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February 2016 Commission Meeting

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.

For information on lodging and restaurants within the area, you may call the Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce at (850) 224-8116, or visit their website.

8:30 a.m., Wednesday, February 10, 2016

  1. Call to Order
    1. Call to Order
    2. Invocation and Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag
  2. Administrative Matters
    1. Review and Approve November 2015 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 considered prior to the open public comment section or placed elsewhere on the agenda at the discretion of the Chairman.
  3. Executive Director's Report
  4. Staff Report – Federal Legislative Issue Outlook. Staff will lead a discussion of possible federal Congressional issues that may be significant to Florida, including a discussion of the Magnuson-Stevens Act Reauthorization. Memo | Presentation
  5. Council Reports
    1. Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (GMFMC) Report – Staff will report on actions from the GMFMC's January 25-28 meeting in Orange Beach, AL. Topics include: red snapper and data collection. Memo | Presentation
    2. South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) Report – Staff will report on actions from the SAFMC's December 7-11 meeting in Atlantic Beach, NC. Topics include: various snapper grouper species and commercial harvest of dolphin. Memo | Presentation
  6. Item Requiring Action – Draft Rule – Gulf Red Snapper. Staff will discuss several options for the 2016 recreational red snapper harvest season in all state waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Staff’s proposal is as follows: Memo | Presentation
    • 68B-14.0038 Recreational Snapper Seasons – Applying the 2015 season structure for 2016 would result in a 2016 season that is 65 days and open May 28 through July 12 plus Labor Day and all Saturdays and Sundays in September and October. To maintain fishing opportunities for 2016 while approximating last year’s season structure, staff recommends the Commission consider setting the 2016 season to begin the Saturday before Memorial Day through July 10, and reopening for Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays in September and October, plus Labor Day.
  7. Items Requiring Action
    1. Federal Consistency – Gulf gag and black grouper. The proposed rule amendment would increase the recreational size limit for Gulf gag and black grouper and set the recreational harvest season for gag grouper in all state waters of the Gulf of Mexico (excluding state waters of Monroe, Franklin, Wakulla, Jefferson, and Taylor counties). The proposed rule amendments are consistent with pending rules for Gulf federal waters. The proposed rule would modify the Commission's reef fish rule as follows: Memo | Presentation
      • 68B-14.0035. Size Limits: Amberjack, Black Sea Bass, Gray Triggerfish, Grouper, Hogfish, Red Porgy, Snapper. – The proposed rule amendment would increase the minimum size limit for recreational harvest of gag and black grouper in state waters of the Gulf of Mexico (excluding Monroe County) from 22 to 24 inches total length.
      • 68B-14.0039(1)(a), Recreational Grouper Seasons - The proposed rule amendment would set the recreational harvest season for gag grouper in all state waters of the Gulf of Mexico, except in state waters of Monroe, Franklin, Wakulla, Jefferson, and Taylor counties, to be June 1 through December 31 each year. Recreational harvest would be prohibited January 1 through May 31 each year.
      Note: 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.
    2. Final Rule – Dwarf Seahorse. The dwarf seahorse is managed as part of the Marine Life (tropical ornamental/aquarium) fishery. NOAA fisheries has received a petition to list the dwarf seahorse under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and is currently conducting a status review for this species. A preliminary evaluation of FWRI’s available data suggests that the dwarf seahorse could benefit from additional conservation measures. While harvest in Florida is already regulated, reducing and maintaining low harvest would ensure the long term viability of the species and improve the condition of the population. The effectiveness of fishery regulations is an important factor that NOAA Fisheries would consider in determining whether the species needs federal protection under the ESA. Memo | Notice of Proposed Rule | Presentation
      • 68B-42.0036 Closed Areas – The proposed final rule would prohibit harvest of the dwarf seahorse north of a line extending due west from the Anclote Key State Park lighthouse near Tarpon Springs on the Gulf coast and north of a line extending due east of the Jupiter Inlet lighthouse in Palm Beach County on the Atlantic coast.
      • 68B-42.005 Recreational Bag Limit, Recreational Closed Season– The proposed final rule would:
        1. Reduce the recreational bag limit for seahorse species from 5 of each species per person to 5 total seahorses per person (within the 20-organism aggregate limit including all Marine Life species).
        2. Provide for a season closure once the dwarf seahorse commercial quota is projected to be met.
      • 68B-42.006 Commercial Season, Harvest Limits– The proposed final rule would:
        1. Reduce the daily commercial trip limit from 400 dwarf seahorses to 200 per person or per vessel (whichever is less).
        2. Create an annual commercial harvest quota of 25,000 individual dwarf seahorses. The fishery would be closed when the quota is projected to be met and remain closed until the start of the following fishing year (October 1).
  8. Annual Workplan – Staff will request approval of a work plan for agenda items that are proposed to be brought forward to the Commission during the 2016-2017 Fiscal Year. Memo | Presentation
  9. Staff Report – Red Drum Stock Assessment. Staff will present an overview of the 2015 Florida red drum stock assessment. The assessment analyzed data through 2013 in order to determine the stock status of red drum in Florida's four management regions. Memo | Presentation
  10. Public Comment on Items Not on the Agenda
  11. Commissioner Exchange
  12. Recess Wednesday's Portion of the Meeting

    8:30 a.m., Thursday, February 11, Reconvene

  13. Call to Order
  14. Partnership Updates
    1. Fish and Wildlife Foundation of Florida Update
    2. Upland Ecosystem Restoration Project Update
  15. Strategic Follow-Up
    1. Private Lands Innovation Update. During the June 2014 Commission Meeting, FWC Commissioners discussed current and future fish and wildlife conservation opportunities associated with private lands in Florida. The discussion identified important elements of successful conservation partnerships with private landowners. Since that time, FWC staff have been developing a Private Lands Innovation Strategic Initiative. FWC staff will provide an update on the development of this initiative and current examples from across the agency of staff contributing to the implementation of innovative strategies designed to promote public-private conservation partnerships. Memo | Presentation
      1. Florida Land Steward Landowner of the Year Award
    2. Workforce Diversity. Staff will provide Commissioners an overview on workforce recruitment efforts within the Division of Law Enforcement. Memo | Presentation
  16. Items Requiring Action – Draft Rules
    1. Panama City Crayfish (PCC) Management Plan and Proposed Change in Listing Status. FWC staff will present to the Commission the draft PCC management plan, concepts for permitting, and draft rules associated with removing the PCC from the Species of Special Concern list and adding it to the Threatened Species list. Staff will seek approval to advertise the draft PCC documents and proposed rules. Memo | 68A-27.003 and 68A-27.005 | Presentation
    2. Flagler County Manatee Speed Zones. Review and discussion of staff recommendations for a proposed amendment to revise the existing state manatee protection zones in a portion of Flagler County. Additional zone requested by Flagler County. Memo | Presentation
  17. Items Requiring Action – Final Rules
    1. Major Hunting Rule Changes for 2016-2017 season. Staff will present final rule amendments to revise select statewide hunting regulations, and 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. Memo | Presentation | Notice of Change Rule 68A-15.063 | Notice of Change Rule 68A-9.004 | 68A-9.004 | 68A-13.004 | 68A-15.006 | 68A-15.061 | 68A-15.062 | 68A-15.063 | 68A-15.064 | 68A-15.065 | 68A-17.004 | 68A-17.005
    2. Black Bass Regulations. Staff will present final rules to change statewide and specific length limits for black bass species which were presented at the June 2015 Commission Meeting. The Commission approved staff to continue to communicate and educate FWC staff and stakeholders on the proposed change. Continued public input indicates support for the simplified rules, reduction in the number of specialized regulations, and the shift in harvest from quality-size bass to more abundant smaller sizes. If approved, rule changes would go into effect July 1, 2016. Memo | Presentation
      Management and research staff worked with stakeholders for over two years to review the effectiveness of current statewide and special regulations, assess angler attitudes and opinions, analyze biological data, and test various options by computer modeling. Staff conducted 25 public workshops, met with dozens of fishing related businesses, and collected input from over 8,000 people. Public input was comprised mostly of Florida residents; however, hundreds of non-residents from over 30 states provided comments. These proposed changes are supported by 72% and opposed by 20% of respondents.
      • Daily Bag Limit: All species included in 5 fish daily aggregate black bass bag limit (no change)
      • Largemouth Bass: Only one (1) per day may be 16 inches or longer in total length, two new special regulations on Alabama border waters, and 42 areas change from special to new statewide regulation.
      • Suwannee Bass, Shoal Bass, Choctaw Bass, and Spotted Bass: 12 inch minimum size limit, only one (1) per day may be 16 inches or longer in total length
      • Shoal Bass Conservation Zone: Catch-and-release section of the Chipola River.
  18. Staff Report – Deepwater Horizon. Staff will provide Commissioners with a review of restoration activities related to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, including the recent agreement in principle to resolve remaining claims against BP. Memo | Presentation
  19. Legislative and Budget Update – Staff will provide an update on the status of FWC’s legislation during the 2016 Session and the status of the FWC Legislative Budget Requests for FY 16/17. Memo
  20. General Counsel Report
  21. Future Agenda Items
  22. Public Comment on Items Not on the Agenda
  23. Commissioner Exchange
  24. Commission Administrative Matters
    The next Regular Commission Meeting is scheduled for April 13 – 14, 2016 in Jupiter, Florida, commencing at 8:30 a.m. each day.
  25. Adjournment

Consent Agenda

  1. 68C-22.011, Citrus County Manatee Protection – Citrus County has requested a minor boundary change to the existing zones northeast of Monkey Island on the Homosassa River. FWC staff request Commission approval to advertise the proposed amendment and file for adoption as soon as possible.
    Unless a hearing is requested, staff will file the rule amendment for adoption as allowed by s. 120.54(3), Florida Statutes, without further public hearing. Memo | 68C-22.011
  2. 68A-27.003, Designation of Endangered and Threatened Species Rule Correction – FWC staff request the Commission approve advertisement of corrected rule language to Rule 68A-27.003. In November 2015, the Commission approved a staff recommendation to advertise revisions to Rule 68A-27.003. These revisions included adding species to subsection two of the rule. However, two species that were intended to be added to the subsection were inadvertently not included in the proposed rule language. These species, the saltmarsh topminnow (Fundulus jenkinsi) and Southern tessellated darter (Etheostoma olmstedi maculaticeps), have been added to the corrected proposed rule language. Memo | 68A-27.003
  3. Miami Tiger Beetle Biological Review Group – FWC staff are requesting approval of seven experts to serve on the biological review group for the Miami tiger beetle. This group will use the listing criteria found in Rule 68A-27.001(3) to assess the beetle for listing as a State-designated Threatened species. Memo | Biological Review Group Members | Species Evaluation