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December 2021 Commission Meeting

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (Commission) is committed to providing opportunity for public input at each Commission meeting. The Commission is offering the opportunity for stakeholders to provide their comments in advance as well as in person. Advance comments should be submitted no later than 5:00 pm on Friday, December 10th, 2021. Those comments can be submitted using the online comment form. If you would like to provide comments via mail, please send those comments to the following address:

FWC Commissioners
620 South Meridian Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32399

The Commission will also welcome public input in person using the 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 a topic or speaker. With regard to public comment on items not on the agenda, the Commission will have a designated time period on the agenda at the end of day two, December 16th. The deadline for registration to speak on items not on the agenda is 9:00 a.m. on December 16th. 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 Chairman may opt to take action on any agenda item presented, even those listed as staff reports. Agenda items may be re-ordered or moved by the Chairman to accommodate scheduling issues. The meeting may include fact-finding field trips to learn about management and enforcement activities.

If any person decides to challenge any decision with respect to any matter considered at the meeting, they may need to ensure that a verbatim record of the proceedings is made, which includes testimony and evidence upon which the challenge is based.

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 10 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.

For information on the area, you may call the Destin Chamber of Commerce at (850) 837-6241 or find additional details at www.destinchamber.com.

 

8:30 a.m., Wednesday, December 15th

  1. Call to Order
    1. Call to Order
    2. Invocation and Pledge of Allegiance
  2. Administrative Matters
    1. Review and Approve October 2021 Commission Meeting Minutes
    2. Approve Regular Meeting Agenda
    3. Approve Consent Agenda
      Details for all consent agenda items are listed at the end of this document. Any questions or concerns about a consent agenda item should be addressed to agency staff prior to the Commission meeting. Any item not approved as part of the consent agenda may be moved to the regular agenda or postponed at the discretion of the Chairman.
  3. Executive Director’s Report
  4. Awards and Recognitions
    1. Featured Artist Recognition
    2. Shikar Safari Officer of the Year Award
    3. Prosecutor of the Year Awards

BREAK

  1. Items Requiring Action
    1. Proposed Final Rule – Protection Zones for Springs. Staff will present proposed rule language for 68D-24.0035 F.A.C. to create guidelines and criteria for the establishment of Springs Protection Zones in accordance with section 327.45, Florida Statutes. The proposed rule does not create any Springs Protection Zones. Staff will request approval to publish the proposed rule and file for final adoption without further hearing, unless requested. Public comment on this agenda item will be limited to no more than 1 hour.
      Note: Staff is requesting Commission approval to advertise the proposed rules and file for adoption as soon as possible. If the rules are approved for final adoption, Commission staff will file the rules as allowed by s. 120.54(3), Florida Statutes, without further public hearing.
      Summary Memo | Presentation | Rule Language
    2. Proposed Final Rule – Captive Wildlife Permit Requirements and Exceptions. Staff will request approval to modify the rule language in 68A-6.003 F.A.C. to prevent licensees who are being revoked or non-renewed for a captive wildlife license resulting from certain violations from being able to transfer ownership of the animal(s) or maintain control or interest in the business, including continued involvement in the care of captive wildlife. Staff will request approval to publish the proposed rules and file for final adoption without further hearing, unless requested. Public comment on this agenda item will be limited to no more than 1 hour.
      Note: Staff is requesting Commission approval to advertise the proposed rules and file for adoption as soon as possible. If the rules are approved for final adoption, Commission staff will file the rules as allowed by s. 120.54(3), Florida Statutes, without further public hearing.
      Summary Memo | Presentation | Rule Language
    3. Proposed Final Rule – Reporting Criteria for Injuries, Bites and Escapes of Captive Wildlife. Staff will request approval to modify the rule language in 68A-6.018 F.A.C. to require captive wildlife licensees to report all incidents, bites, and escapes from captive wildlife. The proposal will also include modified rule language for technical clarifications and definitions in 68A-6.001 and 68A-6.009 F.A.C. Staff will request approval to publish the proposed rules and file for final adoption without further hearing, unless requested. Public comment on this agenda item will be limited to no more than 1 hour.
      Note: Staff is requesting Commission approval to advertise the proposed rules and file for adoption as soon as possible. If the rules are approved for final adoption, Commission staff will file the rules as allowed by s. 120.54(3), Florida Statutes, without further public hearing.
      Summary Memo | Presentation | 68A-6.001 | 68A-6.009 | 68A-6.018
    4. Proposed Final Rule – Aquaculture and sale of Florida largemouth bass for food. Staff have completed a series of public meetings on this item and will provide proposed rule language related to recent statutory changes in F.S. 597.004 that were coordinated with Commission staff regarding current prohibitions of the aquaculture and sale of Florida largemouth bass as food in Florida. Staff will request approval to publish the proposed rules and file for final adoption without further hearing, unless requested. Public comment on this agenda item will be limited to no more than 1 hour.
      Note: Staff is requesting Commission approval to advertise the proposed rules and file for adoption as soon as possible. If the rules are approved for final adoption, Commission staff will file the rules as allowed by s. 120.54(3), Florida Statutes, without further public hearing.
      Summary Memo

ANTICIPATED LUNCH BREAK

    1. Proposed Final Rule – Largemouth Bass Fishing Regulations. Staff will present a packet of rule proposals to facilitate management of trophy largemouth bass in 4 select waterbodies. The proposed changes are a part of FWC’s Florida Trophy Bass Project and would affect length limits, bag limits, and gear restrictions at Lake Victor Fish Management Area (FMA), Suwannee Lake FMA, Tenoroc FMA, and Fellsmere Water Conservation Area, with the goal of promoting more trophy bass production at these waterbodies. Staff will request approval to publish the proposed rules and file for final adoption without further hearing, unless requested. Public comment on this agenda item will be limited to no more than 1 hour.
      Note: Staff is requesting Commission approval to advertise the proposed rules and file for adoption as soon as possible. If the rules are approved for final adoption, Commission staff will file the rules as allowed by s. 120.54(3), Florida Statutes, without further public hearing
      Summary Memo | Presentation | Rule Language
    2. Proposed Rule – Imperiled Beach Nesting Birds. Staff will provide an overview and seek approval for draft Species Conservation Measures and Permitting Guidelines for four State-Threatened beach-nesting birds: the least tern, black skimmer, snowy plover, and American oystercatcher. If approved, staff will return to a future Commission Meeting for a final hearing on these guidelines and to seek approval to incorporate these guidelines into Rule 68A-27.003 by reference. Public comment on this agenda item will be limited to no more than 1 hour.
      Summary Memo | Presentation | Draft Rule | Guidelines
    3. Proposed Rule – Changes to Hunting Regulations 2022 – 2023. Staff will present draft rule amendments to revise select statewide hunting regulations and specific area regulations on Wildlife Management Areas, Wildlife and Environmental Areas and miscellaneous areas, and to conform hunting dates to calendar year date changes. If approved, staff will return to a future Commission Meeting for final hearing. Public comment on this agenda item will be limited to no more than 1 hour.
      Summary Memo | Presentation | 68A-1.004 | 68A-9.004 | 68A-12.001 | 68A-12.003 | 68A-12.004 | 68A-12.010 | 68A-13.001 | 68A-13.003 | 68A-13.004 | 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
  1. Staff Reports
    1. Gopher Tortoise Relocation Program. Staff will provide an overview of the gopher tortoise relocation program. The gopher tortoise is a state-Threatened species and under consideration for federal listing; the relocation program has been a successful component of the state’s conservation of tortoises for the last 13 years. Increased development in Florida has led to increased need for tortoise recipient sites, and staff will present an update on short and long-term actions to meet these needs. Public comment on this agenda item will be limited to no more than 30 minutes.
      Summary Memo
    2. Manatee Unusual Mortality Event Update. Staff will provide an update on ongoing or planned response efforts for the manatee Unusual Mortality Event that began in December 2020. In addition to enhanced monitoring, FWC is working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other partners to develop contingency plans for rescue, rehabilitation, and recovery. Habitat and water quality improvement projects are underway but will not provide short term solutions for manatee forage. Supplemental feeding is being considered, along with temporary regulations to protect a feeding area if necessary. Public comment on this agenda item will be limited to no more than 30 minutes (This item could get moved to day 2).
      Summary Memo
    3. Alligator Management Program Update. Staff will present a high-level overview of all the elements in the FWC’s Alligator Management Program (AMP). Particular focus will be given to how Florida’s nuisance alligators are proactively managed through the Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program to ensure public safety needs are met while recognizing alligators for their important ecological, aesthetic, and economic value. Public comment on this agenda item will be limited to no more than 30 minutes (This item could get moved to day 2 or postponed).
      Summary Memo
  2. Recess Wednesday’s portion of the meeting no later than 6:00 p.m.

8:30 a.m., Thursday, December 16th

  1. Call to Order
  2. Items Requiring Action
    1. Final Rule – Diamondback Terrapin. Staff will present a final rule proposal to prohibit take of diamondback terrapin from the wild and prohibit possession without a permit, as well as to require all recreational blue crab traps to have rigid entrances no larger than 2 x 6 inches. Changes to commercial blue crab traps are not being considered at this time. In addition, staff will provide an overview of diamondback terrapin conservation efforts, upcoming research related to interactions between diamondback terrapins and the commercial blue crab fishery, and stakeholder input. Public comment on this agenda item will be limited to no more than 1 hour.
      Summary Memo | Rule Language | Application Guidance | 68A-25.002
    2. Proposed Rule – Dolphinfish. Staff will present a rule proposal to modify recreational bag and vessel limits for dolphinfish in Atlantic state waters and clarify that captain and crew are prohibited from retaining a daily bag and possession limit. The proposal includes reducing the recreational bag limit from 10 to 5 fish per person, and the recreational vessel limit from 60 to 30 fish in Atlantic state waters. In recent years, recreational fishermen have raised concerns about declines in size and abundance of dolphinfish in south Florida, and the Commission has expressed interest in taking a proactive management approach for this fishery. If approved, staff will return to a future Commission Meeting for final hearing. Public comment on this agenda item will be limited to no more than 1 hour.
      Summary Memo | Presentation | Draft Rule Language
    3. Proposed Rule – Shrimp. Over the last few years, FWC has undertaken a long-term project to modernize and streamline shrimp regulations. As the third and final phase of this project, staff will recommend the Commission consider a series of proposed rules to address several aspects of this topic. If approved, staff will return to a future Commission Meeting for final hearing. Public comment on this agenda item will be limited to no more than 1 hour.
      Summary Memo | Presentation | Draft Rule Language
  3. Staff Reports
    1. Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (GMFMC) Report. Staff will report on actions and discussions from the GMFMC’s October 25-28 meeting. Topics will include king mackerel, red and gag groupers, greater amberjack, and vermilion snapper. Public comment on this agenda item will be limited to no more than 30 minutes.
      Summary Memo | Presentation
    2. South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) Report. Staff will report on actions and discussions from the SAFMC’s December 6-10 meeting. Expected topics include cobia, king mackerel, and several reef fish species, such as red snapper, red porgy, and yellowtail snapper. Public comment on this agenda item will be limited to no more than 30 minutes.
      Summary Memo
  4. Public Comment on Items Not on the Agenda
    Public comment on items not on the agenda will be limited to no more than 3 hours.
  5. Future Agenda Items
  6. Commissioner Exchange
  7. Adjournment
    The next Commission Meeting is scheduled for March 2 – 3, 2022, commencing at 8:30 a.m. each day.

Consent Agenda
Any questions about consent agenda items should be addressed to agency staff prior to the Commission meeting.

  1. Proposed Final Rule – Jackson Bluff Dam proposed Boating Restricted Area. Staff request approval for a new proposed rule 68D-24.021, which would establish a vessel exclusion boating restricted area on the Ochlockonee River - in Gadsden, Leon, and Liberty Counties - 300 feet down river from the dam (Ochlockonee River side), 300 feet upriver from the dam (Lake Talquin side) and 75 feet from the spillway (Lake Talquin side). On the down river side, this boating restricted area will extend, from shoreline to shoreline, southwest from the dam to approximate GPS position 30 23’19.31” N 84 38’53.38” W. On the Lake Talquin (upriver) side of the dam, the zone will extend northeast from the spillway to approximate GPS coordinates 30 23’28.18” N 84 38’55.98” W then run southeast to approximate GPS coordinates 30 23’20.90” N 84 38’48.73”W then run north-northeast to approximate GPS coordinates 30 23’21.97” N 84 38’46.18” W then run southeast to approximate GPS coordinates 30 23’19.58” N 84 38’43.74” W then the zone will follow the natural contours of the shoreline back to the base of the dam. The resulting vessel exclusion zone will be in effect year-round. Staff will request approval to publish the proposed rule and file for final adoption without further hearing, unless requested.
    NOTE: Staff is requesting Commission approval to advertise the proposed rules and file for adoption as soon as possible. If the rules are approved for final adoption, Commission staff will file the rules as allowed by s. 120.54(3), Florida Statutes, without further public hearing.
    Summary Memo | Final Rule