FWC wraps up 2-day meeting in South Florida
Thursday, December 02, 2010
Media contact: Wendy Dial (inland issues, including manatees), 850-519-4301 Lee Schlesinger (marine issues), 850-487-0554
The Florida Fish and
Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) wrapped up its two-day
meeting Thursday in Weston, where Commissioners dealt with fishing
and hunting opportunities for the public and significant
conservation issues on land and in the water.
The Commission voted Wednesday to launch the next
phase of the Florida Youth Conservation Centers Network. Once
complete, the Network will provide facilities where Florida
children can learn the values and skills associated with life-long
activities such as hunting, fishing, bird-watching and
marksmanship, with an emphasis on safety and ethics. The Commission
has received more than 60 responses to its outreach for partners to
provide Florida children with these opportunities.
The FWC approved a new rule Wednesday reducing the
daily bag limit for trophy largemouth bass at Orange and Lochloosa
lakes in Alachua County. The new rule, which will go into effect in
mid-February 2011, alters the daily bag there to three fish per
day, only one of which may be over 24 inches in total length. FWC
staff sought the opinions of anglers and local businesses, and the
vast majority supported the change.
In the area of hunting, the FWC directed staff to
advertise new rule proposals that would modify hunting season dates
on many FWC-managed areas. The new rules could be approved for
final adoption at the February meeting and apply to a variety of
public hunting lands. Making these adjustments would align these
areas more closely with the newly adopted hunting zone season
dates, which took effect this year.
Also, the FWC directed its staff to advertise new
rule proposals requiring hunters to tag harvested white-tailed deer
and report the harvest to the FWC, in an effort to improve deer
management. However, the commissioners directed staff to bring back
to the February meeting a menu of options regarding exempt hunters,
showing how those hunters would report their harvest. Exempt
hunters include individuals 65 years and older and under 16 years
old. Tagging is common in many states. The new rules could be
approved for final adoption at the February meeting and would
become effective July 1, 2011.
On another hunting matter, Commissioners directed
staff to advertise a package of new rule proposals affecting
hunting on many of the state's wildlife management areas (WMAs), to
be voted on at the February meeting. Most of the rule proposals
apply to specific WMAs. However, two of the proposed changes would
affect hunting managed areas on a statewide scale. A summary of the
proposals is available online as part of the Dec. 1-2 meeting
agenda at MyFWC.com/Commission.
The first proposed rule would establish youth
turkey hunts on 78 FWC-managed areas and create a youth turkey
quota permit for 49 of the areas. If approved in February, these
new weekend hunts (prior to spring turkey seasons on various WMAs)
would take effect beginning with the 2012 season.
The second rule proposal would remove the one-gun
restriction on all hog quota hunts using dogs. If the Commission
approves the proposed rule at the February meeting, each
participant will be allowed to hunt with a gun, beginning with the
2011-12 hunting season.
The FWC learned Wednesday that the general
management plan for the Big Cypress National Preserve Addition
lands is complete. The FWC, along with several other state
agencies, provided comment to the National Park Service to make
sure the plan includes a full range of recreational opportunities,
public access and resource protection, as per the original intent
of the U.S. Congress. The FWC manages hunting opportunities within
the preserve. The FWC and the National Park Service will work
together to develop a hunt plan for the 146,000-acre addition to
the northeast of the preserve.
On Thursday, Commissioners re-elected Rodney
Barreto as chairman and Richard Corbett as vice chairman.
Regarding marine fisheries issues, Commissioners
directed staff to continue developing management options for
permit, Florida pompano and African pompano, including managing
these species separately and/or by region and allowing spearing for
these species in federal waters if hook-and-line fishing is
allowed. The Commission will reconsider these and other permit and
pompano issues during the FWC's meeting in April.
Commissioners also approved a federal consistency
rule that will require commercial harvesters to hold a federal Gulf
Individual Fishing Quota vessel account to commercially harvest
reef fish species (groupers and tilefish) in Gulf of Mexico state
waters, remove the 6,000-pound limit for commercial grouper vessel
trips in Gulf waters, and clarify which federal permits and
licenses are required to harvest Gulf and South Atlantic reef
In other marine fisheries action, the Commission
reviewed and discussed various federal fisheries management issues,
discussed the concept of designating certain saltwater fish as game
fish, approved its annual marine fisheries work plan and
modifications to certain blue crab rules, and proposed changes to
when commercial fishing license endorsements can be
The FWC also directed staff on Thursday to move
forward with proposed changes to the state manatee protection rule
for Broward County. Staff will hold at least one public meeting and
collect public comments on the proposed changes and bring back a
final rule for approval at either the April or June meeting.
To see the full agenda, go to