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October 2020 Commission Meeting

 

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (Commission) is committed to providing opportunity for public input at each Commission meeting.  To accommodate as much input as possible, the Commission is offering the opportunity for stakeholders to provide their comments in advance.  Advanced comments should be submitted no later than 5:00 pm on Friday, October 2, 2020.  Those comments can be submitted via the 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

Comments are also welcome via call-in during designated portions of the meeting.  For comments received during the meeting, the Chairman reserves the right to designate the amount of time given to a topic or speaker.  With regard to public comment on items not on the agenda, the Commission will have a designated time period on the agenda at the end of day two, October 8th. Those who wish to offer comments during this period will be asked to make sure their comments are not related to any agenda item.

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 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.

9:00 a.m., Wednesday, October 7th

  1. Call to Order
    1. Call to Order
    2. Invocation and Pledge of Allegiance
  2. Administrative Matters
    1. Review and Approve July 2020 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 or concerns 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 at the discretion of the Chairman.
  3. Executive Directors Report
  4. Special Presentation – Industry Roundtable

    ANTICIPATED LUNCH

  5. Items Requiring Action
    1. Final Rule – Apalachicola Bay Oysters. Apalachicola Bay historically supported expansive oyster reefs and a culturally important oyster fishery.  Harvest dropped dramatically in 2013 and oyster abundance continues to remain at historic lows.  In early 2020, FWC was granted funds for large-scale oyster restoration and to develop an adaptive oyster management plan.  At the July 2020 Commission meeting, the Commission supported restoration efforts in the Bay by approving draft rules to suspend harvest of wild oysters and prohibit on-the-water possession of tongs, and by proactively implementing these measures by Executive Order.  Staff will present proposed final rules that establish these conservation measures in rule through December 2025.  Staff will continue monitoring oyster recovery and can reevaluate whether harvest opportunities are available prior to December 31, 2025.  Public comment on this agenda item will be limited to no more than 1 hour.
      Summary Memo | Presentation | Rule Language
    2. Draft Rule – Flounder. A stock status update completed by FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute found that the flounder fishery on the Atlantic coast of Florida is likely overfished and undergoing overfishing and that there has been a general decline in the fishery statewide.  Staff has been gathering public input on management of this fishery and, at the July 2020 Commission meeting, the Commission approved a series of proposed draft rules intended to improve the long-term sustainability of the fishery and directed staff to continue working with stakeholders on allowable bycatch of flounder in federal waters.  Based on additional public feedback and further consideration of the fishery, staff will present a second draft rule proposal for Commission consideration.  Details of the proposal can be found in the background documents for this item.  Public comment on this agenda item will be limited to no more than 1 hour.
      Summary Memo | Presentation | Rule Language
    3. Federal Consistency – Atlantic Reef Fish Hook Requirements. The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) recently modified hook requirements for Atlantic reef fish in federal waters as part of an effort to increase survivorship of released fish and promote best fishing practices.  To be consistent, staff propose approval of a federal consistency action that would implement the same hook requirements for those harvesting reef fish on board a vessel in Atlantic state waters.  This proposed rule would require the use of non-stainless-steel, non-offset circle hooks north of 28° N. latitude and require the use of non-stainless-steel hooks south of 28° N. latitude.  Staff will also present current outreach and education efforts to encourage best fishing practices for reef fish, including the voluntary use of descending devices.  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 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 | Presentation | Rule Language
    4. Federal Consistency –Atlantic Blueline Tilefish. Blueline tilefish has recently experienced overfishing in the Atlantic.  It is most common in federal waters but can be found in state waters off southeast Florida.  To prevent overfishing, the federal Atlantic recreational fishery is managed with a small quota, bag limit, and four-month season, and it is subject to federal in-season closures.  NOAA Fisheries has requested FWC adopt regulations for Atlantic state waters that are consistent with adjacent federal waters to reduce the risk of overfishing and the likelihood of future in-season closures for anglers in federal waters.  Staff will present a proposed federal consistency action to modify the Reef Fish rule (68B-14, F.A.C.) as follows:
      • Establish a three fish bag limit for blueline tilefish within the three-fish aggregate recreational bag limit for Atlantic grouper and tilefish.
      • Set the recreational season for blueline tilefish to be May 1 – Aug. 31 in Atlantic state waters.
      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 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 | Presentation | Rule Language
  6. Staff Reports
    1. Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (GMFMC) Report. Staff will report on actions and discussions from the GMFMC’s September 28 – 30 virtual meeting.  Topics will include red snapper, cobia and other federal fishery discussions.  Public comment on this agenda item will be limited to no more than 1 hour (This item could be moved to day 2 if needed).
      Summary Memo
    2. South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) Report. Staff will provide a presentation on actions and discussions from the SAFMC’s September 14-17 meeting.  Expected topics include a review of the 2020 recreational red snapper season, various reef fish discussions, and other federal fisheries topics.  Staff will also provide an update on the dolphin fishery.  Public comment on this agenda item will be limited to no more than 1 hour (This item could be moved to day 2 if needed).
      Summary Memo
  7. Recess Wednesday’s portion of the meeting no later than 6:00 p.m.

9:00 a.m., Thursday, October 8th

  1. Call to Order
  2. Fish and Wildlife Foundation of Florida Update
    Foundation President and CEO will provide an update on activities and fundraising efforts over the last year.
    Summary Memo
  3. Staff Reports
    1. Budget and Legislative Report. Staff will seek approval for the FY 2021/2022 Legislative Budget Request and Agency Legislative Package.  Public comment on this agenda item will be limited to no more than 30 minutes (This item could be moved to day 1 if needed).
      Summary Memo
    2. Everglades Update. Staff will provide a brief update on Everglades restoration with a focus on projects integral to water management in the Central Everglades and current conditions for fish and wildlife.  Public comment on this agenda item will be limited to no more than 1 hour.
      Summary Memo
    3. Strategic Planning Update. Staff will present a report on FWC’s 2020 – 2024 Strategic Plan.  Public comment on this agenda item will be limited to no more than 30 minutes (This item could be moved to day 1 if needed).
      Summary Memo
    4. Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and Keys Update. Staff will review and provide a presentation of ongoing fisheries issues relevant to the Florida Keys region including the status of issues raised in FWC comments on the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Restoration Blueprint, Western Dry Rocks, permit, mutton snapper, and casitas.  For each topic, staff will provide a brief overview and timelines for next steps.  Public comment on this agenda item will be limited to no more than 1 hour.
      Summary Memo | Presentation | Comments


    ANTICIPATED LUNCH BREAK

  4. Public Comment on Items Not on the Agenda
    Public comment on items not on the agenda 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 December 16 – 17, 2020 in St. Augustine, 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. State Grant Program Routine Amendments to Subsection 11, 68-1.003, F.A.C. Staff will request approval to advertise proposed rule amendments for Rule 68-1.003, F.A.C. to include incorporation of newly updated Program Guidelines and forms used by applicants.  The updates are necessary to reflect a recent reorganization in the Division of Habitat and Species Conservation which created the Wildlife Diversity Conservation Section.  Forms and Guidelines have been updated to include the new section name.
    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 | Rule Language | Application | Review Form | Guidelines
  2. Draft Rule – Delegations of Authority to the Executive Director for Acquisition Agreements up to $1,000,000. Staff are requesting approval to advertise rules to allow a delegation of authority to the Executive Director in Rule 68-1.009, F.A.C.  This delegation will allow the Executive Director to approve acquisition agreements (purchase or option agreements) that include up to $1,000,000 in Commission funding, or when exceeding $1,000,000, are subject to Commission approval.  This delegation of authority will help streamline and expedite the acquisition process, which is undertaken in partnership with the Department of Environmental Protection, Division of State Lands.  Final approval for acquisitions is provided by the Governor and Cabinet.  Lands acquired by FWC are important for the conservation of fish and wildlife and to provide public access for hunting and other recreational activities.
    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 | Draft Rule
  3. Proposed Rule Amendment – Regulations for Hunt Preserves, Rule 68A-12.010 F.A.C. and Game Farms, Rule 68A-12.011 F.A.C. Staff propose expanding limited exception allowances for licensed game farm and hunt preserve facilities to allow more facilities to continue utilizing their current fencing design, which provides adequate containment of game species, but were inadvertently excluded in previously approved rule language.  Also, staff are requesting to modify and align rule number references within the game farm and hunt preserve rules to reflect the recent reorganization of chapter 68A-6.  The proposed changes will align the rules for improved consistency.
    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 | HP 68A-12.010 | GF 68A-12.011