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FWC set to meet June 8-9 in St. Augustine

For immediate release: June 1, 2011
Media contact: (marine fisheries issues) Aaron Podey, 850-487-0554;
(other issues) Susan Smith, 850-528-1755

§  Agenda (with links to background reports) available at MyFWC.com/Commission.

FWC set to meet June 8-9 in St. Augustine

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will meet June 8 and 9 in St. Augustine to discuss staff recommendations to identify state threatened species; marine fisheries issues of concern to anglers, commercial fishermen and specimen collectors; hunting issues for deer and alligators; and other wildlife-related issues.

Both sessions will begin at 8:30 a.m. and are open to the public. The meeting is at The Renaissance Resort at World Golf Village, 500 South Legacy Trail, St. Augustine, 32092-2719.

On Wednesday, June 8, after Commissioners recognize St. Augustine sculptor Capt. Pierre Pierce, staff will present Biological Status Review reports and recommendations for 61 species currently listed as state threatened or species of special concern. Staff will recommend that 40 species remain listed as threatened, 16 species be removed from the list and five species remain as species of special concern. Commissioners will be asked to approve the staff recommendations, but before any change in status occurs, a management plan must be written and approved for each of the 61 species.

Also on Wednesday, Commissioners will decide whether to approve revisions to the permitting guidelines for gopher tortoises. The revisions adjust 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 proposed revisions are part of the FWC’s adaptive management strategy to ensure the most effective gopher tortoise conservation in balance with the needs of Floridians.

Next, the Commission will consider staff’s recommendation to select two east coast locations for an anchoring and mooring pilot program. They must select two east coast sites by June.

Also on Wednesday, Commissioners will:
Decide whether to approve a final rule increasing the daylight hours when alligators can be hunted.
Review and discuss a draft rule for manatee protection in Flagler County.
Discuss deer harvest rules in the Stairsteps Unit of Big Cypress National Preserve in South Florida in response to high water and habitat change.
Be briefed on the status of the contract for the new Recreational License Issuance Services, set to replace the current Total Licensing System in October 2012.
On Thursday, the Commission will hold a final public hearing on proposed rule amendments that would further protect permit, Florida pompano and African pompano by extending state protective measures into federal waters and creating separate management strategies for these species. Some of the noteworthy rule proposals include creating a special management zone for permit in South Florida, changing permit size and bag limits and modifying certain Florida pompano and African pompano regulations.

Commissioners will also consider a proposed rule amendment that would apply the same closed season for the recreational harvest of red snapper in Gulf of Mexico state waters as this year’s closed season in Gulf federal waters.

The Commission will also hear draft rules that would extend state requirements governing the harvest of marine life (aquarium species) into federal waters adjacent to state waters, create a commercial quota for octocorals and adopt areas currently closed to harvest in federal waters for octocorals.

In other marine fisheries action, the Commission will consider a rule that would extend state stone crab management into adjacent federal waters; hear a report on the impact of the 2010 snook cold-weather kill; consider opening snook harvest on Sept. 1; and receive updates on various federal fisheries management issues.

Regarding freshwater fisheries, Commissioners will recognize the University of Florida Fishing Team and consider whether to adopt the Black Bass Management Plan after hearing a report on the final proposed version.

Toward the end of each meeting day, the public can comment on 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 June 8 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 to MyFWC.com/Commission.