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April 2014 Commission Meeting

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 during one day of each meeting. Those who wish to offer comments during this period will be asked to make sure their comments are not related to any agenda item. 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.

April, 2014 Commission Meeting


1:00 p.m., Tuesday, April 15

  1. Meeting Opening
    1. Call to Order
    2. Invocation and Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag
  2. Commissioner Strategic Discussion – Future of Conservation
    1. Wildlife in Florida: Conflict to Coexistence to Conservation – Commissioners will hear presentations and have a discussion on human-wildlife interaction.  Mr. Jim Sterba, author of Nature Wars:  the Incredible Story of How Wildlife Comebacks Turned into Battlegrounds, will share his insight into the increase in human-wildlife interactions and the management measures being utilized to address this issue. Presentation | Presentation Version 2
    2. Perspectives on connecting family and youth to the outdoors – Commissioners will receive comments from Mr. Jim Fowler, a professional zoologist who was the co-host and host of the Emmy Award-winning television show Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom from 1963-1988.
    3. Increasing Participation in Conservation – Commissioners will hear presentations and have discussion on strategic challenges to increase participation in conservation by reaching Florida’s youth and families, and by extending our conservation message throughout Florida’s diverse cultural audiences.  Captain Diego Toiran, host of Pescando en Los Cayos (Fishing in the Keys), will address how he created a fishing sport/marine conservation message oriented towards the Hispanic audience. Presentation | FYCCN Backup Presentation
  3. Public Comment
  4. Commission Exchange
  5. Recess Tuesday’s Portion of the Meeting

    8:30 a.m., Wednesday, April 16, Reconvene

  6. Meeting Opening and Recognitions
    1. Call to Order
    2. Louise Ireland Humphrey Award
    3. Rodney Barreto Employee of the Year Award
    4. Shikar-Safari Officer of the Year Award
  7. Administrative Matters
    1. Review and Approve February 12-13, 2014 Commission Meeting Minutes
    2. Approve Regular Meeting Agenda
    3. Approve Consent Agenda
  8. Executive Director’s Report
  9. Chairman’s Report
  10.  Commissioner Strategic Discussion – Habitat Conservation
    1. FWC Public Land Conservation and Management - Staff will provide a comprehensive overview of habitat conservation in Florida with an emphasis on FWC’s Wildlife Management Area system. Land Management Preseantation

      NOTICE:  Staff will be requesting that the Commissioners AMEND their agenda and take up the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Report (12 A) prior to Item # 11.
  11. Items Requiring Action - Marine Fisheries
    1. Final Rules
      1.  Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper Season - The proposed rule would modify the Commission’s reef fish rule as follows: 
        68B-14.0038 Recreational Snapper Seasons - The proposed rule would modify the recreational harvest season for red snapper in all state waters of the Gulf of Mexico to begin the Saturday before Memorial Day and end July 14. Presentation | Presentation Update
      2. Sea Cucumbers – At the February 2014 Commission meeting, the Commission directed staff to explore possible management alternatives for ensuring the sustainability of commercial sea cucumber harvest and return with a recommendation for a final rule.  Sea cucumbers are prone to overexploitation and many of the fisheries that have developed throughout the world in recent decades have been chara cterized by rapid expansion, unsustainable harvest rates, and fishery collapse.  Commercial sea cucumberlandings in Florida have increased substantially over the last year.  Staff will present two options for management of commercial sea cucumber harvest for Commission considerations and recommend adopting a final rule to establish a daily commercial trip limit and a daily commercial vessel limit of 200 sea cucumbers. Presentation | Draft Rule Language
        1. Chapter 68B-42.006 Commercial Season, Harvest Limits – The proposed rule would create a daily commercial trip limit and a daily vessel limit of 200 individual sea cucumbers.
    2. Draft Rules
      1. Gulf Reef Fish Data Reporting System  – Staff will present a proposal for recreational reef fish data collection that would better define the population of offshore reef fish anglers for survey purposes using a data reporting system. These improvements would enhance current recreational harvest data collection efforts for Florida’s reef fish species, including red snapper. The proposed draft rule would modify the Commission’s reef fish rule as follows: Presentation | Draft Rule Language

        1. 68B-14.002 Definitions – The definition of recreational harvester would be removed from this rule.
        2. 68B-14.009 Reporting Requirements (NEW) – A new rule would be created that would require recreational harvesters to report their intention to harvest or attempt to harvest certain reef fish species in the upcoming year. A recreational harvester may not harvest, attempt to harvest, or possess red snapper, vermilion snapper, gag grouper, red grouper, black grouper, gray triggerfish, greater amberjack, lesser amberjack, banded rudderfish, or almaco jack while  aboard a vessel in or on Florida Waters of the Gulf of Mexico excluding Monroe County, unless that person has reported their intention to do so to the Gulf Reef Fish Data Reporting System . Persons under 16 years of age, fishing from a for-hire vessel, or fishing from a vessel with a valid saltwater recreational vessel license would be exempt from reporting requirements. FWC employees harvesting for FWC business and any person otherwise authorized or permitted by the FWC to harvest for educational or scientific purposes would also be exempt.
      2. Lionfish – Lionfish are invasive marine species that pose a threat to native  marine species and ecosystems.  Three draft rules will be proposed to prevent further lionfish introductions and facilitate efforts to remove these non-native predators.  Harvest by divers using either spearing gear or hand held nets is currently the primary means of lionfish population control. Persons diving by means of a rebreather are currently prohibited from harvesting any marine species in state waters.  A proposed draft rule would create an exception to allow persons using rebreathers to harvest lionfish.  In addition, there are several places in state waters that are closed to all spearfishing.  In the past the Executive Director, in consultation with the Chairman, has issued Executive Orders to allowparticipants in organized, approved events to use spearing gears to remove lionfish from some of these locations.  A proposed draft rule would allow the FWC Executive Director or his designee to issue permits to these types of tournaments or other approved events for the use of spearing gears (in areas where spearfishing is otherwise prohibited) to remove lionfish or other non-native invasive species, instead of having to issue an Executive Order.  Control efforts are also hampered by the possible continued introduction of additional individuals or species.  The third proposed draft rule would prohibit any further importation of live lionfish or the development of lionfish aquaculture in Florida.  Staff will also present a summary of the outcomes of the Lionfish Summit hosted by FWC last October, including the progress made so far toward implementing many of  the requests from stakeholders that were presented at that meeting. Presentation | Draft Rule Language
        1. 68B-4.012 Diving: Powerheads and Rebreathers, Use to Harvest Fish in State Waters Prohibited; Definition; Spearfishing Marine Species in Freshwater Prohibited – The proposed rule amendment would allow persons diving by means of a rebreather to harvest lionfish from state waters.
        2. 68B-5.006 Lionfish – The proposed rules would modify the language in the lionfish rule that references regulation on the use of rebreathers in 68B-4.012 to clearly state that lionfish  may be harvested while using a rebreather. The rule would also be updated to reference the new prohibitions on importation of live lionfish and lionfish aquaculture that would be detailed in 68-5.
        3. 68B-20.003 Spearing, Statewide Regulation; Prohibition Against Powerheads, Bangsticks, and Rebreathers; Repeal of Certain Special Acts. - The proposed rule amendment would create a reference to the new rule (proposed below) that allows for an exception to statewide spearing prohibitions.  There would not be a change necessary in this rule to deal with rebreathers.
        4. 68B-20.004 Exception to Statewide Spearing Prohibitions (NEW) – The proposed new rule would allow  the Executive Director or his designee to issue permits to tournaments or other approved organized events for use of spearfishing gears in areas where spearing is otherwise prohibited.  These permits would only be issued for the removal of lionfish or other non-native invasive species.
        5. 68-5.005 Lionfish (NEW) – The proposed rule would prohibit the importation of live lionfish, prohibit sale of illegally imported live lionfish, and prohibit aquaculture of lionfish in Florida.
  12. Fishery Management Council Updates

    NOTICE:  Staff will be requesting that the Commissioners AMEND their agenda and take up the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Report (12 A) prior to Item # 11.
    1. Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (GMFMC) – Staff will    report on GMFMC actions from their April 7-11 meeting in Baton Rouge, LA. Topics include: red snapper and mackerel. Gulf Council Report Presentation
    2. South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) – Staff will report on SAFMC actions from their March 3-7 meeting in Savannah, GA.  Topics include: various snapper grouper species, dolphin, wahoo, and mackerel. 
      South Atlantic Council Report Presentation
  13. Public Comment on Items Not on the Agenda
  14. Commissioner Exchange
  15. Recess Wednesday’s Portion of the Meeting

    8:30 a.m., Thursday, April 17, Reconvene

  16.  Meeting Opening and Recognitions
    1. Florida/Georgia Quail Coalition
    2. Youth Hunting Program Landowner of the Year Award – John Allen Corry, Jr.
    3. Special Recognition – Florida Youth Conservation Centers Network
  17. Items Requiring Action
    1. Final Rule
      Deer Management Units Zone D – The proposed final rule amendments would establish specific regulations for deer management units and WMAs within Zone D to better manage deer on a local level to meet the needs and desires of the public

      68A-13.0001 Definitions
      68A-13.004 Open Season for Taking and Bag Limits for Non-Migratory Game, Issuance of Antlerless Deer Permits and Private Lands Deer Management Permits. 
      68A-15.063 Specific Regulations for Wildlife Management Areas – Northwest Region.
      68A-17.005 Specific Regulations for Wildlife and Environmental Areas

      The proposed new rules and amendments would relocate zonal hunting boundary descriptions from 68A-13.004 to a new definitions section (68A- 13.0001); include new language establishing deer management units (DMUs) for Zone D; establish DMU D1 as that portion of Zone D located south of Interstate 10 and DMU D2 as that portion of Zone D located north of Interstate 10; prohibit the taking of antlered deer unless it has at least one antler with two or more points in deer management unit (DMU) D1, prohibit the taking of antlered deer unless it has at least one antler with 3 or more points or one antler with a main beam of ten inches or more in length in DMU D2; exempt youth under 16 years of age from these new antler regulations; change the length and timing of the antlerless deer season to include more weekend days; and revise specific area regulations on Wildlife Management Areas and Wildlife and Environmental Areas in the Northwest Region to conform to the new deer regulations. 
      68A-13.004 | 68A-15.063 | 68A-17.005 | 68A-13.0001 | 
      Deer Management Zone D Final Rule Presentation
    2. Draft Rule

      Amendments to Alligator Rules - The proposed draft rules would amend the Commission’s rules relating to fur and hide dealers, taking, possession and sale of alligators and collection of alligator eggs and hatchlings.  Details of the proposed rule amendments can be viewed in background materials for this item. Presentation | Rule Changes | Rule Changes Version 2
      1. 68A-24.004 Fur and Hide Dealers: Operations, Reporting Requirements - The proposed rule would incorporate provisions of s. 379.364, F.S., regarding the reporting, record keeping and shipping requirements of alligator hides and skins of fur-bearing animals.
      2. 68A-25.002 General Provisions for Taking, Possession and Sale of Reptiles - - The proposed rule would incorporate a provision of s. 379.3751, F.S., regarding the number of participants engaged in the taking of alligators and eggs from the wild and would clarify the prohibition of crocodilian products manufactured in the form of a crocodilian less than three feet in length.
      3. 68A-25.003 Taking and Disposal of Nuisance Alligators Statewide - The proposed rule would incorporate provisions of s. 379.3752, F.S., committing to expenditures on alligator marketing and education activities for alligators taken under this rule and would remove the reference to license requirements.
      4. 68A-25.004 Regulations Governing the Operation of Alligator Farms- The proposed rule would clarify the minimum space requirements for alligators on permitted alligator farms.
      5. 68A-25.031 Regulations Governing Alligator Egg and Hatchling Collections on Lands Not Included in Alligator Management Programs - The proposed rule would incorporate provisions of s. 379.3751, F.S., committing to expenditures on alligator marketing and education activities for alligator eggs taken under this rule.
      6. 68A-25.032 Regulations Governing the Establishment of Alligator Management Programs - The proposed rule would incorporate provisions of s. 379.3752, F.S., committing to expenditures on alligator marketing and education activities for alligators taken under this rule.
      7. 68A-25.042 Regulations Governing Statewide Alligator Trapping, Permitting, Taking and Sale - The proposed rule would amend the rule title to replace the word “trapping” with “hunting;” change references to the primary license types issued in support of this rule from “alligator trapping” to “alligator hunting” and “alligator trapping agent” to “assistant alligator hunting;” provide for possible exemptions consistent with other recreational hunting activities; and provide for capture and release of alligators taken under this rule when captured using a hand held snare or snatch hook.
  18. Staff Reports
    1. Potential Expansion of Federal Dove Season – Proposed frameworks and summary of stakeholder input. Dove Hunting Season Expansion Presentation
    2. Exotic Species Coordination - The Division of Habitat and Species Conservation will provide an update on its Exotic Species Coordination Section, including programmatic and structural improvements, goals, progress and future direction of the program. Exotic Species Coordination Presentation
    3. General Counsel Report
    4. Legislative and Budget Update Legislative Report | Budget Report
  19. Future Agenda Items
  20. Public Comment on Items Not on the Agenda
  21. Commissioner Exchange
  22. Commission Administrative Matters

    The Next Regular Commission meeting is scheduled June 17-19, 2014 in Ft. Myers, commencing at 1:00 p.m. on June 17, and 8:30 a.m. each day thereafter.

  23. Adjournment

Consent Agenda

  1. Wildlife Management Area Actions
    1. Disestablishment Order - The proposed order would disestablish the Nassau WMA in Nassau County because the private landowner is removing the area from the WMA system. Disestablishment Order for Nassau WMA
    2. 68A-15.062 - Specific Regulations for Wildlife Management Areas – North Central Region - The proposed draft rule amendment would disestablish and repeal the Nassau WMA. 68A-15.062
    3. 68A-9.004 - Permits for Hunting or Other Recreational Use on Wildlife Management Areas – The proposed draft rule amendment would eliminate the recreational use permits for Nassau WMA. 68A-9.004

    NOTE:  Staff is requesting Commission approval to advertise the proposed amendments and file for adoption as soon as possible.  If the rule amendments are 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. Approval of 2015 Commission Meeting Dates and Tentative Locations