FWC meeting set for Feb. 23-24 in Apalachicola
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Media contact: (marine fisheries issues) Lee Schlesinger, 850-487-0554;
(hunting issues) Tony Young, 850-488-7867;
(other issues) Susan Smith, 850-488-8843
(with links to background reports)
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Commission (FWC) will meet Feb. 23 and 24 in Apalachicola to act on
various fishing, hunting, recreational and wildlife issues. The
sessions will begin at 8:30 a.m. each day and are open to the
public. The meeting is in the third-floor courtroom of the Franklin
County Courthouse, 33 Market St.
Traditionally, the Commission discusses marine
fisheries issues on the second day, but this time it will take up
draft rules regarding red drum (redfish) and bonefish on the first
day, to allow the appropriate number of days to advertise any
proposed marine fisheries rules that would be decided on at the
On Wednesday, Feb. 23, Commissioners will consider
a proposed draft 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.
They will also consider a proposed draft rule that
would make bonefish a catch-and-release only fishery, allow the
temporary possession of bonefish for photograph and record
purposes, and create a tournament exemption permit to allow
temporary possession of bonefish for tournament weigh-ins.
In other marine fisheries action, the Commission
will review a report on a goliath grouper stock assessment and
implications for future goliath grouper management, and consider
various federal fisheries management issues.
Also on Feb. 23, Commissioners will consider a
staff recommendation to remove the Flagler County Manatee Zones
draft rule proposal from the agenda to allow additional time to
develop the proposal.
Another waterway issue - an anchoring and mooring
pilot program - is on the agenda Feb. 23. The Commission will hear
a staff report and recommendations for two locations on the west
coast and one within Monroe County for the pilot program. Under
Florida Statutes, the Commission must select five sites by July 1.
The cities of Sarasota and St. Petersburg are likely to be accepted
into phase one of the pilot program as the west coast participants.
The remaining two selections must be from the east coast.
A mooring field is a controlled area where boaters
tie their vessels to a floating buoy, which is secured to the
bottom of the waterway. Florida Statutes require the FWC, in
consultation with the Department of Environmental Protection, to
establish a pilot program regulating anchoring and mooring outside
of marked public mooring fields to protect public property and
safety and the marine environment against improperly stored,
abandoned or derelict vessels.
Both meeting days begin with recognitions of people
whose outstanding work has furthered the protection of wildlife. On
Feb. 23, Commissioners will honor Apalachicola photographer and
author John Spohrer Jr. On Feb. 24, they will pay tribute to two of
their own: Tim Breault, director of the FWC's Division of Habitat
and Species Conservation and recipient of the Louise Ireland
Humphrey Achievement Award for conservation; and Lt. Anthony "Tony"
Wright, recipient of the Lifesaving with Valor Award for rescuing a
woman from a burning car north of Jacksonville.
The bulk of the agenda Thursday, Feb. 24, focuses
on hunting issues.
That day, the Commission will vote on final rules
that affect hunting on many of the state's wildlife management
areas (WMAs). Most of these new rules would apply to specific WMAs;
however, two affect public hunting on a statewide scale.
One such statewide rule would establish youth
turkey hunts on 78 FWC-managed areas, all of which support adequate
turkey populations, and create a youth turkey quota permit. Fifty
of the 78 areas would require a youth turkey quota permit, and only
those youths who will be less than 16 years old on the last day of
the youth turkey hunt could apply for this opportunity. These would
be two-day, weekend hunts the weekend prior to the opening of
spring turkey season on each particular WMA, beginning with the
The other statewide rule proposal Commissioners
will discuss would remove the one-gun restriction on all hog quota
hunts using dogs.These "hog-dog" quota hunts allow only one hunter
(permit-holder), one gun, one assistant and up to three dogs. An
additional person also may join the hunting party, if a guest
permit is obtained in that person's name.But starting with the
2011-12 hunting season, each participant would be allowed to hunt
with a gun.
Also on Feb. 24, the Commission will discuss
withdrawing the proposal for a tag and reporting system for deer
hunting, as well as continuing discussions on alternative systems
for gathering deer-harvest data.
During the second day, the FWC expects to finalize
changes in hunting dates for the 2011-12 season on lands it
manages. If approved, the rules for these public lands would become
effective on July 1.
These adjustments would align the seasons on
wildlife management areas and wildlife and environmental areas more
closely with the newly adopted zonal season dates that took effect
on private lands last year and with the breeding season and hunter
On Feb. 24, Commissioners may advance a rule
amendment giving alligator hunters four hours of daylight each day
during the annual 11-week season, which runs from Aug. 15 to Nov.
1. Only nighttime hunting is legal now. If Commissioners move
forward with the rule amendment, they will direct staff to
advertise it and then vote on the final amendment at their June
Anyone requiring special accommodations to
participate in the meeting should advise the FWC at least five days
prior to the Feb. 23 meeting by contacting the FWC's Office of
Human Resources at 850-488-6411. If you are hearing- or
speech-impaired, contact the FWC using the Florida Relay Service at
800-955-8771 (TDD) or 800-955-8770 (voice).
To see the full agenda, go to