The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will meet at the Doubletree Grand Key Resort at Key West Dec. 3-4.
The Wednesday, Dec. 3 agenda will focus on inland issues, including proposed legislation to clean up boating statutes related to vessels and vessel registration. Also, Commissioners will consider final action on boating restrictions in Martin and Okeechobee counties, based on a vessel traffic study and requests for revisions from stakeholders and governmental bodies.
A revised final order to deny the City of Naples’ application for a permit to post waterway markers in the Naples Bay area is on Wednesday’s agenda. The FWC granted the permit in March 2007, but an appeals court overturned the decision, requiring the Commission to execute a new final order denying it. In addition, Commissioners will hear staff reports on Everglades water and wildlife issues and consider draft rules to improve Florida’s quota hunt program for sportsmen who use the state’s wildlife management area system. The Commission also will review a set of draft rules concerning wildlife and FWC-managed areas.
Commissioners also will hear an update on a general management plan for the Big Cypress National Preserve Addition and an update on the recent summit, “Florida’s Wildlife: On the Front Line of Climate Change.” Also during Wednesday’s session, Commissioners will review and consider a land swap by the Saddle Creek Corp., City of Lakeland and the state Board of Trustees at the FWC-managed Tenoroc Fish Management Area. The proposal is for an FWC-managed 10-acre tract to go to Saddle Creek Corp. in exchange for 40 acres adjacent to state-owned land. FWC Commissioners will select a new chairman and vice chairman for 2009 during the Thursday, Dec. 4 session.
A final public hearing on proposed rule amendments for gag and red grouper in Gulf of Mexico state waters is on Thursday’s agenda. These proposals would reduce the recreational bag limit for Gulf gag grouper from five fish to two fish daily per person, prohibit the recreational harvest of Gulf gag grouper from Feb. 1 through March 31 and increase the recreational bag limit for Gulf red grouper from one fish to two fish daily per person.
Another final public hearing will take place on proposed rule amendments that would increase the recreational minimum size limit for greater amberjack from 28 to 30 inches fork length and increase the commercial and recreational minimum size limit for gray triggerfish from 12 to 14 inches fork length in Gulf state waters.
In other marine fisheries action, the FWC will consider a draft rule amendment that would end the moratorium on the reduction of lobster trap certificates and provide that the number of trap certificates will be reduced by 10 percent to a purchaser only when they are sold or transferred to someone outside the immediate family of the certificate holder.
The Commission also will consider a series of draft rule amendments for the marine life (aquarium species) fishery. The proposed rules would add new fish and invertebrate species to marine life regulations, establish or change size and bag limits and gear specifications for several marine life species, and make other administrative and technical marine life rule changes. In addition, the FWC will consider a draft rule that would establish six regional closed seasons around the state to the harvest of blue crabs with traps. These closures would extend for a period of up to 10 days each to help identify and retrieve lost and abandoned blue crab traps from Florida waters.
Commissioners also will review and discuss several federal Gulf and Atlantic fishery management issues.
FWC meetings are open to the public, and anyone requiring special accommodations to participate in the meeting should advise the FWC at least five days prior to the 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 1-800-955-8771 (TDD) or 1-800-955-8770 (voice).