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December 2017 Commission Meeting

Please review the information below as some adjustments in the meeting format have been made since the February 2017 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 at the end of day two, December 6th.  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 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 Gainesville Chamber of Commerce at (352) 334-7100, or visit their website.


2:00 p.m., Tuesday, December 5

  1. Call to Order
    1. Call to Order
    2. Invocation and Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag
  2. Administrative Matters
    1. Review and Approve July 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. Hurricane Response and Recovery
    1. Overview of Response Efforts
    2. Special Recognition
    3. Recovery Status (Displaced Vessels)
    4. Everglades High Water Updates/Ecological Assessments
    5. Actions for Fishing Community
  4. Staff Reports
    1. Nonnative Fish and Wildlife Update – Staff will provide an update on the progress, expansion and challenges of FWC’s Nonnative Fish and Wildlife efforts.  The presentation will highlight Burmese python, lionfish and Argentine black and white tegu management efforts including recognition of key partners.
      Summary Memo | Presentation
    2. Legislative and Budget Update – Staff will seek approval for the FY 2018/2019 Legislative Budget Request.  Staff will also provide an update on the 2018 Legislative Session.
      Summary Memo | Budget Request | Update | Potential Reductions
  5. Recess Tuesday’s Portion of the Meeting

    8:30 a.m., Wednesday, December 6

  6. Call to Order
  7. Awards and Recognition
    1. Prosecutor of the Year Award
    2. Boating Officer of the Year
  8. Executive Director’s Report
  9. Foundation Update
  10. Item Requiring Action – Port Orange Critical Wildlife Area (CWA)

    On November 16, 2016, after a number of Commission discussions and extensive work with stakeholders, the Commission approved 13 new Critical Wildlife Areas and 5 re-establishments.  Though the Port Orange CWA was part of the original proposed suite of CWA’s, it was delayed for consideration based on technicalities related to ownership.  Staff has resolved this issue and is bringing back the Port Orange CWA as previously discussed with the Commission for final approval.

    Summary Memo | Presentation

  11. Staff Report – Alligator Management and Egg Collection on Public Waters

    Staff will present an overview of the Alligator Management Program as it relates to alligator egg collection from public waters.

    Summary Memo | Presentation

  12. Items Requiring Action
    1. Draft Rule – Technical Changes Relating to Live Sale of Alligators.  The proposed rule amendments would simplify and relax the current requirements for contracted nuisance alligator trappers to sell nuisance alligators live and remove an exemption to the experience requirements for applicants seeking a captive wildlife exhibition and sale license for alligators.  To accomplish this, the following rule amendments are being proposed;

      68A-6.0022 Possession of Class I, II, or III Wildlife in Captivity: Permit Requirements. The proposed draft rule amendment would eliminate the experience exemption for persons with licenses issued under section 379.3751, F.S.

      68A-25.003 Taking and Disposal of Nuisance Alligators Statewide.  The proposed draft rule amendment would allow contracted nuisance alligator trappers to sell lawfully taken nuisance alligators to permitted facilities or other authorized persons in a live condition.

      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 rules for adoption as allowed by s. 120.54(3) Florida Statutes, without further public hearing.

      Summary Memo | Presentation | 68A-25.003 | 68A-6.0022

    2. Draft Rule – Regulations for private or commercial preserves and game farms.  Staff will present draft rule language for the operation of commercial and private hunting preserves and game farms which will clarify permitting and facility requirements, reduce ambiguous terms throughout, and reduce the risk of escapes, which addresses disease concerns with captive wildlife being introduced into the wild populations.

      NOTE: Staff will be requesting an amendment to the agenda to delay this item (12B) until a future Commission meeting.

      Summary Memo | Presentation | 68A-12.011 | 68A-12.010
    3. Draft Rule – Proposed Rule Changes for Hunting 2018 – 2019.  Staff will present draft 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.
      Summary Memo | Summary Memo Supplement | 68A-1.004 | 68A-9.007 | 68A-12.002 | 68A-13.008 | 68A-15.004 | 68A-15.006 | 68A-15.061 | 68A-15.062 | 68A-15.063 | 68A-15.064 | 68A-15.065 | 68A-17.004 | 68A-17.005 | 68A-26.002 | Presentation
  13. Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commissions: Historical Perspectives and a Look to the Future

    Staff and invited guest speakers will provide an overview of the roles and responsibilities of state conservation agency staff and commissioners under the Public Trust Doctrine.

    NOTE: The Chairman may take this item out of order depending on availability of guest speakers.

    Summary Memo | Presentation

  14. Public Comment on Items Not on the Agenda
  15. Commissioner Exchange
  16. Recess Wednesday’s Portion of the Meeting

    8:30 a.m., Thursday, December 7

  17. Call to Order
  18. Item Requiring Action – Draft Rule – Bay Scallops

    The Commission directed staff to explore potential long-term changes to bay scallop management.  Based on feedback from a series of meetings with community leaders prior to the 2017 scallop season, the Commission approved regionally-specific changes to the bay scallop season dates on a trial basis for 2017 only at the February 2017 Commission meeting.  Staff conducted a series of public workshops following the 2017 season to gather feedback on this trial season structure and explore the possibility of extending the allowable scallop harvest area into Pasco County.

    Staff will present a series of draft rule amendments to implement regionally-specific season dates for portions of the allowable harvest area on a long-term basis.

    68B-18.005 Closed Seasons for Harvest of Bay Scallops –  The proposed rule amendment would create the following regionally-specific open harvest seasons:

    • 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 only 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 | Draft Rule
  19. Staff Report – 2018 Gulf Red Snapper Season

    Staff will provide a review and discussion of recent federal Gulf red snapper discussions and potential options for the 2018 recreational red snapper harvest season for state waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

    Summary Memo | Presentation

  20. Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (GMFMC) Report

    Staff will report on actions from the GMFMC’s October 2-5 meeting in Biloxi, MS.  Topics include deepwater corals and descending devices.

    Summary Memo | Presentation

  21. South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) Report

    Staff will report on actions from the SAFMC's September 25-29 meeting in Charleston, SC.  Topics include red snapper fishing seasons, red grouper, and hogfish.

    Summary Memo | Presentation

  22. Items Requiring Action
    1. Draft Rule – Permit.  FWC staff have heard concerns that the spawning season closure for permit inside the Special Permit Zone (SPZ) in the Keys 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 spawning season closure are supported by telemetry data that confirm spawning size permit are using known aggregation sites throughout April – July.  The proposed draft rule amendment 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 | Draft Rule | Presentation

    2. Final Rule – Gulf Cobia.  Staff will present proposed final rules to modify the bag and vessel limits for cobia harvested from state waters of the Gulf of Mexico.  In recent years, anglers in the Panhandle have brought forward concerns about potential declines in the population of cobia in the Gulf.  At the July 2017 Commission meeting, the Commission approved draft rules that would increase the minimum size limit, reduce the commercial trip limit, and reduce the recreational and commercial vessel limit in order to provide further conservation of this species until the upcoming Gulf federal stock assessment is completed.  However, staff have received additional public feedback on status of the cobia fishery and differences in how the fishery operates across Florida’s Gulf coast since the July meeting.  Taking this feedback into consideration, the proposed final rules would implement the previously approved bag and vessel limit reductions, while leaving the minimum size limit unchanged at 33 inches.

      68B-19.002 Definitions – The proposed rule would define state waters of the Gulf of Mexico as state waters north of the Monroe-Collier county line for the purposes of FWC’s cobia regulations.

      68B-19.004 Bag and Vessel Limits – The proposed draft rule would reduce the commercial trip limit from two cobia per person to one per person (matching the current recreational bag limit) and reduce the recreational and commercial vessel limit from six to two cobia per vessel per day for all state waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

      Summary Memo | Draft Rule | Presentation

    3. Gulf Greater Amberjack Recreational Season.  The proposed rule amendment would modify the current Gulf recreational greater amberjack season to be consistent with recent changes approved for adjacent Gulf federal waters.

      68B-14.004 Recreational Amberjack Season – The proposed rule amendment would set recreational greater amberjack harvest seasons as May 1 – 30 and August 1 – October 31 of each year.  Harvest would be prohibited in Gulf state waters from November 1 – April 30 in addition to the current June 1 – July 31 closure, each year.

      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.

      Summary Memo | Presentation

  23. Staff Report – Boating Enforcement Statistics

    Boating Enforcement Statistics.  Staff will provide an update on boating safety enforcement.  This update will provide a comprehensive look at the Division’s boating safety enforcement efforts for the fiscal year 2016-17.  This will include water patrol and boating safety hours, boater education efforts, boating accident overview as well as enforcement activity trends and statistics.

    Summary Memo | Presentation

  24. General Counsel Report
  25. Future Agenda Items
  26. Commission Administrative Matters
    1. Executive Director
    2. Elections
  27. Commissioner Exchange
  28. Adjournment

    The next Commission Meeting is scheduled for February 7 – 8, 2018 in Tallahassee, commencing at 8:30 a.m. each day.

Consent Agenda

  1. Draft Rule Amendment – 68A-4.001 General Prohibitions.  Staff will seek approval to advertise an amendment to the General Prohibition Rule.  The amendment will prohibit the feeding of free roaming, non-human primates in order to promote greater public safety and decrease health concerns associated with free-roaming, non-human primates.

    NOTE: Staff is requesting Commission approval to advertise the proposed amendment and file for adoption as soon as possible, as allowed by Section 120.54(3) Florida Statutes, without further public hearing unless requested.

    Summary Memo | 68A-4.001

  2. Listing Status of 4 Species of Special Concern – Staff will provide the Biological Status Reports and listing recommendations for four state-listed Species of Special Concern. Staff recommends not listing the harlequin darter, Homosassa shrew, osprey (Monroe county population) and Sherman’s fox squirrel as State Threatened; removing these four species from the Species of Special Concern list; and directing staff to review the Species Action Plans.
    Summary Memo | Harlequin Darter | Homosassa Shrew | Osprey | Sherman's Fox Squirrel