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February 2017 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 in the area, you may call the Citrus County Chamber of Commerce at (352) 795-3149, or visit their website.


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

  1. Call to Order
    1. Call to Order
    2. Invocation and Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag
    3. Special Recognition
  2. Administrative Matters
    1. Review and Approve November 2016 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. Staff Reports
    1. Federal Legislative Issue Outlook – Staff will lead a discussion of possible federal Congressional issues that may be significant to Florida, including federal fisheries. Jessica Crawford/Whit Fosburgh/Brian McManus/Jessica McCawley
      Memo | Presentation
    2. Goliath Grouper – Staff will provide a review and discussion of the biology and recently-completed stock assessment of goliath grouper. Staff will also present an overview of management strategies that could be considered in the future that could potentially provide additional information about this species in Florida. Memo | Presentation
  4. Items Requiring Action
    1. Draft Rule – Gulf Red Snapper and Gray Triggerfish. Staff will present a proposed draft rule to set the recreational harvest season for red snapper and discuss options for a limited fall 2017 harvest season for gray triggerfish in all state waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Staff will also provide updates on the Gulf Reef Fish Survey and Gulf Council discussions on red snapper and gray triggerfish.  No draft rule will be presented for gray triggerfish at this meeting.  The proposed draft rule for Gulf red snapper would modify the Commission's reef fish regulations as follows:

      68B-14.0038 Recreational Snapper Seasons – To maintain fishing opportunities for red snapper while approximating last year’s season structure, staff recommends the Commission consider setting the red snapper season to be open for Saturdays and Sundays starting the first Saturday in May.  The season would be open continuously starting the Saturday before Memorial Day through the Sunday following Independence Day, then reopen for Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays in September and October, plus Labor Day.  If October 31 falls on a Saturday, the last day of harvest will be Sunday, November 1. Memo | Presentation

    2. Draft Rule – Bay Scallops. In recent years, stakeholders and coastal communities have expressed an interest in changes to management of the bay scallop fishery.  In response to these requests and direction from the Commission at the June 2016 Commission meeting, staff are gathering feedback from community leaders on potential changes to scallop regulations across the Big Bend and eastern Panhandle regions of Florida, with a focus on the economic and business impacts of this fishery.  Staff will review feedback received from community leaders and relevant updated biological information and will present a draft rule for potential modifications to the Commission’s bay scallop regulations.  Staff will also present an update on the 2016 scallop season and scallop restoration project in Gulf County, and will discuss potential options for a 2017 season in this area. Memo |  Presentation
  5. South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) Report
    Staff will report on actions from the SAFMC's December 5-9 meeting in Atlantic Beach, NC.  Topics include: various snapper grouper species and dolphin and yellowtail snapper sector allocations. Memo | Presentation | Presentation (Version 2)
  6. Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (GMFMC) Report
    Staff will report on actions from the GMFMC's January 30 – February 2 meeting in New Orleans, LA.  Topics include: data collection, king mackerel, spiny lobster, and gag grouper. Memo | Presentation
  7. Public Comment on Items Not on the Agenda
  8. Commissioner Exchange
  9. Recess Wednesday’s Portion of the Meeting

    8:30 a.m., Thursday, February 9

  10. Call to Order
  11. Fish and Wildlife Foundation of Florida Update
    Foundation staff will present an update on current activities.
  12. Staff Report – WMA 75th Anniversary.  Staff will make a presentation regarding the 75th Anniversary of the Wildlife Management Area System in Florida and also offer a resolution. Memo | Presentation
  13. Item Requiring Action – Final Rule – Proposed Rule Changes for Hunting 2017 – 2018.  Staff will present final 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. Memo | 68A-15.006 | 68A-15.062 | 68A-17-005 | 68A-09.004 | 68A-09.007 | 68A-13.004 | 68A-15.005 | 68A-15.006 | 68A-15.061 | 68A-15.062 | 68A-15.063 |  68A-15.064 | 68A-15.065 | 68A-17.005 | Presentation
  14. Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) Update
    Executive Director Nick Wiley, current President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, will provide an update on AFWA issues.
  15. General Counsel Report
  16. Future Agenda Items
  17. Public Comment on Items Not on the Agenda
  18. Executive Director’s Report Report
  19. Commissioner Exchange
  20. Commission Administrative Matters
    The next Commission Meeting is scheduled for April 19 – 20, 2017 in Tallahassee, commencing at 8:30 a.m. each day.
  21. Adjournment

Consent Agenda

  1. Draft Rule – 68A-27.003 Rule Revision. Staff is proposing rule amendments due to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) adding species to the Federal Endangered and Threatened Species List.  This is as specified by state rule.

    NOTE: Staff is requesting Commission approval to advertise the proposed amendment and file for adoption as soon as possible. If the rule amendment is 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.
    Memo | 68A-27.003

  2. State Wildlife Grant Rule Update – Staff is seeking approval for minor updates to Subsection 11 of FWC’s Grant Rule (68-1.003).  This rule references Florida’s State Wildlife Grant Program Guidelines as well as a budget form and an application form from 2014. Staff is proposing that the rule reference updated documents from 2017.

    NOTE: Staff is requesting Commission approval to advertise the proposed amendment and file for adoption as soon as possible. If the rule amendment is 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.
    Memo | 68-1.003 | Budget Sheet | Budget Sheet (Non-FWC) | Guidelines | Summary | SWG Application Form |

  3. Final Rule – Bully Nets.  Stakeholders have expressed concerns about increased participation in the spiny lobster bully net fishery and growing conflicts between recreational bully netters, commercial bully netters, and members of the public.  Participants in the commercial bully net fishery have requested the Commission implement an endorsement program and other regulatory measures to address these concerns.  At the November 2016 Commission meeting, the Commission approved draft rules that would create an open-access commercial Bully Net endorsement, require commercial bully net vessels to be marked with their Bully Net endorsement number, prohibit trap pullers aboard bully net vessels, and prohibit the simultaneous possession of a bully net and any underwater breathing apparatus aboard a vessel being used to harvest or possess spiny lobster for commercial purposes.  The proposed final rules would implement those regulatory measures by modifying the Commission’s spiny lobster rules as follows:

    68B -24.002 Definitions – Update the definition of “commercial harvester” as used in Chapter 68B-24, FAC, to include harvesters with a commercial bully net endorsement.  This proposed final rule has been added since the draft rule hearing.

    68B-24.0055 Commercial Requirements – Create an open-access bully net endorsement that would be required in conjunction with the harvester’s saltwater products license and restricted species and crawfish endorsements for commercial harvest of spiny lobster with a bully net.

    68B-24.006 Gear: Traps, Buoys, Identification Requirements, Prohibited Devices – Require any vessel used for commercial harvest of spiny lobster with a commercial bully net to be marked with the harvester’s bully net endorsement number and prohibit trap pullers aboard commercial bully net vessels.

    68B-24.007 Other Prohibitions – Prohibit the simultaneous possession of a bully net and any underwater breathing apparatus, as defined in 68B-4.002, FAC, aboard a vessel being used to harvest or transport spiny lobster for commercial purposes.
    Memo | Presentation

  4. Draft Rule – Boundary Lines Cleanup. Many of the Commission’s marine fisheries rules contain geographic coordinates that define the boundaries of where rules apply.  Over time some of these coordinates have become outdated and are inaccurate for a variety of reasons, including the repositioning or removals of landmarks like navigation aids and piers and natural changes in shorelines.  The accuracy of GPS technology has also improved since many of these coordinates were established.  The purpose of this cleanup item is to correct existing coordinates in rule to match the positions of the referenced or other present-day landmarks using current technology. 

    68B-4 Gear Specifications and Prohibited Gear. The proposed draft rule amendments would better define the mouth of the Faka Union River in Lee County and correct the coordinates defining three water bodies in Lee County.

    68B-31 Shrimp.  The proposed draft rule amendments would correct several coordinates and clarify confusing landmark references that are used to define the boundaries of areas closed to shrimp harvest either seasonally or year-round within Monroe, Collier, Franklin, and Wakulla counties

    68B-35 Pompano, African Pompano, and Permit.  There are two water bodies commonly referred to as Hurricane Pass on Florida’s Gulf coast.  The proposed draft rule amendments would clarify that the Hurricane Pass referenced in defining the Pompano Endorsement Zone lies within Collier County.

    68B-38.003 Taylor County Shrimp Closure.  The proposed draft rule amendment would clarify the boundaries of an area closed to shrimping off of Taylor County by correcting coordinates for which the corresponding navigational aids have been moved, deleting references to navigational aids that have been removed (retaining only the coordinates), and addressing landmarks with vague descriptions in the rule.

    68B-39 Mullet.  The proposed draft rule amendments would correct coordinates that do not match the corresponding navigational aid, address missing landmarks referenced in rule, and simplify rule language for regulatory boundaries within Pinellas, Collier, and Monroe Counties. 

    68B-42.0036 Closed Areas.  The proposed draft rule amendment would better define the portion of the Stetson-Miami Terrace Deepwater Coral Habitat Area of Particular Concern referenced in the Commission’s Marine Life rule and improve consistency with the area’s definition in the Code of Federal Regulations.  This will be achieved by naming three additional coordinates along the existing boundary to more clearly define the area.
    Memo | Draft Rule

    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.