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FWC WRAPS UP MEETING AT PENSACOLA BEACH

bullet Agenda (with links to attachments)

September 5, 2003
CONTACTS: (wildlife and freshwater issues) Henry Cabbage (850) 488-8843
(marine issues) Lee Schlesinger (850) 487-0554

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) wrapped up its three-day September meeting today at Pensacola Beach after making some tough decisions.

Commissioners approved rule changes to reclassify the red-cockaded woodpecker from a “threatened” species to a “species of special concern.”  However, Commissioners reserved the option of revisiting the issue if future stakeholder meetings or staff assessments indicate another classification might be more appropriate.

In addition, Commissioners approved a new management plan for the species, defining additional goals for improving the woodpecker population’s condition in the wild.

The measure affects the species’ listing on the state list only.  Federal listing of the red-cockaded woodpecker as an “endangered” species is based on different criteria and will not be affected by FWC action.

Commissioners also heard a report on possible changes to migratory game bird hunting regulations for the 2003-04 hunting season and reviewed and discussed new federal manatee speed zones and their impacts on state zones. 

By consensus, Commissioners agreed to direct the agency’s Division of Law Enforcement to enforce state manatee speed zones in Florida’s waters and to consult local government authorities concerning the pros and cons of adopting the new federal manatee speed zones for Duval, Volusia and Lee counties into state rules.  Commissioners will consider county governments’ reactions to the issue during their next regular meeting.

In addition, staff updated Commissioners on additional assessments to evaluate proposed reclassification of the manatee from endangered to threatened and on the progress of the Listing Process Stakeholders Panel.  The panel is re-evaluating criteria the FWC uses to classify imperiled species.

Regarding public hunting lands, Commissioners:

bulletestablished the number of general gun-vehicle permits for hunts on the Holey Land, Rotenberger, Everglades and Francis S. Taylor wildlife management areas (WMAs),
bulletopened specified roads in Lafayette County to hunting,
bulletre-established the Aucilla WMA, deleting 13,621 acres and adding 18,610 acres,
bulletre-established the Big Bend WMA, deleting 760 acres,
bulletestablished the Grove Park WMA, consisting of 20,330 acres in Alachua County,
bulletre-established the Joe Budd WMA, adding 569 acres,
bulletre-established the Lochloosa WMA, deleting 17,212 acres,
bulletdisestablished the Steinhatchee Falls WMA,
bulletre-established the Tate’s Hell WMA, adding 37,530 acres,
bulletestablished recreational permit quotas and fees for Relay WMA (330 permits at $275 each), Fort. McCoy WMA (150 permits at $200 each), Gulf Hammock WMA (400 permits at $275 each) and Grove Park WMA (200 permits at $325 each), and
bulletamended three rules to make adjustments for conversion of certain wildlife management areas to the user-pay system.

Thursday’s agenda focused on marine issues.  The FWC conducted a final public hearing on proposed pompano and permit rule amendments and voted to raise the pompano and permit minimum size limit for all fishermen from 10 to 11 inches fork length and lower the recreational aggregate bag limit for pompano and permit from 10 to six fish.

Additionally, rule amendments eliminate the Pompano Special Activity License and apply the commercial pompano harvest limit to persons fishing in federal waters, except fishermen who possess a Pompano Endorsement and fish in the approved southwest Florida gill net area.  These rules take effect Jan. 1.

In another action regarding the harvest of permit, Commissioners directed staff to conduct public workshops in south Florida to receive input on a proposal to establish a daily recreational vessel limit for permit greater than 20 inches in length.

In other marine fisheries action, the Commission directed staff to work with selected catch-and-release red drum fishing tournaments as soon as possible to initiate a pilot research project that allows “culling” of fish, and evaluate the impacts of culling and fish-handling techniques.  The FWC will also review a draft rule in November that would permit catch-and-release red drum fishing tournaments to allow participants to cull fish under certain conditions.

The Commission also directed staff to conduct public workshops in the Big Bend and Pinellas County to discuss trap-marking requirements and a trap endorsement for the black sea bass fishery, and schedule public workshops to receive input on Boca Grande tarpon fishing issues and the development of a commercial shrimp endorsement program for the Gulf coast fishery.

The FWC also discussed federal actions regarding cobia, dolphin and wahoo, agreed to make no changes to the northeast Florida food shrimp production license and approved development of FWC fishery strategic plans.

In addition, Commissioners discussed enforcement efforts regarding the use of illegal fishing nets and directed staff to continue to develop ways to eliminate poaching of saltwater species and received a report on the Martin County net fishing issue.

During the Friday session, Commissioners reviewed and discussed Financial Review Task Force recommendations for the 2004 legislative session and heard staff reports and other administrative matters.

In other business, Commissioners considered alligator population management strategies and major proposed changes to wildlife and freshwater fisheries regulations.

Commissioners also authorized the FWC executive director to negotiate for acquisition of the 7,770-acre Box R Ranch Tract as an addition to the Apalachicola Wildlife and Environmental Area if and when the property becomes available.

The next regular FWC meeting will take place Nov. 19-21 At Duck Key.

HPC/OIS

Agenda Items FWC Meeting
Sept. 3-5, 2003 – Pensacola

Wednesday

  1. Presentation of the Hunter Education Volunteer of the Year Award to Mary Magdziak
  2. Presentation of the American Fisheries Society’s Sport Fish Restoration Outstanding Project of the Year Award to staff of the FWC’s Florida Marine Research Institute
  3. Establishment of general gun permits for Holey Land, Rotenberger, Everglades and Francis S. Taylor WMAs
  4. Proposed opening specified sections of roads to hunting in Lafayette County
  5. Re-establishing the Aucilla WMA, deleting 13,621 acres and adding 18,610 acres
  6. Re-establishing the Big Bend WMA, deleting 760 acres
  7. Establishing the 20,330-acre Grove Park WMA in Alachua County
  8. Re-establishing the Joe Budd WMA, adding 569 acres
  9. Re-establishing the Lochloosa WMA, deleting 17,212 acres
  10. Disestablishing the Steinhatchee Falls WMA
  11. Re-establishing the Tate’s Hell WMA, adding 37,530 acres
  12. Establishing recreational use permit quotas and fees for Relay, Fort McCoy, Gulf Hammock and Grove Park WMAs
  13. Adjusting or deleting the number of quota permits, antlerless deer permits and special-opportunity permits for Lochloosa, Fort McCoy, Relay and Gulf Hammock WMAs to accommodate conversion of the areas to the Recreational User Permit Program
  14. Establishing regulations for the Grove Park WMA and revising regulations for the Lochloosa and Gulf Hammock WMAs
  15. Revising regulations for the Fort McCoy and Relay WMAs
  16. Review and consideration of the red-cockaded woodpecker management plan
  17. Proposed deletion of the red-cockaded woodpecker from the list of threatened species
  18. Proposed listing of the red-cockaded woodpecker as a species of special concern
  19. Review and discussion of major proposed changes to wildlife and freshwater fisheries regulations for 2004-05
  20. Migratory bird regulations update
  21. Review and discussion of new federal manatee speed zones and their impacts on state zones
  22. Update on evaluation to reclassify the Florida manatee
  23. Update on progress of the Listing Process Stakeholders Panel

Thursday

  1. Proposed changes to pompano and permit regulations
  2. Review and discussion of the black sea bass fishery
  3. Review and discussion of the commercial and recreational fishery for permit
  4. Review and discussion of Pensacola Bay shrimp harvesting areas and a commercial shrimp endorsement
  5. Review and discussion of the status of management for cobia, dolphin and wahoo by federal fishery management councils
  6. Review and discussion of the northeast Florida dead (food) shrimp production license
  7. Review and discussion of the tarpon fishery in Boca Grande
  8. Review and discussion of development of fishery strategic plans
  9. Federal issues
  10. Update on enforcement of laws governing illegal use of nets
  11. Report on the Martin County net fishing issue

Friday

  1. Alligator population management strategies
  2. Review and discussion of Financial Review Task Force recommendations
  3. Consideration of temporary delegation of authority to the executive director to approve cost-share acquisition for the 7,770-acre Box R Ranch Tract as an addition to the Apalachicola Wildlife and Environmental Area
  4. Administrative matters

 

 

 

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