Commissioners wrap up 2-day meeting in St. Augustine
Thursday, June 09, 2011
Media contact: (marine fisheries issues) Aaron Podey, 850-487-0554;
(other issues) Susan Smith, 850-528-1755
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The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC)
wrapped up its two-day meeting Thursday in St. Augustine, in which
it accepted staff recommendations on state-threatened species;
discussed marine fisheries issues of concern to anglers, commercial
fishermen and specimen collectors; approved hunting issues for deer
and alligators; and dealt with other wildlife-related issues.
On Wednesday Commissioners elected Kathy Barco of Jacksonville to serve as
Chairwoman and Kenneth
Wright of Winter Park as Vice Chairman. Their terms are for one
year. Outgoing Chairman Rodney Barreto served six one-year terms as
"I am honored to be elected to serve in this role and grateful
to my predecessor for his example to us all," Barco said.
Commissioners on Wednesday approved staff's
listing recommendations for 61 species following a presentation
on Biological Status Reviews for species currently listed by the
state as threatened or species of special concern. Twenty-seven
members of the public provided a variety of comments on the listing
issue. Forty species will remain listed as threatened, 16 species
will be removed from the list, and five species will remain as
species of special concern.
A change in status of the species will not occur until
management plans are brought back to the Commission for
Also on Wednesday, Commissioners approved revisions to the
permitting guidelines for gopher tortoises to ensure the keystone
species thrives in Florida. The revisions reduce monitoring
requirements for landowners who receive gopher tortoises on their
property and modify the conservation permit to include an on-site
relocation option for certain public projects. The revisions are
part of the FWC's adaptive management strategy to ensure the most
effective gopher tortoise conservation in balance with the needs of
FWC staff and Commissioners discussed the anchoring and mooring
pilot program on Wednesday; Commissioners selected the city of
Stuart, in partnership with Martin County, as a program site. FWC
staff will work with each of the sites involved in the program,
including the cities of Sarasota, St. Petersburg and St. Augustine,
and Monroe County, to develop ordinances pertaining to anchoring
and mooring in each jurisdiction.
Also on Wednesday, Commissioners:
- Adopted a rule change that adds approximately four hours of
daylight hunting per day to the state's recreational alligator
hunting season. The change will be in effect for this year's
season: Aug. 15 - Nov. 1.
- Directed staff to continue evaluating a proposed manatee
protection zone in Flagler County.
- Approved an executive order implementing new deer harvest rules
in two areas of the Big Cypress Wildlife Management Area in South
Florida, in an effort to allow the deer population to rebound. The
rules will affect the upcoming 2011-2012 hunting season.
- Recognized St. Augustine sculptor Capt. Pierre Pierce for his
contributions to fish and wildlife conservation through his highly
On Thursday, the Commission approved rule amendments for permit,
Florida pompano and African pompano that expand their protection to
offshore federal waters beyond Florida state waters, where the fish
currently aren't protected, and created separate
conservation-management strategies for these species.
Some of the key changes for permit include creating a special
South Florida Permit Management Zone that includes a three-month
closed season, and adjusting size and bag limits. The new rules
also modify certain Florida and African pompano rules. These
rule amendments are expected to take effect Aug. 31.
In addition, Commissioners approved rules that extend the FWC's
stone crab management to offshore federal waters beyond Florida
state waters. These rule amendments are expected to take
effect Aug. 31.
The Commission also approved a rule amendment that will make the
recreational harvest season for red snapper in Gulf of Mexico state
waters consistent with this year's open season in Gulf federal
waters. This open harvest season will occur from June 1
through July 18 this year.
Commissioners also directed staff to develop possible rule
modifications that would extend state requirements governing the
harvest of marine life (aquarium species) into federal waters
adjacent to state waters, and to create a commercial quota for
octocorals and adopt areas in federal waters currently closed to
their harvest. Commissioners also heard a report on the
impact of the 2010 snook cold-weather kill and decided to reopen
the harvest of snook on the Atlantic coast on Sept. 1; however,
they decided the Gulf snook fishery should remain catch-and-release
only until Aug. 31, 2012, to give the stock additional time to
recuperate. The Commission also received updates on various
federal fisheries management issues.
Also on Thursday, FWC staff briefed Commissioners on the status
of the contract for the new Recreational License Issuance Services,
set to replace the current Total Licensing System in October
2012. After reviewing proposals and negotiating with several
companies, the FWC ultimately awarded the contract to Brandt
Information Services of Tallahassee.
Regarding freshwater fisheries, Commissioners recognized the
University of Florida bass-fishing team and approved a Black Bass
Management Plan after hearing a report on the final proposed
The next Commission meeting will be Sept. 7-9 in Naples.