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February 2023

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 Thursday, February 16th. 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

To ensure adequate time to address the business needs of the Commission, there will be no more than three (3) hours of public comment on items not on the agenda at this meeting. The designated time for public comment on items not on the agenda is scheduled at the end of day two, February 22nd. The deadline for registration to speak on items not on the agenda is 9:30 am on February 22nd. For items not on the agenda, the Chairman reserves the right to reduce the amount of time per speaker or the total number of speakers. To provide comments on items not on the agenda in advance, stakeholders can find contact information for staff, leadership, locations and subjects at www.myfwc.com/contact. To contact commissioners directly, stakeholders can email commissioners@myfwc.com.

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. To accommodate as much input as possible from those attending, the Chairman reserves the right to designate the amount of time given to an agenda item or speaker(s). 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 or 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. If you believe that you have been discriminated against in any program, activity or facility, or if you need more information, contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at: FWC, Office of Human Resources, 620 S Meridian Street, Tallahassee, FL 32399, 850-488-6411. Or write to: Office of Diversity, Inclusion & Civil Rights, Department of the Interior, 1849 C Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20240.

For information on the area, you may call the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce at (904) 366-6600 or visit their website at www.myjaxchamber.com.

8:30 a.m., Tuesday, February 21st

  1. Call to Order
    1. Call to Order
    2. Invocation and Pledge of Allegiance
  2. Administrative Matters
    1. Review and Approve November/December 2022 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 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 Recognition
    1. Artist Recognition
    2. Landowner of the Year Award

BREAK

  1. Fish and Wildlife Foundation of Florida Update
    Fish and Wildlife Foundation of Florida President and CEO will provide an update on recent activities and fundraising.
    Summary Memo
  2. Federal Congressional Update
    Staff will provide an update on fisheries and wildlife legislation before the U.S. Congress. Public comment on this agenda item will be limited to no more than 30 minutes.
    Summary Memo
  3. Staff Report – Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program
    Staff will provide an overview of the Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program with a focus on the importance of maintaining program sustainability through the use of private contracted nuisance alligator trappers. Public comment on this agenda item will be limited to no more than 30 minutes.
  4. Items Requiring Action
    1. Final Rule – Hunting Rules for 2023 – 2024. Staff will present final rule amendments to revise select statewide hunting regulations and specific area regulations on wildlife management areas, wildlife and environmental areas, and miscellaneous areas to accomplish management objectives and to conform hunting dates to calendar year date changes. Detailed proposed rule language is provided in background documents for this item. Public comment on this agenda item will be limited to no more than 1 hour.
      Summary Memo
    2. Proposed Rule –Skyway Fishing Pier State Park. Staff will present an overview of seabird entanglements in fishing gear occurring at the Skyway Fishing Pier State Park, outreach efforts to reduce entanglements, and proposed rules to reduce severe entanglements and further seabird conservation. Public comment on this agenda item will be limited to no more than 1 hour.

ANTICIPATED LUNCH BREAK

  1. Staff Reports
    1. Imperiled Species Management on the Wildlife Management Area System. Staff will present on the contributions of the Wildlife Management Area system to imperiled species management and recovery. Appropriate land management practices across public lands help provide a corridor of well managed natural communities, increasing connectivity for imperiled species among fragmented landscapes. Monitoring imperiled species is important to ensure that management actions are meeting the needs of the species. This update will highlight FWC’s role and collaborations to improve imperiled species conservation in Florida. Public comment on this agenda item will be limited to no more than 30 minutes.
      Summary Memo
    2. Update on the Nonnative Fish and Wildlife Technical Assistance Group (TAG). The TAG was established in 2021 to promote the ongoing dialogue and mutual understanding among organizations, agencies, and their respective stakeholders regarding management of nonnative fish and wildlife in Florida. At the seven TAG meetings conducted to date, TAG members provided input to the FWC on stakeholder concerns and potential concepts regarding alternative regulatory structures for nonnative fish and wildlife in Florida. This presentation will provide a staff update that highlights the outcomes of stakeholder feedback to date. Public comment on this agenda item will be limited to no more than 1 hour.
    3. Captive Wildlife Updates. The Captive Wildlife Section will provide a summary presentation on captive wildlife rules, industry, statistics and upcoming proposed rule changes relating to wildlife rehabilitation facilities. Staff welcomes Commissioner input on the information provided. Public comment on this agenda item will be limited to no more than 30 minutes.
      Summary Memo
    4. Conservation Social Science Update. Staff will present a high-level update on Conservation Social Science at the agency. People are an important part of Florida’s fish and wildlife systems; conservation social science helps us engage with and understand the human dimensions. FWC’s Conservation Social Science team works with staff across Divisions to incorporate social science research into management and conservation. This presentation will highlight examples of recent and ongoing projects to demonstrate how conservation social science has been applied at FWC. Public comment on this agenda item will be limited to no more than 30 minutes. (This item may get moved to day two or postponed).
      Summary Memo
  2. Recess Tuesday’s portion of the meeting no later than 6:00 p.m.

8:30 a.m., Wednesday, February 22nd

  1. Call to Order
  2. Items Requiring Action
    1. Final Rule – Gear Requirements to Improve Survival of Released Reef Fish. Staff will present proposed final rules to improve survival of released reef fish. Release mortality is a top management challenge for reef fish. These rules would require a descending device or venting tool that is rigged and ready for use on board a vessel when fishing for reef fish in state waters and to require the appropriate use of such device/tool when releasing a reef fish suffering from barotrauma. The use of descending devices or venting tools can help fish survive their release by reversing the effects of barotrauma, a pressure related injury. Public comment on this agenda item will be limited to no more than 1 hour.
      Summary Memo | 68B-14.002 | 68B-14.005
    2. Federal Consistency – South Atlantic Management Modifications for Red Porgy, Snowy Grouper, and Blueline Tilefish. Staff will request approval to modify reef fish recreational limits in Atlantic state waters in Rule 68B-14 F.A.C. to be consistent with pending federal regulations. Proposed changes include reducing recreational red porgy, snowy grouper, and blueline tilefish bag/vessel limits, establishing a recreational fishing season for red porgy and snowy grouper, and prohibiting captain and crew from retaining a bag limit of blueline tilefish on for-hire trips. Last year, the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council approved management changes for each of these species to help rebuild the red porgy and snowy grouper stocks, which are overfished, and help prevent the risk of overfishing for blueline tilefish. 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 rule amendments and file for adoption under the Federal Standards process. If approved, staff will follow the process for adoption of federal standards provided by section 120.54(6), Florida Statutes.
      Summary Memo | 68B-14.0036 | 68B-14.0039 | 68B-14.0043
  3. Staff Reports
    1. Snook Regional Management. Staff will report on the development of a revised management approach for snook that uses multiple metrics and evaluates the fishery on a smaller regional scale, which could better facilitate how FWC addresses local concerns. Public comment on this agenda item will be limited to no more than 30 minutes.
      Summary Memo
    2. Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (GMFMC) Report. Staff will report on actions and discussions from the GMFMC’s January 30 – February 2 meeting. Topics will include management changes for gray triggerfish, greater amberjack, gag grouper and several other reef fish species. Public comment on this agenda item will be limited to no more than 30 minutes.
      Summary Memo
    3. South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) Report. Staff will report on actions and discussions from the SAFMC’s December 5 – 9 meeting and highlight upcoming items for the March 6 – 10 meeting. Topics will include holistic snapper grouper management, snowy grouper, blueline and golden tilefish, gag grouper, and several other reef fish species. Staff will also highlight a potential Exempted Fishing Permit for the recreational red snapper fishery off Florida’s east coast. Public comment on this agenda item will be limited to no more than 30 minutes.
      Summary Memo
    4. Overview of the FWC Marine Fisheries Independent Monitoring Program. Staff will provide Commissioners with a high-level overview of the marine Fisheries Independent Monitoring program, including mission, evolution, and application of program data to assess various issues related to the assessment, management, and impact of episodic events on Florida’s marine fisheries. Public comment on this agenda item will be limited to no more than 30 minutes. (This item may get moved to day one or postponed).
      Summary Memo
    5. Catch a Florida Memory. Staff will present a report on the saltwater angler recognition program, Catch a Florida Memory. This program launched in 2016, and rewards anglers for a variety of saltwater fishing achievements including the Saltwater Reel Big Fish program, Saltwater Grand Slams, and the Saltwater Life List. The presentation will include the program’s most notable highlights and future goals. Public comment on this agenda item will be limited to no more than 30 minutes (This item may get moved to day one or postponed).
      Summary Memo
  4. Public Comment on Items Not on the Agenda. Public comment on this agenda item 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 May 10 – 11, 2023, 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. Final Rule – Biscayne National Park (BNP) Legare Anchorage Trap Regulations. Staff will present a final rule that would prohibit the placement of commercial and recreational traps within the Legare Anchorage inside BNP to protect the sensitive cultural resources from potential damage by fishing gear.
    Summary Memo | 68B-7.008
  2. Proposed Final Rule – St. Johns River Boating Restricted Area, 68D-24.018, F.A.C. A flood zone (an idle speed no wake boating restricted area) currently exists on the St. Johns River in Astor when water levels at the St. Johns River Water Management Area gauge located at the State Road 40 bridge are measured at 2.3 feet or higher. Lake and Volusia Counties have jointly requested an extension to this flood zone, and staff agree with the counties that the extension is necessary to protect public safety. The proposed amendment will extend the boating restricted area 2,035 feet south, from shoreline to shoreline, during flooding. The amendment would further change the rule to measure flood stage for this area as determined by the National Weather Service (when water levels are 2.3 feet or higher measured at U.S. Geological Survey site # 02236125 in Astor). Additionally, the rule amendments will correct references to incorrect water level gauges in other flood zone boating restricted areas along the St. Johns River and will correct the water level at which the flood zone is activated at the Highbanks Boat Ramp flood zone, which is currently incorrect in the rule.
    Note: Staff is requesting Commission approval to advertise the proposed rule 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, unless requested.
    Summary Memo | 68D-24.018
  3. Proposed Final Rule – Florida’s State Wildlife Grants Program Subsection 11, 68-1.003 F.A.C. – Grant Rule. Staff seek approval to publish a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to incorporate updates to the Program Guidelines, Budget Forms and Application Forms of Florida’s State Wildlife Grants Program, which are incorporated into rule by reference. Updates are necessary to remove obsolete language and make minor clarifications. The Notice of Development of Rulemaking was published on December 19, 2022.
    Note: Staff is requesting Commission approval to advertise the proposed rule 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, unless requested.
    Summary Memo | 68-1.003 | Application | Budget Form | Budget Form (NonFWC) | Program Guidlines