Media: Action Alert

Sea Turtles Need Our Help- Amend House Bill 2145. The Agency Merger Issue Continues

Date: April 2, 1999
Contact: Gary Appelson
Phone: (352) 373-6441

How You Can Help

The bill combining the Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission and the Marine Fisheries Commission into the new Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) is finally beginning to move, it has been named House Bill 2145. We are closely monitoring the movement of "the wildlife agency merger bill ", but things happen quickly and unpredictably. We are generally supportive of HB 2145 and its goals. However, two issues concern us, due to their possible negative impact on long term sea turtle protection efforts.

The problems:
First, under HB 2145, the new FWC has constitution rulemaking authority for all species "except threatened and endangered marine species", including marine sea turtles. This glaring exclusion appears to contradict the intent of Constitution Amendment 5, which grants constitutional authority "for the protection of all wildlife" to the new FWC. On its face, it seems to make little sense to limit protection for the most threatened and vulnerable of Florida's wildlife. In all likelihood, this is an attempt to leave open the future possibility of legislative tinkering with protection of threatened and endangered species by not giving them the full protection granted other wildlife under the authority of the new FWC. This is unacceptable.

Second, as written, the bill fragments wildlife resource protection by not creating a Division of Marine Resources within the new FWC. The Florida Marine Research Institute (FMRI) and the Bureau of Protected Species (BPS) are moved independently to different bureaus within the new FWC. MRI and BPS should be moved intact and consolidated within a Bureau of Marine Resources. This is the best way to ensure coordination within the new Commission between the permitting review staff and the science and research folks. The Game Commission, the Marine Fisheries Commission, the Senate merger bill, and the Governors's office all support and have requested a Bureau of Marine Resources within the new FWC.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

Here are two drafts of possible letters. Call, fax, or e-mail the legislators listed below. Most are on the House Committee on Environmental Protection. Be concise, to the point, and polite. Most important to contact are marked with an *. The bill will be voted on Thursday morning, April 15, so you must act by before then.

Dear Representative (Insert Name)

A- I am writing to express my concerns regarding several aspects of HB 2145 and how the bill may impact the long term protection for Florida's endangered marine turtles.

In overwhelmingly supporting Constitutional Amendment 5, the public was sending a clear signal that they expected increased long term protection of all our marine resources. I respectfully request, that to better accomplish this objective, HB 2145 be amended to provide that the FWC have full constitutional rule making authority for all threatened and endangered marine resources. Additionally the responsibilities of marine resource protection should be consolidated under one roof, within the new FWC. To ensure adequate protection of our marine wildlife there needs to be a Bureau of Marine Resources within the new FWC.

Thank you for your attention to these concerns.

Sincerely,


B- I am concerned that the current effort to create the new Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) may result in a weakening of the current protection afforded Florida's marine sea turtles. Since Florida host the most significant populations of nesting marine turtles in North America, we have a national and international responsibility to provide marine turtles with as mush protection as possible.

While generally supportive of HB 2145, the wildlife agency merger bill, several issues concern me. Please amend HB 2145 so that it grants full constitutional rule making authority within the new FWC for the long term protection of all threatened and endangered marine wildlife. As currently drafted, the bill excludes marine turtles, manatees, and whales from such protection. Additionally the responsibilities of marine resource protection should be consolidated under one roof, within the new FWC. To ensure adequate protection of our marine wildlife there needs to be a Bureau of Marine Resources within the new FWC.

Thank you for your attention to these concerns.

Sincerely,


People to Contact:

Rep John Thrasher, Speaker*
thrasher.john@leg.state.fl.us
Phone (850) 488-1450
Fax (850) 488-1456

Rep Ken Pruitt*
pruitt.ken@leg.state.fl.us
Phone (850) 488-8749
Fax (561) 871-7677

Rep Josephus Eggeletion*
Phone (850) 488-8234
egglletion.josephus@leg.state.fl.us
Fax (954) 497-2571

Rep Paula Dockery*
dockery.paula@leg.stae.fl.us
Phone (850) 488-2270
Fax (850) 414-7724

Rep Charles Sembler*
sembler.charles@leg.stae.fl.us
Phone (850) 488-0952
Fax (850) 413-0815

Rep Chris Hart*
hart.chris@leg.stae.fl.us
Phone (850)-2770
Fax (850) 922-6002

Rep Sandra Murman*
murman.sandra@leg.stae.fl.us
Phone (850) 488-9910
Fax (850) 413-0423

Rep Bruce Kyle
kyle.bruce@leg.state.fl.us
Phone (850) 488-1541
Fax (941) 335-2411

Rep Anthony Hill
hill.anthony@leg.state.fl.us
Phone (850) 488-6893
Fax (904) 359-6500

Rep Rick Minton
minton.rick@leg.state.fl.us
Phone (850) 488-5588
Fax (561) 595-1380

Rep Manuel Prieguez
prieguez.manuel@leg.state.fl.us
Phone (850) 488-4202
Fax (305) 643-7336

Timothy Ryan
ryan.timothy@leg.state.fl.us
Phone (850) 488-0245
Fax (954) 965-3727

Rep Tom Warner
warner.tom@leg.state.fl.us
Phone (850) 488-8832


Rep David Russell
russel.david@leg.state.fl.us
Phone (850) 488-6641
Fax (352) 544-2300

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