Agency Merger to Impact Florida’s Sea Turtle Protection Program

Date: April 22, 1999
Contact: Gary Appelson
Phone: (352) 373-6441

How You Can Help

The legislative session is winding down. The merger of all wildlife agencies into the new Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC) is progressing slowly. The Senate wildlife merger bill (SB-864) was passed by the Senate weeks ago. STC generally supports this bill.

The House version (HB 2145) is a different story. STC and other groups have been working hard to improve the bill, with some success. The House bill is finally out of committee and should be voted on by the full House any day. The two very different bills will then have to be reconciled and jointly approved by the legislature.

The problem:

House Bill 2145 withholds from the new FWCC the full constitutional authority to make rules to protect sea turtles. The bill glaringly states that the new Commission “shall have full rulemaking authority over marine life, except for endangered and threatened marine species”!!! This means that rules promulgated to protect sea turtles and manatees will be subject to a review process that is susceptible to future legislative tinkering and is more cumbersome then the review process applied to the protection of other wildlife.

Also, as reported earlier, the House bill still places the Bureau of Protected Species and the Marine Fisheries Research Institute into different parts of the new agency. Marine species protection would be best served if the regulatory and research arms were working closely together. BPS and MFRI should be moved into a new Division of Marine Resources within the new agency, as is called for in the Senate bill.

The main focus of our effort is now twofold. First we are still working with other groups to try to amend the House bill before it is voted on early next week. This will likely not succeed. So our efforts will quickly turn to gaining support for the Senate bill and its granting of full constitutional protection to sea turtles and all other marine species. Your help is essential!


Contact the people in charge.

Fax, call, or e-mail the following officials. Ask that they support full constitutional protection for threatened and endangered marine species by steadfastly supporting the Senate Bill 864. Express your concerns over the House Bill 2145 because it withholds full constitutional protection from those species that are most vulnerable; sea turtles, manatees and whales. This make no sense and goes against the wishes of the public in approving the current wildlife agency merger. Also ask for a strong Division of Marine Resources that includes the BPS and the FMRI. It never hurts to thank the Governor and the Senators for their strong and progressive leadership on this issue so far.

Governor Jeb Bush
Phone (850) 488-4441
Fax (850) 487-0801
Senator Jack Latvala (Majority Leader)
Phone (850) 487-5062
Fax (850) 487-5842
Senator Toni Jennings (Senate President)
Phone (850) 487-5127
Fax (850) 487-5844

Thanks in advance for any help you can provide on this issue!