FWC Meeting

Florida Wildlife Commission sets June 23-24, 2010 meeting in Lake Mary, Florida

News release: June 9, 2010
(inland issues) Patricia Behnke, 850-251-2130;
(marine issues) Lee Schlesinger, 850-487-0554
Florida Wildlife Commission

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will meet June 23 and 24 in Lake Mary near Orlando. The sessions will begin at 8:30 a.m. both days and are open to the public.

On Wednesday, June 23, the Commission will begin by considering several draft rules, starting with fox and coyote enclosures and their operation in Florida. Proposed draft rule changes will be recommended for restricting the method of take during the spring turkey season on wildlife management areas. In addition, the Commission will consider a draft rule to allow the use of crossbows during archery season on private lands.

Final rules on airport safety and wildlife will be presented. The rules address the taking of wildlife on airports when necessary for the safety of people and aircraft on airports.

Burmese pythons and several other reptiles and lizards will come under discussion as the Commission considers final rules to change the classification of these nonnative species from reptiles of concern to conditional species. If approved, the new rules would allow anyone currently in possession of and properly licensed for a Burmese python or other reptile of concern, to keep the pet for the duration of its life. However, the new rules would prevent possession of Burmese pythons, reticulated pythons, African rock pythons (northern and southern), amethystine python group, green anacondas and Nile monitor lizards, except for commercial purposes. The new rules also provide 24/7 amnesty for currently unlicensed owners of reptiles of concern or conditional species to turn over their pets to a licensed facility without penalty.

Commissioners will consider proposed revisions to the gopher tortoise permitting guidelines. The revisions will assist in making the permitting process more efficient. Wednesday’s meeting will conclude with a presentation of revisions to the Miami Blue Butterfly Management Plan that takes into account new information and research about the endangered species’ population.

On Thursday, June 24, the meeting will open with special recognitions for FWC staff. The Florida Guides Association will recognize tarpon biologist Kathy Guindon and law enforcement Officer William Holcomb for their outstanding efforts in fish and wildlife conservation. Varley Grantham of the Triple S Cattle Company in Orange County will be honored as the recipient of the Youth Hunting Program of Florida Landowner of the Year Award, and Roger Mitchell from Polk County will receive the 2009 Hunter Safety Volunteer Instructor of the Year Award.

Following the awards presentation, the Commission will hold a final public hearing on proposed rule amendments for weakfish, also known as gray seatrout or yellow-mouth trout, which would apply the FWC’s weakfish management rules only in designated state waters of Nassau County in Northeast Florida. All weakfish-like fish (including weakfish, sand seatrout and their hybrids) would be covered under the rules in these waters. The current daily recreational bag limit for these fish would be reduced from four fish to one fish, and a commercial weakfish harvest limit of 100 pounds per vessel per day or trip (whichever is longer) would apply in the designated waters.

Commissioners also will consider proposed federal consistency rule amendments for swordfish, which would make the FWC’s rules for this species in state waters the same as regulations for swordfish in adjacent federal waters. The rule amendments would increase the limit for recreational vessels from three swordfish to four per vessel, create a special charter boat vessel limit of six swordfish and a special head boat vessel limit of 15 swordfish, retain the individual daily bag limit of one swordfish per person except for the captain and crew of for-hire vessels, and remove the 33-pound-minimum swordfish weight requirement.

In other marine fisheries action, the Commission will review and discuss federal fishery management issues, including whether management of certain species in federal waters should be delegated to the FWC, and possible changes to Gulf of Mexico gag grouper regulations.

A proposed new rule will be considered to allow the Commission to review and approve local boating ordinances before they take effect. In addition, a rule amendment will be discussed that incorporates statutory changes in the approval process for certain waterway markers.

The day will end with an update from the Division of Freshwater Fisheries Management on development of the Black Bass Management Plan for Florida.

The meeting will be at the Orlando Marriott Lake Mary, 1501 International Parkway, Lake Mary.

Anyone requiring special accommodations to participate in the meeting should advise the FWC at least five days prior to the June 23 meeting by contacting the FWC’s Office of Human Resources at 850-488-6411. If you are hearing- or speech-impaired, contact the FWC using the Florida Relay Service at 800-955-8771 (TDD) or 800-955-8770 (voice).

The full agenda is available online at: http://myfwc.com/COMMISSION/2010/Comm_10_AgendaJun.htm.

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