FWC wraps up 2-day meeting in Havana
Thursday, April 07, 2011
Media contact: (marine fisheries issues) Lee Schlesinger, 850-487-0554;
(other issues) Susan Smith, 850-488-8843
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC)
wrapped up its two-day meeting Thursday in Havana, learning that
Rodney Barreto is stepping down from his chairmanship of the
"Our fish and wildlife agency is so dedicated," Barreto said
after other commissioners praised his leadership over the years. He
repaid the compliments by praising employees' diligence and
commitment, epitomized by a video of FWC biologist Adam Warwick
swimming in the Gulf with a bear under his arm so the animal
Barreto anticipates continuing to work with the FWC.
Commissioners also learned from staff that its five-year-old
Gopher Tortoise Management Plan is doing well in protecting the
threatened species, saving thousands since its inception, and will
continue to improve balancing conservation with the needs of
On Wednesday, April 6, the Commission approved a rule that will
provide more protection for bonefish by:
- eliminating the one-fish daily recreational bag limit for
bonefish and instead make bonefish a catch-and-release fishery
- specifying that bonefish may be targeted with hook and line
- allowing the temporary possession of bonefish for photographs
and to document a possible record catch;
- creating a tournament exemption permit to allow temporary
possession and transport of bonefish for tournament weigh-ins;
- strengthening provisions prohibiting the sale of bonefish.
These rules take effect July 1.
The Commission deferred final action until November on a
proposed rule that would establish three regional management areas
for red drum, raise the daily recreational bag limit for red drum
from one fish to two in Northeast and Northwest Florida, create a
statewide eight-fish vessel limit for red drum, and modify the red
drum off-the-water possession limit and red drum transport
provisions. Commissioners want to review the results of an FWC red
drum stock assessment, which will be finalized this summer.
In other marine fisheries action, Commissioners approved
conditional recreational amberjack and gag grouper harvest season
rules for Gulf of Mexico state waters that would be consistent with
pending rules in Gulf federal waters. The rules would
establish an annual June 1 through July 31 closed recreational
harvest season for amberjack in Gulf state waters.
The rules would also create a 2011 closed gag grouper
recreational harvest season in Gulf state waters, except Monroe
County waters, from June 1 through the end of this year;
however, there would be an open gag grouper recreational harvest
season in these waters from Sept. 16 through Nov. 15 this year
only. These harvest season rules are contingent upon federal
approval of Gulf amberjack and gag grouper harvest season
Commissioners also proposed draft rules to further protect
permit, Florida pompano and African pompano by expanding their
protection to offshore federal waters beyond Florida state waters,
where the fish currently aren't protected, and by creating separate
conservation-management strategies for these species.
Some of the key proposals for permit include creating a Special
Permit Zone in South Florida waters and a three-month closed
season, and adjusting size and bag limits. The proposals would also
modify certain Florida and African pompano rules. A final
public hearing on these proposed draft rules will take place in
In addition, the Commission proposed a draft rule that would
extend the FWC's stone crab management rules to offshore federal
waters beyond Florida state waters. A final public hearing on
this rule proposal will be in June. Commissioners also
directed staff to develop possible modifications to spotted
seatrout rules, including recreational and commercial bag and size
limits and harvest seasons, and they received updates on various
federal fisheries management issues.
FWC staff and Commissioners discussed the anchoring and mooring
pilot program on Wednesday. They decided to move forward with the
previously proposed St. Augustine and Martin County pilot program
sites, contingent upon the issuance of permits.
Also on Wednesday, the Commission recognized FWC Officer Marc
Shea of Naples for taking extra steps beyond his law-enforcement
duties to educate the public about wildlife laws. That kind of
commitment earned him the Shikar-Safari Officer of the Year Award
at the meeting. FWC Boating Access Coordinator Pat Harrell of
Tallahassee received a Marine Advocate of the Year award Wednesday
from the Marine Industries Association of Palm Beach County Inc.
This was for protecting and supporting sound growth of the marine
industry in Palm Beach County.
The FWC also recognized Jacksonville artist C. Ford Riley for
his contributions to the conservation of wildlife and their
habitats through his paintings.
The next Commission meeting is June 8-9 in St. Augustine.
To see the
full agenda, go to MyFWC.com/Commission.