FWC News Release
Contacts: (inland issues) Henry Cabbage 850-488-8843
(marine issues) Lee Schlesinger 850-487-0554

Agenda (with links to background reports)

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) wrapped up a two-day meeting Thursday at Key Largo after wading through an eventful agenda.

Commissioners voted to approve the Florida Manatee Management Plan during the Wednesday session, effectively establishing a comprehensive plan that lays out all the realistic measures the state can take to nurture the species away from the threat of extinction. The plan also includes measurable goals for the manatee’s recovery. It marks the first time Florida has had a management plan for the species.

Commissioners voted to defer a proposal to reclassify manatees from endangered to threatened on the state’s imperiled species list. Meanwhile, Commissioners directed FWC staff to research options for revising the agency’s imperiled-species classification process.

Also, Commissioners heard an update on a proposed management plan and associated rules concerning the bald eagle Wednesday. Final action on those proposals will take place at a later meeting.

The Commission approved acquisition of the 1,148-acre Dunham Ranch in Polk County as a mitigation park and acquisition of the 1,652-acre Lucky L Ranch in Osceola County as an addition to the Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area.

During Thursday’s session, Commissioners re-elected Rodney Barreto to be the seven-member commission’s chairman and Brian Yablonski to be vice chairman for 2008.

Commissioners also approved final adoption of rules to clear up the FWC’s due process procedures and delegations of authority.

In addition, Commissioners approved a new rule to require owners of Class I (potentially very dangerous) animals to contact the FWC immediately in the event of an animal escape. It also requires owners to keep records of names, addresses and phone numbers of adjacent property owners for notification in case a dangerous animal escapes.

Concerning marine issues, Commissioners proposed draft rule proposals from the FWC’s Spiny Lobster Advisory Board. The board’s proposals include extending the current moratorium on the spiny lobster trap reduction schedule, allowing two different spiny lobster endorsement holders to pull traps from the same vessel, revert trap certificates not paid for to the FWC after two years instead of three and prohibit the harvest of all egg-bearing lobsters. A final public hearing on these proposed rules will be held in April in Tallahassee.

Also, the Commission proposed a rule that would modify the legal dimensions for black sea bass traps to allow more flexibility in the size and shape of these traps. Final action on this proposed rule will take place in February in Panama City.

In other marine fisheries actions, Commissioners approved the proposed marine fisheries work plan for 2008-09, discussed ways to better incorporate FWC input into the federal fisheries management process and considered various federal fisheries management issues.

The Commission adopted resolutions honoring former commissioners Herky Huffman, Sandra Kaupe and David Meehan.

The complete agenda is available at www.MyFWC.com/commission/2007/Dec07/index.html.

The next FWC meeting is set for Feb. 6-7 in Panama City.