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FWC meeting in Havana set for April 6-7

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will meet April 6 and 7 near Tallahassee. The sessions will begin at 8:30 a.m. each day and are open to the public. The meeting is at the Florida Public Safety Institute, Pat Thomas Law Enforcement Academy, 215 Academy Drive, Havana, FL 32333.

Traditionally, the Commission discusses marine fisheries issues on the second day but, as it did at its February meeting, it will address those issues on the first day.

On Wednesday, April 6, the Commission will hold a final public hearing on a proposed draft rule that would establish three regional management areas for red drum, raise the daily recreational bag limit for red drum from one fish to two in Northeast and Northwest Florida, create a statewide eight-fish vessel limit for red drum, and modify the red drum off-the-water possession limit and red drum transport provisions.

The Commission will also hold a final public hearing on a proposed draft rule that would:
a) make bonefish a catch-and-release fishery, specify that bonefish may be targeted with hook and line gear only,
b) allow the temporary possession of bonefish for photographs and to document a possible record catch,
c) create a tournament exemption permit to allow temporary possession and transport of bonefish for tournament weigh-ins, and
d) strengthen provisions prohibiting the sale of bonefish.

In addition, Commissioners will consider proposed recreational amberjack and gag grouper rules for Gulf of Mexico state waters that would be consistent with pending rules in Gulf federal waters.

The proposed rules for Gulf state waters would establish an annual June 1 through July 31 closed recreational harvest season for amberjack. The proposed Gulf gag grouper rules would create a 2011 closed gag grouper recreational harvest season of June 1 through the end of this year, except for an open gag grouper recreational harvest season of Sept. 16 through Nov. 15 this year.

Commissioners will also consider options that would further protect permit, Florida pompano and African pompano by expanding the species’ protection in some areas beyond the 9-mile zone, where the fish currently aren’t protected, and by creating separate conservation-management strategies for these species.

Some of the noteworthy proposals for permit include creating a special South Florida management zone and three-month closed season, and adjusting size and bag limits. The proposal would also modify certain Florida and African pompano rules.

In other marine fisheries action, the Commission will consider expanding the FWC’s stone crab protection seaward, review and discuss the latest spotted seatrout stock assessment, and receive updates on various federal fisheries management issues.

Also on April 6, the Commission will recognize FWC Officer Marc Shea for earning the Shikar-Safari Officer of the Year Award and Jacksonville artist C. Ford Riley.
Commissioners may finish the day by selecting two east coast locations for an anchoring and mooring pilot program if they decide to move on staff recommendations. They must select two east coast sites by June.

They will devote Thursday morning to staff reports, administrative matters and a public comment period for items not on the agenda.

Anyone requiring special accommodations to participate in the meeting should advise the FWC at least five days prior to the April 6 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).

To see the full agenda, go here: http://www.myfwc.com/about/commission/commission-meetings/2011/april/06/april-6-7,-2011/