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April, 2011 Commission Meeting

Time: 8:30am each day
Dates: April 6 - 7, 2011
Place: Florida Public Safety Institute Pat Thomas Law Enforcement Academy 215 Academy Drive Havana, FL 32333 Phone: 850-201-7964

This meeting is open to the public

All interested individuals may speak at workshops or meetings of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (Commission) within the guidelines established by the Commission.  To ensure the public's opportunity to be heard and the orderly conduct of the meeting, the Chairman reserves the right to establish a time for adjournment of the workshop or meeting, to limit the time for speakers, and to limit the time allotted for specific agenda items.

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 meeting may include fact-finding field trips to Commission-managed areas or facilities; or to other areas to learn about management, and enforcement activities.

Typically, the Chairman may ask staff and the public to work through lunch on either day.  Please plan accordingly.

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 Tallahassee Visitors Guide at 850-606-2305 or visit their website at www.visittallahassee.com

Agenda

8:30 a.m., Wednesday, April 6

  1. Meeting Opening
    1. Call to Order
    2. Invocation and Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag
    3. Recognitions
      1. Officer Marc Shea with the FWC's Division of Law Enforcement, South Region and recipient of the Shikar-Safari Officer of the Year Award
      2. C. Ford Riley, renowned local artist
      3. Recognition of Law Enforcement employee, recipient of the 2011 Beacon of Light Award
    4. Introduction of Commission employees
  2. Adoption of Agenda 
    1. Review and Approval of February 23-24, 2011, Commission Meeting Minutes
    2. Approval of Agenda
  3. Executive Director's Report
  4. Items Requiring Action
    1. Fishery Management Council Updates
      1. Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (GMFMC) (Report Presentation)

        Staff will update the Commission on the greater amberjack recreational season, stone crab management, gag and red grouper management, and gag interim rule.  Staff will report on other GMFMC actions.
      2. South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) (Report Presentation)

        Staff will update the Commission on the development of regulatory amendments that are being prepared for final approval in June 2011.  These amendments could result in changes to federal management regulations for spiny lobster, king and Spanish mackerel, cobia, black sea bass, golden tilefish, black grouper, dolphin and wahoo.  Specific management measures being considered for the above species will be highlighted where direction to staff may be warranted.  Staff will report on other SAFMC actions from its March 7-11, 2011 meeting in St. Simon's Island, Georgia.
    2. Final Rules
      1. Bonefish - In order to recognize the importance of bonefish as one of Florida's premier gamefish, the Commission will consider rule modifications that would make bonefish a catch-and release-only fishery and allow temporary possession of bonefish for photographs, measuring, and weighing.  The proposed final rule would also create a permit for tournaments that would allow tournament anglers to temporarily possess and transport bonefish to a weigh-in.  The proposed final rule would modify the Commission's bonefish rule as follows: (Bonefish Presentation)
        1. 68B-34.002, Definitions - The proposed rule would add definitions for "organized tournament", "person", and "target."  The definition of "harvest" would be modified to remove an allowance for temporary possession of a fish for measuring to determine compliance with size limits.  Definitions of "land" and "total length" would be removed.  Additionally, staff recommends amending the proposed rule as advertised to remove a reference to established bag limits in the definition of "harvest for commercial purposes."
        2. 68B-34.003, Bonefish Size Limit; Bag and Possession Limits; Exception, Gear Restriction - The proposed final rule would modify this section to eliminate the size, harvest, and possession limits for bonefish.  The requirement for bonefish to be landed in whole condition would also be removed.  The proposed rule would only allow bonefish to be targeted with hook and line gear.  This would make bonefish a catch-and-release-only fishery.
        3. 68B-34.004, Temporary Possession of Bonefish (NEW) - This section would be created as part of the proposed final rule to allow for temporary possession of bonefish in state and adjacent federal waters for purposes of photographing, measuring, and weighing at the site of capture.  This change would allow anglers to try for a world or state record outside participating in a tournament.  A temporary possession limit of one bonefish per person at any one time is proposed.  The proposed rule would require bonefish to be immediately released free, alive, and unharmed, but would allow anglers to photograph, measure, and weigh bonefish at the site of capture prior to release.
        4. 68B-34.005, Bonefish Tournaments, Exemptions (NEW) - The proposed final rule would add this new section to the bonefish rule to create a tournament exemption permit that may be issued to the director of an organized catch-and-release tournament in which bonefish are temporarily possessed and transported to a certified scale for a tournament.  Bonefish would still be released, but tournament anglers could bring bonefish to tournament check-in stations for weigh-in.  This section would outline permit conditions and application criteria, including temporary possession limits of one bonefish per person and no more than two bonefish per vessel live well and holding tank specifications, and reporting requirements.  An application form for the tournament exemption permit would also be created.  The proposed rule would also allow FWC staff to collect research data and conduct monitoring during tournaments as a condition of the tournament exemption permit.  At the request of stakeholders and Commissioners, staff also recommends removing language from the draft rule that states that violations of the conditions and requirements specified within the tournament exemption permit are considered a violation of the bonefish rule.
      2. Red Drum - A recent reevaluation of the red drum stock assessment was performed to assess the status of the stock in each of the spotted seatrout regions.  Results indicated that red drum in the two northern regions are exceeding the management goal.  Thus, the proposal will relax the regulations in these regions.  The proposed final rules would modify the Commission's rule for the red drum fishery as follows: (Red Drum Presentation)
        1. 68B-22.002, Definitions - The proposed final rule would create three regions for red drum management in Florida with the same boundaries as the spotted seatrout regions.  Florida would be divided into northwest, northeast, and south regions.  The boundaries of these regions would be defined in this section.
        2. 68B-22.005, Bag and Possession Limits; Sale Prohibited - The proposed final rule would increase the bag limit from one to two fish in the northeast and northwest regions of the state.  The proposed final rule would also establish a statewide vessel limit of eight fish for red drum and modify the off-water possession limit language.  Staff also recommends adding a transport possession limit to limit the number of fish that can be transported on land from a fishing site.
        3. 68B-22.006, Other Prohibitions; Applicability - Staff recommends amending the rule to prohibit the simultaneous possession of gill nets and red drum anywhere, instead of only aboard a vessel.
      3. Gulf Gag Grouper - Adoption of federal standards - The proposed rule would close recreational Gulf gag grouper harvest from June 1 through the end of 2011, with the exception of a September 16 - November 15 open season.  This closure would achieve consistency between the Commission's gag grouper rule and recent interim federal action in Gulf of Mexico federal waters.  This action would allow for some recreational harvest of gag grouper in federal waters and some harvest in state waters by federally-permitted for-hire vessels in 2011 that otherwise would not occur.  If the 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 a rule identical to a federal regulation without further hearing.  The proposed rule would modify the Commission's reef fish rule as follows: (Gulf Gag Grouper Rule Presentation)
        1. 68B-14. 0039 Recreational Grouper Seasons - This section would be modified to close recreational Gulf of Mexico gag grouper harvest from June 1 through September 15, 2011 and November 16, through December 31, 2011.  These closures would occur in 2011 only and would be consistent with recent federal action.
      4. Gulf Amberjack - The proposed rule would create an annual closed season for Gulf of Mexico greater amberjack from June 1 through July 31.  This closure would achieve consistency between the Commission's amberjack rule and regulations in Gulf of Mexico federal waters.  A consistent amberjack closed season in Gulf state waters would contribute to the federal rebuilding plan, reduce the likelihood of exceeding the federal recreational quota, and help avoid in-season quota closures for amberjack.  If the 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 a rule identical to a federal regulation without further hearing.  The proposed rule would modify the Commission's reef fish rule as follows: (Gulf Amberjack Rule Presentation)
        1. 68B-14. 004 Recreational Amberjack Season - (NEW) This section would be created to establish a closed season for Gulf of Mexico amberjack harvest from June 1 through July 31 each year.  This closure would be consistent with recent federal action.
    3. Draft Rules
      1. Permit, Florida pompano, African pompano - In order to give permit, Florida pompano, and African pompano more protection and increase the enforceability of the Commission's current rule, extension of current state waters regulations into federal waters, where these species are currently unregulated, is being proposed along with several modifications.  The proposed draft rules would create separate management strategies for permit, Florida pompano, and African pompano.  Technical modifications are also proposed to simplify the current rule language.  The proposed draft rules would modify the Commission's rule for permit, Florida pompano, and African pompano rule as follows: (Permit and Pompano Presentation)
        1. 68B-35.002, Definitions - The proposed draft rule would add definitions for harvest for commercial purposes, person, recreational harvester, spearing, and snagging, and define the Special Permit Zone (SPZ) where special permit regulations apply.  The SPZ would include state and federal waters lying south of a line running due east from Cape Florida at 25°40' North Latitude, waters of Biscayne Bay south of Rickenbacker Causeway, and waters south of a line just south of Cape Romano at 25°50' North Latitude running west through federal waters and running east to the mainland.
        2. 68B-35.003, Size and Bag Limits; Prohibition of Sale - The proposed draft rule would extend current size regulations for commercial harvesters of permit and Florida pompano and for recreational and commercial harvesters of African pompano into adjacent federal waters.  It would also prohibit the possession of any permit or Florida pompano with a fork length greater than 20 inches on commercial vessels in all waters.  The proposed draft rule would establish a minimum size of 22 inches for recreational permit harvest inside the SPZ, and a slot size of 11-22 inches for recreational permit harvest in all waters outside the SPZ.  The proposed draft rule would replace the recreational slot of 11-20 inches for Florida pompano with a minimum size limit of 11 inches.  As a technical fix, the bag limit language in this section would be moved into a newly created section of the rule.
        3. 68B-35.0035, Bag Limits (NEW) - The proposed draft rule would establish this new section to define bag limits for permit, Florida pompano, and African pompano.  As a technical fix, the bag limits from all the other portions of this rule would be moved to this new section.  The proposed draft rule would maintain a recreational bag limit of 6 Florida pompano per person for all waters.  This bag limit would no longer include permit.  The proposed draft rule would extend the current commercial bag limit of 250 Florida pompano to federal waters.  It would also establish a recreational bag limit of 1 permit per person, with a vessel maximum of 2 permit, inside the SPZ.  Also, it would prohibit captain and crew of for-hire vessels from keeping permit.  Outside the SPZ, the recreational bag limit for permit would be 2 per person, including 1 allowed over 22 inches, and a vessel limit of 2 permit over 22 inches.  Inside the SPZ, commercial harvest of permit would be prohibited.  The proposed draft rule would prohibit all directed commercial harvest of permit in all waters, but establish an incidental bycatch allowance of 100 permit for commercial harvesters legally targeting other species with gill nets in federal waters only outside of the SPZ.  The proposed draft rule would also extend the 2 fish bag limit for African pompano for all harvesters into federal waters.
        4. 68B-35.004, Gear Specifications and Prohibited Gear - The proposed draft rule would extend the current allowable recreational and commercial gears for Florida pompano into federal waters.  The allowable gear for permit in all state waters would continue to be hook and line only.  The allowable gears for permit in all federal waters would be hook and line and spearing.  For African pompano, hook and line would continue to be the only allowable gear in state waters, but spearing would also be allowed for recreational and commercial harvest in federal waters.   As a technical fix, the pompano endorsement zone boundaries and gear language would be moved to another section of the rule.
        5. 68B-35.005, Commercial Pompano Harvest Requirements: Pompano Endorsement Criteria; State and Federal Waters Pompano Daily Harvest Limits and License Requirements for Sale or Purchase - The proposed draft rule would allow pompano endorsement holders to incidentally harvest permit while targeting Florida pompano in the pompano endorsement zone using the current allowable gears for Florida pompano, including gill nets.  As a technical fix, the proposed draft rule would add Florida pompano endorsement gear language and zone boundaries to this part of the rule, clarify that zone possession restriction for Florida pompano would now include permit, clarify the language on zone boundaries and landing requirements, and rename this section of the rule.  As a technical fix, the pompano commercial bag limit language in this section would be moved into a newly created section of the rule.
        6. 68B- 35.006, Closed Season (NEW) - The proposed draft rule would establish a closed season for permit harvest inside the SPZ during the months of May, June and July.
      2. Stone Crab Extension of State Rules into Federal Waters - The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council's (Council) is in the process of repealing its Fishery Management Plan (FMP) and transferring the management of this fishery to Florida.  Based on Commission direction, Florida agreed to manage the fishery in both state and federal waters.  In order to take over the management of this fishery the current Florida stone crab regulations must be extended into federal waters.  This extension should occur prior to the removal of the FMP to prevent loss of regulations in federal waters.  The proposed draft rule would modify the Commission's rule for stone crab as follows: (Stone Crab Presentation)
        1. 68B-13.001. Extension of Stone Crab Rules in Absence of Federal Regulations. (NEW) - This newly created section would extend our state rules into federal waters in the absence of any regulations of stone crab in federal waters.
        2. 68B-13.010, Stone Crab Trap Limitation Program - The proposed draft rule would remove a reference to a federal form that will no longer be required because of the repeal of the federal FMP.
        3. 68B-13.011, Prohibitions - The proposed draft rule would remove a reference to a federal tag requirement.
    4. Anchoring and Mooring Pilot Program - Per Florida Statute 327.4105, the Commission shall select locations for a pilot program prior to July 1, 2011. At the February 23-24, 2011 meeting, sites for the west coast and Monroe County were selected. Staff will make recommendations for locations on the east coast of the state at this meeting. (Anchoring and Mooring Pilot Program Presentation)
  5. Staff Report
    1. Review and discussion of the 2010 Florida Spotted Seatrout Stock Assessment (Spotted Seatrout Presentation)
  6. Public Comment on Items Not on the Agenda
  7. Commissioner Exchange
  8. Recess Wednesday's Portion of the Meeting


    8:30 a.m., Thursday, April 7, Reconvene
  9. Meeting Opening
    1. Call to Order
  10. Staff Report
    1. Legislative and Budget Reports (Week 4 Session report) (Week 4 Session Budget Report)
    2. Update on Implementation of the Gopher Tortoise Management Plan (Gopher Tortoise Report) (Gopher Tortoise Presentation)
    3. Review and discussion of the Public Trust Doctrine (Public Trust Doctrine presentation)
    4. Update on the Florida Youth Conservation Centers (FYCCN presentation)
  11. Public Comment on Items Not on the Agenda
  12. Commission Exchange
  13. Commission Administrative Matters
    1. Discuss and approve proposed 2012 Commission meeting dates and locations
    2. The next regular Commission meeting is scheduled on June 8-9, 2011, St. Augustine, commencing at 8:30 a.m. each day.
  14. Adjournment


FWC Facts:
Black bears originated in North America, and have been here at least 1.5 million years.

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