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November 2022

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 were due by 5:00 pm on Wednesday, November 23rd. If you would like to provide comments via mail that can be reviewed after the meeting, 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 one (1) hour 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, December 1st. The deadline for registration to speak on items not on the agenda is 9:30 am on December 1st. 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. 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 Bay County Chamber of Commerce at (850) 785-5206 or visit their website at https://panamacity.org/.

8:30 a.m., Wednesday, November 30th

  1. Call to Order
    1. Call to Order
    2. Invocation and Pledge of Allegiance
  2. Administrative Matters
    1. Review and Approve July 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. Shikar Safari Officer of the Year Award

BREAK

  1. Staff Reports
    1. Hurricane Ian Update. Staff will provide an update on response activities associated with Hurricane Ian.
    2. Captive Breeding of Diamondback Terrapins. Staff, along with an external expert, will provide an update on captive breeding within the context of diamondback terrapin conservation, the global turtle trade, and trends in the Florida turtle market. Florida is home to 5 of the 7 currently recognized subspecies of diamondback terrapin, and all 5 subspecies are designated as Species of Greatest Conservation Need. Due to ongoing conservation concerns for terrapins, in December 2021, the Commission approved rules to improve management of diamondback terrapins in the wild. In response to stakeholder requests during rule development, staff has reviewed considerations for captive breeding of terrapins in Florida. It is not currently legal to breed or sell diamondback terrapins in the state. Public comment on this agenda item will be limited to no more than 1 hour.
      Summary Memo | Presentation

ANTICIPATED LUNCH BREAK

  1. Items Requiring Action
    1. Budget and Legislative Report. Staff will seek approval of the Fiscal Year 2023/2024 Legislative Budget Request and Agency Legislative Package. Public comment on this agenda item will be limited to no more than 30 minutes.
      Summary Memo | Presentation
    2. Proposed Final Rule – Gopher Tortoise Permitting Guidelines Update. Staff will provide an overview and seek approval for updates to the Gopher Tortoise Permitting Guidelines to improve gopher tortoise conservation. Updates include adjusting mitigation contributions to incentivize relocation of tortoises to protected areas, clearly defining roles and responsibilities in the relocation process, updates to soft release practices, and clarifying other provisions in the guidelines. If approved, staff will also publish a Notice of Proposed Rule for 68A-27.003, Florida Administrative Code, to incorporate the updated guidelines into rule by reference. 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 proposed rules 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.
      Summary Memo | Presentation | Guidelines | 68A-27.003
    3. Proposed Final Rule – Striped Newt Listing and Guidelines. Staff will seek approval to add the striped newt to the Florida Endangered and Threatened Species List. The final step of the state listing process requires Commission approval of the Species Conservation Measures and Permitting Guidelines, the Species Action Plan, and updates to the Imperiled Species Management Plan to incorporate the striped newt. If approved, staff will publish a Notice of Proposed Rule for Rule 68A-27.003, F.A.C., to add the striped newt to the State-Threatened list and to incorporate the Guidelines by reference. Public comment on this agenda item will be limited to no more than 30 minutes.
      Note: Staff is requesting Commission approval to advertise the proposed rules and file for adoption as soon as possible. If the proposed rules 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.
      Summary Memo | Presentation | Links | 68A-27.003 | 68A-27.0021
    4. Proposed Final Rules – Livery Regulations, Minimum Standards for Mandatory Boating Safety Courses. Recent changes passed by the Florida Legislature to Florida’s livery laws prohibit liveries from offering a vessel for lease or rent without a livery permit (except as provided by law) and require new topics to be covered in livery pre-rental and pre-ride instruction. In keeping with these changes, staff is proposing rule amendments that create specific procedures for a person to obtain a no-cost livery permit (including an application, program guidelines and forms) and implement the new pre-rental and pre-ride instruction requirements. Statutory changes also require new content to be added to boating safety education course curriculum such that a boater will operate more safely after being educated on the statutory content. The proposed modifications to the rule would incorporate these statutorily required boating safety education topics into boating safety education courses approved by the Commission. Additionally, current Rules 68D-36.107, F.A.C. (Minimum Training Requirements for Personal Watercraft Rentals) and 68D-36.109, F.A.C. (Boating Safety Information to be Displayed at Boat Rental Facilities) are located in the Chapter of laws relating to boating safety education standards and would be more appropriately located in a proposed new Chapter (Chapter 68D-34) which would be entitled “Livery Regulations.” Therefore, staff is proposing that Rules 68D-36.107 and 68D-36.109, F.A.C. be repealed and the substantive content of those Rules be incorporated into new Rules 68D-34.002, F.A.C. and 68D-34.004, F.A.C. 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 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.
      Summary Memo | Presentation | 68D-34 | 68D-36 | Permit | Permit Checklist | Certification | Checklist and Attestation | Houseboat | Motorboat | Paddlecraft | PWC | Sailboat
    5. Proposed Final Rule – Springs Protection Zone – Nichols Spring. Staff will provide an overview and refresher on the creation of protection zones for springs and offer a proposed final rule that will create a zone restricting beaching, mooring, anchoring and grounding in Nichols Spring in Sumter County and in a portion of its associated spring run. Staff will also provide an update on the review and stakeholder engagement process, including anticipated next steps, regarding a request for a protection zone within a portion of Weeki Wachee Spring and portions of its associated spring runs. 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 proposed rules 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.
      Summary Memo | Presentation | 68D-24.0036
    6. Final Rule – Reporting Criteria for Injuries and Escapes of Captive Wildlife and Other Requirements. Staff will request approval of final rule language to require all captive wildlife permittees to report all injuries from captive wildlife which results in treatment beyond basic first aid (except if occurring to the permittee or qualified employee); report all injuries which result in serious bodily injury regardless of the victim’s status, and all escapes of captive wildlife. Associated definitions for “basic first aid” and “serious bodily injury” are also included for clarity. These changes will better inform the Commission of injuries and escapes which will lead to improved public safety and management. Public comment on this agenda item will be limited to no more than 1 hour.
      Summary Memo | Presentation | 68A-6.018 Changes | 68A-6.001 | 68A-6.009 | 68A-6.018
    7. Proposed Rules – Hunting Rules for 2023-2024. Staff will present proposed 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. If approved, staff will return to a future commission meeting for a final hearing. Public comment on this agenda item will be limited to no more than 1 hour.
      Summary Memo | Presentation | 68A-1.004 | 68A-9.008 | 68A-12.002 | 68A-12.007 | 68A-13.003 | 68A-13.007 | 68A-15.004 | 68A-15.005 | 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. Recess Wednesday’s portion of the meeting no later than 6:00 p.m.

8:30 a.m., Thursday, December 1st

  1. Call to Order
  2. Staff Report – Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS) Update.
    Staff will provide a presentation and seek Commission direction on proposed regulatory changes for the FKNMS. Public comment on this agenda item will be limited to no more than 30 minutes.
    Summary Memo
  3. Items Requiring Action
    1. Proposed Final Rule – Gulf Striped Bass Regulations in the Lower Ochlocknee. Staff will provide an overview of the striped bass fishery in the lower Ochlocknee River, how vital this population is to ongoing management of the species as well as other hatchery products across the state, and propose regulations meant to conserve the population for its long-term well-being. 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 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.
      Summary Memo | Presentation | 68A-23.005
    2. Final Rule – Goliath Grouper Spawning Aggregations. Staff will present a final rule to reduce potential impacts of catch-and-release fishing on goliath grouper spawning aggregations. These rules would prohibit fishing at three goliath grouper spawning aggregation sites in Atlantic state waters off Martin and Palm Beach counties from July 15 through October 15 each year. Public comment on this agenda item will be limited to no more than 1 hour.
      Summary Memo | Presentation | 68B-3.051
    3. Proposed Rule – Gear Requirements to Improve Survival of Released Reef Fish. Staff will present proposed rules and highlight FWC outreach initiatives to improve survival of released reef fish. The use of descending devices or venting tools can help fish survive their release by reversing the effects of barotrauma, a pressure related injury. The proposed 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. If approved, staff will return to a future Commission Meeting for a final hearing. Public comment on this agenda item will be limited to no more than 1 hour.
      Summary Memo | Presentation | 68B-14.002 | 68B-14.005
    4. Proposed Rule – Biscayne National Park (BNP) Legare Anchorage Trap Regulations. Staff request approval of a proposed rule to prohibit placement of traps within the Legare Anchorage inside BNP, which would protect sensitive cultural resources. Public comment on this agenda item will be limited to no more than 30 minutes.
      Summary Memo | Presentation | 68B-7.008

ANTICIPATED LUNCH BREAK

  1. Staff Reports
    1. Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (GMFMC) Report. Staff will report on actions and discussions from the GMFMC’s August and October meetings. Topics will include king mackerel, 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 | Presentation
    2. South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) Report. Staff will report on actions and discussions from the SAFMC’s September 12-16 meeting and highlight upcoming items for the December 5-9 meeting. Topics will include holistic snapper grouper management, gag grouper, greater amberjack, snowy 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 | Presentation
  2. Public Comment on Items Not on the Agenda. Public comment on this agenda item will be limited to no more than 1 hour.
  3. Future Agenda Items
  4. Commissioner Exchange
  5. Adjournment
    The next Commission Meeting is scheduled for February 21 – 22, 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. Proposed Final Rule – Alligator Meat Processing. The proposed rule amendments to Rule 68A-25.052, F.A.C., would make the labeling process more flexible for licensed processors engaged in bulk processing of alligator meat while maintaining existing strict traceability requirements. If approved, this rule change would streamline the process, which would help Florida’s alligator processing industry meet increased market demands for alligator meat, skinned alligator carcasses, and skinned alligator carcass parts.
    NOTE: Staff is requesting Commission approval to advertise the proposed rule 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.
    Summary Memo | 68A-25.052
  2. Proposed Final Rule – Derelict Vessel and At-Risk/Public Nuisance Vessel Removal Grant Program. Staff proposes changes to Rule 68-1.003(7), F.A.C., which currently provides grant funding to local governments and other specified entities for the purpose of removal from the waters of the State, destruction, and disposal of derelict vessels. Due to recent changes in statute, the rule, which includes Guidelines and an Application incorporated by reference, will be changed to allow the use of the same grant funding for the removal from the waters of the State, destruction, and disposal of vessels which have been declared a public nuisance in accordance with section 327.73(1)(aa), F.S., in addition to derelict vessels.
    NOTE: Staff is requesting Commission approval to advertise the proposed rule 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.
    Summary Memo | Application | Grant Guidelines | 68-1.003D
  3. Proposed Final Rule – Florida Boating Improvement Program Grants. The proposed changes to Rule 68-1.003(9), F.A.C. will include the adoption by reference of updated guidelines for Florida Boating Improvement Program grants. The guidelines have been rewritten to provide more detailed information on the application process and scoring criteria to assist applicants in producing competitive, high quality grant applications.
    NOTE: Staff is requesting Commission approval to advertise the proposed rule 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.
    Summary Memo | Grant Guidelines | 68-1.003
  4. Proposed Final Rule – Seasonal No Entry Zone for Manatee Protection. Staff request approval for a Seasonal No Entry Zone (November 15 through March 31) in the waters within and adjacent to the Florida Power & Light Cape Canaveral Energy Center Interim Warm-water Refuge. A Seasonal No Entry Zone will restrict vessel and human access to this location, providing protection during the winter season to a concentration of manatees that utilize this warm-water site. There is an existing Seasonal No Entry Zone at the power plant discharge area immediately north, and this proposed seasonal zone will provide an additional disturbance-free area for manatees using the IWWR. If approved, a Notice of Proposed Rule for Rule 68C-22.029, Florida Administrative Code will be advertised.
    NOTE: Staff are requesting Commission approval to advertise the proposed rule and file for adoption as soon as possible. If the rule is approved for final adoption, Commission staff will file the rule for adoption as allowed by s. 120.54(3) Florida Statutes, without further public hearing.
    Summary Memo | 68C-22.029
  5. Federal Consistency – Shortfin Mako Shark. Shortfin mako is overfished and undergoing overfishing, and a national and international management program is required end overfishing and rebuild the stock. At the federal level, NOAA Fisheries Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Division has set the current shortfin mako recreational bag limit at zero for harvesters in federal waters and for HMS permit holders regardless of where they fish. In state waters of the eastern U.S., shortfin mako are cooperatively managed by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC). ASMFC has modified their Coastal Shark Interstate Fishery Management Plan (ISFMP) to match the federal regulations. This federal consistency action would set Florida’s current shortfin mako recreational bag limit to match the federal limit in all Florida state waters, allow FWC to adjust the state waters bag limit to match any change to the federal limit, and facilitate implementation of the ASMFC ISFMP. (Note: commercial harvest of shortfin mako in state waters is already prohibited.)
    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-44.004
  6. Proposed Final Rule – Adoption of Federal Standards for Five Species. The purpose of this rulemaking is for the Commission to maintain consistency with federal listing determinations or scientific names for five species on the Florida Endangered and Threatened Species List. Staff will seek approval to update the status of the Panama City crayfish from Species of Special Concern to Federally designated Threatened and to update the scientific names of the eastern indigo snake and three species of mussels: the shinyrayed pocketbook, Choctaw bean, and the round ebonyshell. If approved, staff will publish a Notice of Proposed Rule for Rules 68A-27.003 and 68A-27.005, Florida Administrative Code.
    NOTE: Staff is requesting Commission approval to advertise the proposed rules and file for adoption as soon as possible. If the proposed rules 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.
    Summary Memo | 68A-27.003 | 68A-27.005
  7. Biological Review Group Appointments. Staff propose members of the Biological Review Group for the Florida reef gecko and the Kirtland’s warbler. Biological review group members are approved by the Commission to serve as the species or habitat experts that evaluate the conservation status of a species, as part of the state listing process for imperiled species. The listing process and criteria used for evaluation are outlined in Rule 68A-27, F.A.C.
    Summary Memo | Gecko Appointees | Kirtlands Appointees
  8. February 2023 FWC Commission Meeting Date Change. Staff request approval of a date change for the February 2023 Commission meeting. The new proposed meeting dates are Tuesday and Wednesday, February 21 – 22, 2023.
    2023 Commission Meeting Dates