by the Legislature in 2003.

    68E-18.008 Suspension of Certificates and Crawfish Endorsement.  The proposeddraft rule amendment would repeal rule language that provides for the suspension of a licenseholder’s spiny lobster trap certificates or crawfish endorsement in certain circumstances that are inconsistent with statutory penalties created by the Legislature.

    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.

    Summary Memo | 68E-18

  3. FWC State Wildlife Grants Program rule updates – This proposed amendment will address revisions to Florida’s State Wildlife Grants Program Guidelines.  Subsection 11 of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Grant Rule (68-1.003) already refers to Florida’s State Wildlife Grant Program Guidelines as well as a Budget Form and an Application Form from 2017.  FWC is proposing that the rule reference 2018 State Wildlife Grant Program Guidelines.  Other referenced documents will remain the same.

    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.

    Summary Memo | 68-1.003 | Guidelines



FWC Facts:
Vessels with built-in fuel tanks or enclosed compartments where gasoline fumes can accumulate must carry at least one fire extinguisher approved for marine use.

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