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JULY 9, 1996


(Contact: Charles L. Shelfer, 487-0554)

Item A Minutes

Submittal of the May 14, 1996 minutes.

(See Attachment A, Pages 1-2)


Item B Northeast Florida Spotted Seatrout Rule Chapter 46-37

Consideration of proposed rule amendments for Rule Chapter 46-37, F.A.C., relating to the harvest of spotted seatrout in Northeast Florida.

PURPOSE AND EFFECT: Spotted seatrout, while being one of the most targeted fish in inshore Florida waters, is considered by scientists to be overfished. Present spawning potential ratio (SPR) for the species (the measure by which the Commission determines whether a fish is being harvested in excess of its reproductive capacity) is estimated to be approximately 12.4% on the east coast and 14.8% on the west coast of the state. The Commission has determined that a 35% SPR is the minimum safe level of spawning stock needed to protect the spotted seatrout fishery.

In 1995, the Commission adopted comprehensive rules to provide for the long-term viability of the species in Florida. Residents of Northeast Florida have requested that the closed season for the area, November and December each year, be changed and replaced with a closed season that would approximate the biological gains of a November-December closure, but would not have the extreme economic impact of that closure, particularly with respect to the month of November. The purpose of these proposed rule amendments is to implement a December-February closure on spotted seatrout harvest in the Northeast Florida (Flagler through Nassau Counties) area. To accomplish this change, it is necessary to reconfigure the regions specified in the current rules. Northeast Florida will be provided its own region and the remainder of the East Region will be combined with the Southwest Region to form a new South Region to be comprised of most of peninsula Florida.

The effect of these rule amendments will be to maintain the stringent biological goals for the recovery of the spotted seatrout resource, but to do so in a manner in Northeast Florida that will also minimize adverse impacts on anglers and the recreational fishing support industry.

SUMMARY: The definition of the term "east region" in subsection (1) of Rule 46-37.002, F.A.C., is deleted and the remaining subsections are renumbered. A new subsection (5) is added to the rule to provide a definition of the term "northeast region," to be comprised of all state and federal waters lying north of the Flagler-Volusia County Line. The definition of the term "southwest region" in subsection (7) of the rule is amended to define a new "south region" for purposes of the rule chapter.

Subsection (1) of Rule 46-37.003, F.A.C., is amended to apply the 15 to 20 inch slot size limit for spotted seatrout to the new Northeast and South Regions. Subsection (1) of Rule 46-37.004, F.A.C., is amended to provide a bag limit of five spotted seatrout in the new Northeast and South Regions. Subsection (2) of the rule is amended to establish a December-through-February closed season for the harvest of spotted seatrout in the new Northeast Region, retain the November-through-December closure for the South (formerly part of the Southwest) Region, and conform language relating to the Northwest Region.

Notice of proposed rulemaking was published in the May 3, 1996 issue of the Florida Administrative Weekly. A public rulemaking hearing was held on June 4, 1996, in Gainesville, Florida. No changes were made as a result of the hearing. Notice of this meeting of the Board of Trustees was provided to those regularly receiving the Board of Trustees agenda for the Marine Fisheries Commission.

(See Attachment B, Pages 1-19)


Item C Jellyfish Rule 46-51.001

Consideration of proposed new Rule 46-51.001, relating to gear specifications for the harvest of jellyfish.

PURPOSE AND EFFECT: With the net gear limitations fishers now face due to the implementation of Article X, Section 16 of the State Constitution, commercial harvesters of marine species have by necessity begun to explore the development of other fisheries not previously considered. The commercial jellyfish fishery is such a new endeavor. The fishery seriously began to develop in Florida in 1995. It is believed that Florida state waters, in particular those of the Gulf of Mexico, hold the promise of being a productive harvesting area for the jellyfish market. Markets for jellyfish exist in China, Korea and Japan, and imports of jellyfish into the United States suggest that a substantial market exists among Asians living in this country. Concern has been raised, however, by both industry and the Commission, about removing large quantities of jellyfish from the ecosystem without proper management and monitoring of the fishery.

Accordingly, the purpose of this proposed new rule is to provide for the continuing health and abundance of the jellyfish resources of Florida by establishing allowable harvesting gear, and by prohibiting retention of other species taken as bycatch in otherwise legal jellyfish harvesting operations. The effect will be to ensure the protection and conservation of these species, while promoting the fishery's economic growth.

SUMMARY: Paragraph (a) of subsection (1) of new Rule 46-51.001 lists a cast net, beach or haul seine, paired trawl with a maximum of 500 square feet of mesh area, wing net, frame net, or dip net as allowable gear for the harvest of jellyfish in nearshore and inshore state waters, and further provides specifications for each of these gear types. Paragraph (b) establishes the allowable gear for the harvest of jellyfish in state waters beyond nearshore waters, to include the same gear allowed in nearshore and inshore waters, except that paired trawls may be as large as 3000 square feet in mesh area. The paragraph also provides specifications for the use of this gear. Subsection (2) prohibits the retention of other marine species incidentally harvested while lawfully targeting jellyfish. Subsection (3) provides definitions for "frame net", "harvest", "jellyfish", "land", "nearshore and inshore waters", "paired trawl", and "wing net".

Notice of proposed rulemaking was published in the May 3, 1996 issue of the Florida Administrative Weekly. A public rulemaking hearing was held on June 3, 1996 in Gainesville, Florida. Notice of the changes made to the rule as a result of the hearing and of this meeting of the Board of Trustees was published in the June 12, 1996 issue of the F.A.W.

(See Attachment C, Pages 1-20)