The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will meet June 27-28 at the PGA National Resort in Palm Beach Gardens to discuss federal endangered species designations, changes in hunting and saltwater harvests and the newest phase of its anchoring and mooring pilot program, among other issues.
The first day will feature a report from Executive Director Nick Wiley and FWC staff will discuss the five-year report on the science plan for Dry Tortugas National Park Research Natural Area.
Conservation issues will be discussed regarding the Florida black bear, the state's largest land mammal, which has rebounded from as few as 300 in the wild in the 1970s to more than 3,000 today. Issues include removing the black bear from the state list of threatened species and adopting a new FWC rule making it illegal to harass, injure or kill a bear in Florida.
On Thursday, commissioners will take up marine fisheries issues, which include updates from the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council and the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council meetings, marine-life management changes, bay scallops and snook.
Commissioners will review an updated stock assessment on snook and determine whether or not the recreational harvest of the species should reopen in Gulf of Mexico state waters. The season is now closed through Aug. 31 via an executive order. The closure was initiated in 2010 after a severe cold spell killed a lot of the snook population.
The boating issue on Thursday's agenda is a staff presentation on an anchoring and mooring pilot program ordinance for the city of Sarasota. Stakeholders in Sarasota have developed a proposed ordinance for non-live-aboard vessels outside marked mooring fields. Commission approval is necessary before Sarasota can enforce the ordinance.
After two years of season extensions with little effect on the bay scallop population, the Commission will consider permanently extending the bay scallop recreational harvest season by two weeks.
The Commission is expected to consider final approval of these changes at its September meeting in Tampa. To see the full agenda and links to background reports, go to MyFWC.com/Commission and select "Commission Meetings."