Skip to main content

February 2013 Commission Meeting

For information on lodging and restaurants within the Orlando area, you may call the Chamber of Commerce at (407) 835-2500 or visit their website at

  1. Meeting Opening
    1. Call to Order
    2. Invocation and Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag
    3. Special Introduction - Author, Randy Wayne White
    4. Recognitions - Employee Introduction
  2. Administrative Matters
    1. Review and Approve December 5-6, 2012 Commission Meeting Minutes
    2. Approve Regular Meeting Agenda
    3. Approve Consent Agenda
  3. Executive Director’s Report
  4. Items Requiring Action
    1.  Fishery Management Council Updates
      1. Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (GMFMC) - Staff will report on GMFMC actions from the January 7-8, 2013 reef fish committee meeting in Tampa and the February 5-8, 2013 Council meeting in Mobile, AL.  Topics include: red snapper, vermilion snapper, mackerel, cobia, reef fish gear, and reef fish allocation. Gulf Gag Season Presentation | Gulf Council Report | Gulf Gag Season Proposed Rule | Gulf Gag Season Presentation Version 2

        Final Rule - Gulf of Mexico Recreational Gag Grouper Season - The proposed final rule would modify the recreational open harvest season for gag grouper in all state waters of the Gulf of Mexico, except in all waters of Monroe County, for 2013.  The proposed final rule would modify the Commission’s reef fish rule as follows:
        1. 68B-14.0039 Recreational Grouper Seasons - The proposed final rule would modify the recreational harvest season for gag grouper in all state waters of the Gulf of Mexico, excluding Monroe, Franklin, Wakulla, Jefferson, and Taylor counties, Indian Pass, Apalachicola Bay, and the Steinhatchee River, to begin July 1 and end when the Gulf federal season ends.  This proposed final rule will be modified to include this season ending date, when the estimate of the federal season ending date is available.  The proposed final rule would also set the recreational harvest season for gag grouper all waters of Franklin, Wakulla, Jefferson, and Taylor counties, including Indian Pass, Apalachicola Bay, and the Steinhatchee River to be April 1 through June 30.
      2. South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) - Staff will report on SAFMC actions from the December 3-7, 2012, Council meeting in Wilmington, NC. Topics include:  red snapper, yellowtail snapper, Warsaw grouper, speckled hind, and Coral Habitat Areas of Particular Concern, and data collection. South Atlantic Fishery Management Council Report Presentation
    2. Final Rules
      1. Saltwater Game fish and Sport fish Designations - The proposed final rule would create saltwater game fish and sport fish designations for the Commission’s rules.  Creating such designations would increase the status for some premier fish species found in Florida waters and help Florida market its unique fishing opportunities.  The proposed final rule will include components of each designation.  Saltwater Game Fish Sport Fish Designations Final Public Hearing Presentation | 68B-2.010 NPR Game Fish
        1. 68B-2.010 Saltwater Game Fish and Sport Fish Designations - The proposed final rule would create a new subsection that states the intent of the designations, which is to conserve premier recreational fish species in Florida and enhance the marketing capacity for Florida’s recreational fishing opportunities.  The proposed final rule would create a saltwater game fish designation, the components of which would be no commercial harvest or possession, sale or purchase.  The proposed final rule would also create an elite designation for saltwater sport fish, the components of which would be no harvest or possession recreationally or commercially and no purchase or sale.
      2. Gulf of Mexico Gray Triggerfish - Adoption of Federal Standard - The proposed rule amendment would establish a recreational bag limit and closed season for gray triggerfish in the Gulf of Mexico to achieve consistency between the Commission’s regulations and federal regulations for Gulf federal waters.  Consistent regulations in state waters would contribute to the federal rebuilding plan and reduce the likelihood of catch exceeding federal annual catch limits.  The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council also recently approved a June - July spawning season closure and 12-fish trip limit for commercial harvest of gray triggerfish.  No changes to FWC commercial gray triggerfish harvest rules are needed at this time because state and federal rules require permit holders to follow federal seasons and trip limits when fishing in state waters if federal rules are more restrictive.  The proposed final rule would modify the Commission’s reef fish rule as follows: Gray Triggerfish Presentation
        1. 68B-14.0036 Recreational Bag Limits: Snapper, Grouper, Hogfish, Black Sea Bass, Red Porgy, Amberjacks, Tilefish, Exception, Wholesale/Retail Purchase Exemption – The proposed rule amendment would set the recreational bag limit for Gulf of Mexico gray triggerfish at two fish per person per day.
        2. 68B-14.0041 Recreational Triggerfish Season– This subsection would be created to establish an annual spawning season closure for recreational harvest of Gulf of Mexico gray triggerfish from June 1 through July 31 each year.

          If these two proposed rules are approved (a and b), Commission staff would file the rules as allowed by the noticing requirements of 120.54 (6) Florida Statutes, which provides a process for adoption of federal standards without further hearing.

    3. Draft Rules
      1. Bluefish – The proposed draft rule would update the Commission’s bluefish rule by removing outdated provisions; clarifying that the size limit, landed in whole condition requirement, and recreational bag limit extend into federal waters; and reformatting the rule to conform to the new style developed under the FWC’s 68B rule cleanup process (presented for Commission consideration at this meeting under the rule cleanup and reorganization agenda item).  When the rule was updated in 1995 following the adoption of the Net Limitation Amendment, an allowance for the use of gear which is illegal in state waters was inadvertently left in.  The rule also includes an outdated commercial quota implemented under the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council’s (MAFMC) Fishery Management Plan for the Bluefish Fishery (FMP), which was written in cooperation with Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and South Atlantic Fishery Management Council.  The current quota is updated annually, while the rule references a static quota set in 1995.  The proposed draft rule would also clarify that bluefish regulations extend into federal waters: Bluefish Draft Rule Presentation
        1. 68B-43.003 Size Limit; Bluefish to be Landed in Whole Condition – The proposed draft rule would clarify that the size limit and requirement that bluefish be landed in whole condition extend into federal waters of the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico
        2. 68B-43.004 Bag Limits – The proposed draft rule would clarify that the recreational bag limit extends into federal waters of the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico.
        3. 68B-43.005 East Coast Commercial Harvest: Daily Vessel Harvest and Possession Limit/ Season Harvest Limit; Gear Specifications – The proposed draft rule would remove outdated gear specifications that are inconsistent with statewide gear regulations and the Florida Constitution.  The reference to the outdated 877,000-pound quota would also be updated to allow the commercial harvest of bluefish in Florida Atlantic waters and adjacent federal waters until the yearly quota provided by the MAFMC is reached.
        4. Chapter 68B-43 – The proposed draft rule would reorganize and reformat the bluefish rule chapter to conform to the style developed for Division 68B, F.A.C., during the marine fisheries rule cleanup process.
      2. Division 68B Rule Clean-Up and Reorganization – The proposed draft rule amendments would standardize the format and rule language for a series of marine fisheries rule chapters, creating consistency in the language and the organization of each chapter.  None of these amendments would result in substantive changes to the existing regulations, their intent, or the way they are enforced.  The intent is to clarify existing marine fisheries regulations and thus improve enforceability and public understanding.  Similar changes will be proposed for the remaining rule chapters in Division 68B during additional phases of the rule cleanup process.  In addition, the draft rule amendments would correct an error in the rule language for the restricted species license exemption created for veterans in November 2012. 68B Rule Cleanup Presentation
        1. Chapters 68B-15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 21, 22, 26, 28, 29, 32, 33, 34, 36, 37, 41, 47, 48, 49, 51, 52 and 53 –The proposed amendments apply to the following: Sturgeon, Queen Conch, Hard Clams, Bay Scallops, Cobia, Snook, Red Drum (Redfish), Southwest Florida Shells, Sponges, Sardines, Tarpon, Billfish and Swordfish, Bonefish, Black Drum, Spotted Seatrout, Dolphin and Wahoo, Weakfish, Flounder and Sheepshead, Tripletail, Jellyfish, Shad and River Herring, and Calico Scallops.
        2. 68B-2.006 Restricted Species Endorsement Provision - The proposed draft rule amendment would correct an error in the rule language in order to clarify the circumstances under which a disabled veteran would be issued the restricted species endorsement.
      3. Division 68B General Provisions - The draft new and amended rules would compile a series of definitions and regulations that apply to harvest of all marine organisms.  These definitions and provisions would support the rule clean-up and reorganization process, further reduce confusion, and improve enforcement by extending existing regulations that currently apply to many fisheries to the harvest of all marine organisms.
        1. 68B-2.001 General Definitions (NEW) - The proposed draft rule would standardize definitions commonly used in Division 68B. The definitions in the proposed rule would apply across all marine fisheries regulations, unless otherwise specified in rule.
        2. 68B-2.002 Return of Marine Organisms to Water; Permissible Temporary Possession (NEW) - The proposed draft rule would explicitly allow temporary possession for the purposes of determining the species and size or for photographing the catch.  It would also clarify that aside from that permissible temporary possession, any marine organism caught but not retained must be released immediately free, alive, and unharmed. 
        3. 68B-2.003 License Required for Harvest or Possession of a Marine Organism Regulated (NEW) - The proposed draft rule would clearly state that a person fishing for or possessing marine organisms while on the water must possess the appropriate recreational and commercia saltwater fishing license, unless they are exempt from the requirement. The rule would also reiterate that a restricted species endorsement is required for commercial harvest and sale of restricted species.
        4. 68B-2.004 Recreational and Commercial Harvest on the Same Trip (NEW) - The proposed draft rule would clarify that simultaneous possession of both recreational and commercial bag limits of a single species by a single harvester or by multiple individuals fishing under a vessel SPL on any single trip is prohibited.
        5. 68B-2.005 Vessel Operator Responsibility (NEW) - The proposed draft rule would make a vessel operator responsible for ensuring that the persons aboard his or her vessel comply with marine fisheries regulations.
        6. 68B-2.007 Prohibition of Possession, Transport, Purchase, or Sale of Illegally-Caught Marine Organisms (NEW) - The proposed draft rule amendment would prohibit the possession, transport, purchase or sale of illegally-caught marine organisms.
        7. 68B-2.008 Trap Working Regulations (NEW) - The proposed draft rule would clarify that traps may not be placed in navigational channels.
        8. 68B-2.009 Multiple Hook and Bait Prohibition (NEW) -  The proposed draft rule would extend the prohibition on the use of a treble hook in conjunction with natural bait to all fisheries including those in federal waters when managed by the state of Florida.
        9. 68B-4.002 Gear Definitions - The proposed draft rule amendment would consolidate the definitions for fishing gears previously described elsewhere in Division 68B into the existing gear definitions rule and standardize how those gears and fishing practices are defined.
  5. Public Comment on Items Not on the Agenda
  6. Special Presentation
  7. Commissioner Exchange
  8. Recess Wednesday’s Portion of the Meeting

    8:30 a.m., Thursday, February 14, Reconvene

  9. Meeting Opening
  10. Final Rules
    1. Falconry - The purpose of these rule amendments is to ensure that falconry is continued in the State of Florida.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and FWC currently share regulatory authority and permitting responsibilities related to falconry in Florida.  The Service is relinquishing permitting responsibilities to States, Indian Tribes or U.S. territories with “certified” (by the Service) falconry regulations.  Florida must have certified rules in place by January 1, 2014 in order for falconry to continue in the state.  The proposed final rule amendments would include: Falconry Public Hearing Presentation | 68A-4.008 | 68A-9.005 | 68A-9.006 | Falconry - USFWS form 3-186A | Application for Falconry Permit - FWCDLE 630IV
      1. 68A-9.005 Falconry - This section would be modified to meet Federal guidelines in addition meet the needs of the State and our constituents. Some of the major modifications include:  issuance of permit from FWC only; definitions; increase species for apprentice class (Merlin added based on stakeholder input); criteria for lapsed or revoked permits; issuance to a new resident or visitor to the US; housing on facilities not owned by permittee; section on care of raptors; restriction of the take of American kestrels to the fall season; no take of burrowing owls; take of raptors on right of ways; propagation; exhibition of raptors; release of raptors; establishment of electronic reporting of change in inventory, to replace the current paper reporting system.
      2. 68A-4.008 (1) Taking wildlife on roads and right of ways prohibited – This section would be modified to add the exception for take of raptors from roads and right of ways to the exemptions of the prohibitions listed.
      3. 68A-9.006 Wildlife Rehabilitation Permit – This section would be modified to allow General and Master class Falconers to be able to rehabilitate raptors.  It would also allow for the transfer of raptors from a rehabilitator to a general or master class falconer.
    2. Proposed Rule Changes for Hunting and Freshwater Fishing for 2013-2014 - The proposed rule amendments would revise specific area regulations on Commission managed hunting and freshwater fishing areas and amend or clarify rules to better manage hunting, fishing and public use regarding wildlife and freshwater fish.  A complete list of the rules can be viewed in background materials for this item. Proposed Rules Presentation | 68A-15.062 NPR | 68A-1.004 NPR | 68A-09.004 NPR | 68A-12.002 NPR | 68A-13.004 NPR | 68A-15.004 NPR | 68A-15.061 NPR | 68A-15.062 NPR | 68A-15.063 NPR | 68A-15.064 NPR | 68A-15.065 NPR |68A-17.004 NPR | 68A-17.005 NPR
    3. 68A-15.005 Quota Permits; Antlerless Deer Permits; Special Opportunity Permits  - The proposed rule amendment would allow for a different guest to obtain a guest permit on different days of a single hunt, while continuing to limit the permit holder to one guest per day; allow unused permits to be returned electronically 10 days prior to the hunt in order to receive reinstatement of preference points for those permits obtained through the use of preference points; allow returned permits to be reissued on a weekly basis; and delete sunset provisions prohibiting transferability of quota permits and allowing for guest permits as provided by this rule. Quota Permits Presentation | 68A-15.005
  11.  Item Requiring Action

    Critical Wildlife Area Update Summary - Staff will present a summary of needed updates to FWC’s Critical Wildlife Areas’ (CWAs) establishment orders pursuant to recent changes to rule 68A-19.005, F.A.C.. Staff is seeking Commission approval to move forward with a plan and schedule for updating the CWA establishment orders. 68-1.009 Delegations of Authority to the Executive Director- The rule would be revised to change the date of approval for the Delegations of Authority by the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to the Executive Director. If approved by the Commission, the rule amendment would be advertised and filed for adoption as soon as possible provided no hearing was requested. Critical wildlife Area Update Presentation

  12. Staff Reports
    1. Update on implementation of Black Bass Management Plan - Since approval of the Black Bass Management Plan in June 2011, staff hav worked with stakeholders and partners on a variety of projects.  This presentation will cover updates on habitat enhancement projects conducted with the St. John’s River Water Management District; advances in a communication plan for Hydrilla management within the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes; progress on Lake Apopka restoration efforts; Shoal Bass conservation efforts; plans for a public process to review bass management regulations statewide; and, the successful launch of the TrophyCatch program. Black Bass Management Plan Update Presentation
    2. Deer Management Program – Staff will provide an update on implementation of the Deer Management Strategic Plan. Deer Plan Update Presentation
  13. Draft Rule

    68A-13.004 Open Season for Taking Bag Limits for Non-Migratory Game and Issuance of Antlerless Deer Permits, and Private Lands Deer Management Permits - The proposed rule amendment would establish a voluntary private lands deer management program for landowners or their lessees that provides greater flexibility in deer herd and harvest management and promotes habitat conservation and hunting heritage efforts.  The program would be for property of sufficient size to successfully implement herd and wildlife management measures and to reduce potential concerns of hunters on adjacent properties where management programs differ. Private Lands Deer Management Permits Presentation | Program Summary | Draft Rule Language
    Draft Rule

  14. Public Comments on Items Not on the Agenda
  15. Commissioner Exchange
  16. Commission Administrative Matters

    The Next Regular Commission meeting is scheduled April 17-18, 2013 in Tallahassee, commencing at 8:30 a.m. each day.

  17. Adjournment

Consent Agenda

  1. Approval for Executive Order 

    Saltwater License Free Fishing Days for 2013 - As provided by 379.354, Florida Statutes, staff proposes to provide two free fishing days for 2013 for taking fish for noncommercial purposes.  No recreational license or permit or payment of license or permit fee would be required to fish on these days.  The two saltwater days would be Saturday, June 1 and Sunday, September 1.  The June day occurs at the beginning of National Fishing and Boating Week, a celebration coordinated by the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation.  The September day falls on Labor Day weekend. Free Fishing Days Presentation

  2. Draft rules Related to Freshwater Fishing
    1. 68A-20.005, Specific Fish Management Area Regulations.  Edward Medard Park Reservoir Fish Management Area is a 770 acre reservoir that will be a positive addition to the Southwest Regional Fish Management Area system.  The proposed rules in conjunction with habitat improvements and fish stocking will provide quality angling opportunities for area residents.  The proposed rules were developed with cooperation of local stakeholders. Working to create Edward Medard Park Reservoir FMA with the Southwest Water Management District and Hillsborough County will continue to strengthen these inter-agency partnerships.  Staff requests permission to adopt the proposed rules as well as repeal current rules covering the Reservoir. Medard EO | Medard Location Map | Medard Location Map Zoom | Medard Support | Medard Park Reservoir
    2. 68A-23.005, Bag Limits Size Limits, Open Season; Freshwater Fish.  Possession of bass over the size and bag limits for TrophyCatch Certification.  TrophyCatch is an incentive based program with goals to document the catch of large bass and recycle these fish to increase the opportunities for angers to enjoy the experience of catching a large bass.  The proposed rule allows participating anglers to be in temporary possession of a TrophyCatch, Hall of Fame bass (13 pounds and greater) over the legal length limit and bag limit.  As part of the Program, TrophyCatch participants must maintain fish in live condition, until certification by FWC staff or their representative.  The fish will then be released in live condition into water body where caught. TrophyCatch
    3. 68A-23.005 Bag Limits, Size Limits, Open Season; Freshwater Fish.  Proposed Okeechobee Boundary Rule.  The purpose of the proposed rule is to address inclusion of two canals and one creek connected to Lake Okeechobee into the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s legal description of Lake Okeechobee boundary.  The new boundary will ensure that anglers fishing in the two canals and one creek or traversing Lake Okeechobee from the two canals and one creek will be subject to same set of rules currently in place for Lake Okeechobee.  The proposed rule will enhance enforcement of FWC rules and eliminate any angler confusion related to the freshwater fish bag and length limits in the two canals and one creek. Lake Okeechobee Boundary | DLE Memo of Support | NPR Lake Okeechobee Rec Boundary
  3. Anchoring and Mooring Pilot Program Ordinance - Stuart/Martin County

    The City of Stuart in partnership with Martin County, have asked for three amendments to be approved for their ordinance. Their original ordinance was approved by the Commission FWC at the December, 2012 meeting in Apalachicola. The three amendments are based on continued dialog with boater groups to clarify the language dealing with safe harbor, proof of pump out, and enforcement of operability requirements. The language of the amendments is provided in background material. Staff supports the amendments and is requesting the Commission approve the amended ordinance. Ordinance Language