The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will meet June 11-13 in Lakeland at the Hilton Garden Inn, 3839 Don Emerson Drive. The meeting is open to the public, and all interested individuals may speak within the guidelines established by the Commission.
The June 11 workshop starts at 1 p.m. with the consideration of 11 consent agenda items, among which include eliminating the requirement for a recreational fishing license when targeting the nonnative, invasive lionfish with certain gear, and not imposing recreational or commercial limits on harvesting.
After that, Director Nick Wiley will present his Executive Director’s Report. Next, Commissioners and staff will review and discuss the agency’s budget-development process.
On both Wednesday, June 12, and Thursday, June13, the meeting reconvenes at 8:30 a.m.
The Commissioners will discuss several marine fisheries management issues during the June 12 session, including a draft rule addressing Boca Grande Pass fishing gear. This proposal would enhance the definition of “snagging” or “snatch hooking” in the tarpon rule and would prohibit the use and possession of gear rigged with a weight attached to the bottom of the hook while fishing in Boca Grande Pass.
In a final public hearing, the Commission will decide whether to make tarpon and bonefish catch-and-release-only fisheries, and create a new general chapter that will include definitions and general regulations that would be applied to all saltwater fishing.
The Commission will also review and discuss Florida snook populations. This will include considering whether to let an executive order, which made snook in the Gulf catch-and-release only, expire on Aug. 31.
Staff will also update the Commission on current Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council actions.
On June 13, following recognitions that include the high school state champion fishing team and youth angler, awards will be presented to the Youth Hunting Program Landowner of the Year and the Florida program’s volunteer Hunter Safety Instructor of the Year.
The Commission will also examine a draft rule that would prohibit the importation of live deer into the state, to prevent chronic wasting disease from being introduced into Florida’s deer herd.
Following action on the previous agenda item, the Commission will consider draft rule proposals that would make changes to the Alligator Farming Program and the Private Lands Alligator Management Program. Next on the agenda is a discussion of a draft rule that would reduce user conflicts and eliminate confusing language about the FWC’s haul seine program on Lake Okeechobee.
The final draft rule discussion for the day deals with endangered and threatened species. Staff will present a recommendation to approve a one-year extension to November 2014, which would allow more time for the FWC and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to further develop and adopt Best Management Practices to conserve wildlife on agricultural lands.
Staff will update Commissioners on the progress that has been made on drafting an Imperiled Species Management Plan to conserve 60 species. This will include draft species action plans released this year for public input, which an be viewed at MyFWC.com/Imperiled.
Following public comment on items not on the agenda and before the meeting adjourns, Commissioners will elect a new Commission chairman and vice chairman.
For the complete agenda, go to MyFWC.com/Commission and select “Commission Meetings.”
Any person requiring special accommodations to participate in this meeting should notify the agency at least five calendar days before the meeting by calling 850-488-6411. Contact the agency using the Florida Relay Service at 800-955-8771 (TDD) or 800-955-8770 (voice) if you are hearing- or speech-impaired.
The next regular Commission meeting will be in Pensacola on Sept. 4-6, the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday after Labor Day weekend. Sessions will commence at 1 p.m. on Wednesday and 8:30 a.m. each day thereafter.