(1) INTENT.—The Legislature finds and declares that there is a need to encourage the continuation and advancement of work being done on aquaculture sturgeon production in keeping with the state’s legislative public policy regarding aquaculture provided in chapter 597. It also finds that it is in the state’s economic interest to promote the commercial production and stock enhancement of sturgeon. It is therefore the intent of the Legislature to hereby create a Sturgeon Production Working Group.
(2) CREATION.—The Sturgeon Production Working Group is created within the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and shall be composed of seven members as follows:
(a) The head of the sturgeon research program or designee from the University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Such member shall be appointed by the University of Florida’s Vice President for Agricultural Affairs.
(b) One representative from the Department of Environmental Protection to be appointed by the Secretary of Environmental Protection.
(c) One representative from the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to be appointed by the executive director of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
(d) One representative from the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to be appointed by the Commissioner of Agriculture.
(e) Two representatives from the aquaculture industry to be appointed by the Aquaculture Review Council.
(f) One representative from a private nonprofit organization involved in sturgeon production work, to be appointed by the Commissioner of Agriculture.
(3) MEETINGS; PROCEDURES; RECORDS.—The working group shall meet at least twice a year and elect, by a quorum, a chair and vice chair.
(a) The chair of the working group shall preside at all meetings and shall call a meeting as often as necessary to carry out the provisions of this section.
(b) The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services shall keep a complete record of the proceedings of each meeting, which includes the names of the members present at each meeting and the actions taken. The records shall be public records pursuant to chapter 119.
(c) A quorum shall consist of a majority of the group members.
(4) PURPOSE AND RESPONSIBILITIES.—The purpose of the Sturgeon Production Working Group is to coordinate the implementation of a state sturgeon production management plan to promote the commercial production and stock enhancement of sturgeon in Florida. In carrying out this purpose, the working group shall: (a) Establish a state sturgeon production management plan to inform public or private interested parties of how to aquaculturally produce sturgeon for commercial purposes and for stock enhancement. The sturgeon production management plan shall:
1. Provide the regulatory policies for the commercial production of sturgeon meat and roe, including a strategy for obtaining the required permits, licenses, authorizations, or certificates.
2. Provide the management practices for culturing sturgeon and ensure that aquacultural development does not impede the recovery and conservation of wild sturgeon populations.
3. Establish priorities for research needed to support the commercial production of sturgeon and the recovery of native stocks in the state.
(b) Support management strategies to permit the commercial production of native and nonnative sturgeon, including the distribution of captive-bred Gulf sturgeon to approved certified aquaculture facilities.
(c) Support the development of a cooperative sturgeon conservation program to coordinate conservation, habitat, and resource management programs for native sturgeon, including an evaluation of how stock enhancement can facilitate the conservation and recovery of native sturgeon populations.
(d) Seek federal cooperation to implement the sturgeon production management plan, including federal designation of captive-bred sturgeon as distinct population segments to distinguish cultivated stocks from wild native populations.
(e) Develop enforcement guidelines to ensure continued protection of wild native sturgeon populations.
(f) In furtherance of the purposes and responsibilities of the Sturgeon Production Working Group, the state shall:
1. Establish a program to coordinate conservation and aquaculture activities for native sturgeon.
2. Develop a conservation plan for native sturgeon.
3. Initiate the process to petition for delisting captive-bred shortnose sturgeon.
4. Initiate the process to petition for delisting captive-bred Gulf sturgeon.
(g) Establish a sturgeon broodstock committee composed of fishery scientists, fish farmers, and agency representatives to manage the taking of wild sturgeon for brood fish and spawning.
(h) Establish the Cooperative Broodstock Development and Husbandry Board composed of fishery scientists, fish farmers, and agency representatives to establish standards and criteria for the management and maintenance of captive-reared sturgeon, to collect biological data, and to administer the Cooperative Broodstock Development and Husbandry Program.