FWC News Release

April 10, 2008
Contacts: Inland Issues – Henry Cabbage, 850-528-1755
Marine issues – Lee Schlesinger, 850-487-0554

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) sorted through a list of rule proposals during its two-day meeting in Tallahassee.

During Wednesday’s session, Commissioners approved a new management plan for bald eagles; deletion of the bald eagle from the list of threatened species; and new rules prohibiting taking, feeding, disturbing, possessing, selling, purchasing or bartering of any bald eagle or its nest or eggs, except as authorized by permit. The new rules also prohibit any person from entering an area on nest sites that has been posted as closed for protection of the bald eagle.

Also during Wednesday’s session, Commissioners approved permitting guidelines for activities that affect gopher tortoises. Commissioners heard reports on Pet Amnesty Day, held in February, and the risk assessment for barramundi.

The Commission voted not to continue a reciprocal agreement with Georgia that allowed senior citizens from the two states to hunt and freshwater fish in either state without buying a license. Georgia Department of Natural Resources officials notified the FWC last year that Georgia wanted to rescind the hunting provision of the agreement, but FWC Commissioners voted to rescind the freshwater fishing provision as well. The agreement never has applied to saltwater fishing.

Florida resident senior citizens still are entitled to hunt and fish in Florida without purchasing a Florida license, although the FWC encourages seniors to purchase licenses to support conservation.

The FWC also approved new rules to continue the moratorium on reducing the number of traps in the lobster fishery for one year and allow two spiny lobster endorsement numbers to be displayed from one vessel to enable both endorsement holders to fish from the vessel. Also, the new rule prohibits harvest and possession of egg-bearing lobsters of any species.

Commissioners also proposed new rules to allow commercial harvest of mullet on weekends, extend the Stone Crab Advisory Board to July 1, 2011 and allow the use of galvanized, 16-guage or thinner, degradable staples to construct the degradable panel on wire stone crab traps. Final hearings on these proposed rules will be held in June.

In other marine fisheries action, the FWC considered South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management councils’ grouper and vermilion snapper management alternatives and other federal marine fisheries management issues. In addition, they received a report on FWC marine fishery stock assessments and reviewed and discussed special activity license rule modifications, marine life (aquarium fish) issues and a stock assessment of the pompano fishery.

The agenda also included final review of the vision document on the future of Florida’s freshwater fisheries.

The complete agenda is available at MyFWC.com/Commission/2008/Apr08/index.htm.

The next FWC meeting will be in Dania Beach, June 11-12.