Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Lionfish among several key topics for FWC at meeting



Lionfish, sea cucumbers, Gulf red snapper and alligators are among the highlights of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission meeting Tuesday through Thursday in Havana, outside Tallahassee.

Commissioners will consider draft rules aimed at making it easier to control the spread of exotic lionfish from the Indo-Pacific in Florida waters. Among those proposals: allowing divers to harvest lionfish using rebreathers, which recirculate the air supply and allow divers to stay underwater longer; allowing the FWC to issue permits for lionfish spearing tournaments in waters where spearfishing normally is prohibited; and outlawing importation or development of aquaculture of lionfish in Florida.

Commissioners are expected to approve a recreational red snapper harvest season in Gulf state waters (less than nine miles from shore) running May 24 through July 14. They’ll consider a draft rule requiring recreational anglers who harvest reef fish in the Gulf — except the Keys — to enroll annually in a Gulf Reef Fish Registry. Youngsters and charter boat customers would be exempt under the proposal.

The commission will look at managing the harvest of sea cucumbers, which are in high demand in Asian markets, by setting daily commercial trip and vessel limits.

The panel is expected to consider revamping alligator statutes enacted in the late 1980s and discuss the possible expansion of the dove hunting season in 2014-15.

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