Category Archives: Agency News

Agency News

Chronic Wasting Disease

The always-fatal chronic wasting disease (CWD) that affects deer has, thankfully, not reached Florida. The FWC has actively worked to prevent CWD’s spread into Florida for many years. In 2005, the FWC prohibited importing or possessing carcasses or certain carcass parts from all members of the deer family originating in states where CWD has been detected. In addition, importing live deer, elk, moose, caribou and other members of the deer family into Florida from any state was prohibited in 2013. We also have a robust CWD monitoring program, testing over 14,000 hunter-killed, road-killed, and sick or diseased deer since 2002. Hunters have been and continue to be an important part of that effort, and we thank you for your commitment to protecting Florida’s deer population. You can support the CWD testing efforts by donating heads from deer harvested in Florida. You may remove and keep the skull cap and antlers. To donate, call the CWD hotline at 866-293-9282. In addition, if you harvest a sick or extremely skinny deer, avoid handling it and call the CWD hotline at 866-293-9282.

Agency News

MarineQuest 2020 Moves to Online Format

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, leadership has made the decision to move FWRI’s annual MarineQuest open-house to an online format. This decision will allow the event to proceed safely, with the added benefit of allowing Floridians and science-lovers from across the country (or from abroad!) to join in from the comfort of their own homes.

School Daze, an event exclusively for students and their teachers, will take place online Thursday, October 15th, with classes joining remotely for Q&A’s with scientists, activities, explorations of Florida flora and fauna, and more.

The MarineQuest online event will take place Saturday, October 17th. If you have any questions about MarineQuest 2020, please contact Jessica Pernell ( or FWRI Communications (

Agency News

FWC Commission Meeting to be Held Online

The FWC Commission Meeting will be held online May 14, beginning at 9 am. The meeting originally scheduled to be held in Miami will now be held online due to COVID-19 (Coronavirus) social distancing guidelines. This meeting is being held by communications media technology, specifically using Adobe Connect with a telephone conference line for accepting public comment during the meeting. The Florida Channel will be broadcasting live video coverage at and participants watching from the Florida channel can utilize the telephone conference line to call in for public comment.

The FWC is committed to providing opportunity for public input. The Commission welcomes public input regarding agenda items requiring action. To accommodate as much input as possible from those attending, the Chairman reserves the right to designate the amount of time given to a topic or speaker, including time donation to other speakers. Because this meeting is being held by video conference and a telephone conference line, the Commission is presenting a reduced agenda and is limiting public comment to one hour per agenda item. Public comment will be taken by telephone conference line on a first call/first serve basis. 

The Commission is also offering the opportunity for stakeholders to provide their comments regarding the agenda item topics in advance. Advanced comments should be submitted no later than Friday, May 1. Those comments can be submitted via email to If you would like to provide written comments, you can mail those comments to:

FWC Commissioners
620 South Meridian Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32399 

For the full May 14 agenda, links to background reports, and ways to participate, go to, or and click on “The Commission” and “Commission Meetings.”

Agency News

New Boardwalk and Pier at Suncoast Youth Conservation Center

On Nov. 2, hundreds of local youth and their families gathered to celebrate the dedication of a new wheelchair-accessible boardwalk and fishing pier at the Suncoast Youth Conservation Center in Apollo Beach. The boardwalk and pier, which flank a restored saltwater pond and marsh, give visitors to the SYCC campus an opportunity to study coastal marine habitats, learn to fish and enjoy the outdoors.

Part of the FWC’s Florida Youth Conservation Centers Network, the SYCC is a marine-focused conservation education center on the eastern shore of Tampa Bay. The campus includes a 6,000-square-foot education facility and annually serves more than 11,000 youth and adults.

Former FYCCN Director Rae Waddell praised the new facilities at the November 2nd event, saying, “Seeing these youth and families enjoying themselves here today—fishing, learning and watching wildlife—is the perfect way to celebrate the completion of a project that will benefit this community for years to come.”

Agency News

Climate Adaptation Leadership Awards

This past September, FWRI’s Beth Stys was honored with an Honorable Mention from the 2019 Climate Adaptation Leadership Award for Natural Resources. Beth is being recognized in the “Individual Achievement” category for demonstrating exemplary leadership in reducing climate-related threats and promoting adaptation of the nation’s natural resources.

Through personal passion and leadership Beth has been the most significant contributor to FWC’s climate adaptation program in the agency’s history. Beth became lead of FWC’s adaptation working group around 2011. In that capacity, Beth led development of the Florida Adaptation Guide, a comprehensive resource for natural resource managers. Beth also took on the role of Science Coordinator for the Peninsular Florida Landscape Conservation Cooperative (PFLCC) in 2015, and she leveraged this role to build partnerships and cultivate a forward-thinking approach to implementing adaptation at a landscape-scale. Beth’s commitment to excellence and drive is apparent in how her body of work has evolved over time, regardless of setbacks. When she saw the need for the Adaptation Guide to function as a living resource accessible to a wider audience, she expanded the content into the newly released Climate Adaptation Explorer, an interactive digital guide. (Visit the site here) When funding for the PFLCC dissipated, she forged a collaborative partnership with the US Fish and Wildlife Service to continue her mission of implementing adaptation on a landscape-scale. Beyond the accomplishments listed above, Beth has led numerous planning and training workshops and has secured funding and support for a full-time agency adaptation coordinator. Beth has been a behind-the-scenes presence throughout much of her work. However, from research and vulnerability assessments to policy to capacity-building, it is not an understatement to say that FWC would not have an adaptation program today without the efforts of this remarkable person who made the choice to step up and get involved.

The Climate Adaptation Leadership Award for Natural Resources was established in 2016 to bring to light many of the outstanding projects or activities that are advancing the resilience of our nation’s valuable fish, wildlife, and plant resources in a changing climate. This award acknowledges the leadership of those individuals, organizations, businesses, and agencies that are making it happen and promote their work as examples of successful climate adaptation.

Agency News

Coral Monitoring Dashboard

The Florida Reef Tract has been experiencing an outbreak of a coral disease termed Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD), which was first reported off the coast of Miami-Dade County in 2014. A multiagency, multidisciplinary response was developed to guide management actions.

The goal of the project was to rescue healthy corals ahead of the disease front and place them in Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited land-based aquaria to conserve and protect the genetic diversity of Caribbean coral species and increase the number of corals available for future outplantings on the Florida Reef Tract.

The Coral Monitoring Dashboard provides summary information about the rescue effort including: number of corals rescued, species rescued and facility currently housed. The dashboard is updated biweekly to monthly, depending on the rescue effort.

View the Dashboard: Coral Rescue – Coral Monitoring Dashboard

To learn more about Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease and FWC response, visit the SCTLD web page.

Agency News

April is Florida Volunteer Month

To help celebrate and spread awareness of the volunteer programs of FWRI, and FWC generally, we would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to all our divisions and offices who work with volunteers and interns. You make it possible for volunteers and interns to participate in all areas of the FWC’s operations. We celebrate you and all the skills, knowledge and time you spend to make volunteer and intern projects a value to the agency. Your willingness, commitment and success with volunteers and interns ensures they have a valuable experience, conservation gains are achieved, and leads to our volunteers and interns becoming long-term stewards for Florida’s natural resources. Over 5,000 volunteers, including interns, assist the FWC with more than 90 projects annually. Happy Florida Volunteer Month!

You can direct citizens curious about our volunteer opportunities and internships here, as well as the FWC Volunteers Facebook page.

Agency News

State Fair 2019

The Florida State Fair runs from Thursday, February 7th to Monday, February 18th this year, and Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute will once again be in attendance. FWRI has decided to put an extra focus on red tide and red tide response this year, due to the severity and publicity of the 2018 blooms. At the FWRI booth the public will be able to look under a microscope to view actual Karenia brevis (red tide) cells, examine the anatomy of a red drum with Fred the Red, and more. FWC has participated in the Florida State Fair for over 20 years and hope to continue to do so into the future.

Agency News

MarineQuest 2018

This October 18-20th, FWRI opened our doors for the 24th annual MarineQuest. This award-winning event is an opportunity for the public and their families to learn about Florida’s fish and wildlife (and red tide), along with FWRI’s exciting research.

Students learn fish species identification at the Fisheries Dependent Monitoring Station during School Daze.

“School Daze” ran from October 18-19th and was exclusively for teachers and their students to understand and explore some of the extensive research that goes on at FWRI. October 20th was the main event, with our building and grounds open to the public. Visitors toured our main building, where staff was on-hand to discuss their research and answer questions. Select labs were open, and displays demonstrated some of the cutting-edge research going on at FWRI. On the grounds, hands-on displays included touch tanks showcasing Florida’s marine life, terrestrial animals like panthers, even archery.

Students learn about queen conch, spiny lobster, stone crab and horse conch from research biologists at the Florida Keys Fisheries Research station.

In addition to the lab displays and interactive stations, representatives from local and national conservation and science organizations were available to speak with the public and offer information. MarineQuest is an important event in helping the public understand the various programs and research FWC and FWRI are involved in, as some members of the public are unclear as to the reach and depth of our agency. Over all three days of MarineQuest 2018, we welcomed about 8,600 students, teachers and interested citizens to FWRI.

Agency News

FWC Biologist and Officer Win Awards from Florida Guides Association 

FWC biologist John Hunt has received the Capt. Phil Chapman Award, presented to him by the FGA for those who display a passionate commitment to the conservation of Florida’s marine fisheries. Congratulations, John!

John has been at the forefront of marine fisheries research efforts in the Florida Keys for nearly 30 years, and has been instrumental in numerous conservation and scientific efforts aimed at ensuring these fragile ecosystems endure for generations to come.

“To best conserve the Keys and other unique Florida ecosystems, we need sound science and a collective problem-solving approach that relies upon strong partnerships among government, industry, stakeholders and environmental groups,” said Gil McRae, director of FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute. “John embodies that philosophy and has directly contributed to keeping the Keys a pristine ecological environment and recreational destination.”

John Hunt seen here with his Captain Phil Chapman Conservation Award.

John is a world-renowned lobster biologist. His contributions to conservation include research and monitoring work for the multimillion-dollar Caribbean spiny lobster fishery in Florida, additions to the body of science on reef fish ecology and conservation – particularly regarding the effectiveness of marine protected areas – and leadership for the establishment of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, the Tortugas Ecological Reserve and the recently established Tortugas Research Natural Area.

“Perhaps most importantly, John is a tireless advocate for his staff within the agency,” McRae said. “He has repeatedly shown admirable dedication and commitment to his staff, serving as a model for all of us with his leadership, compassion, and courage.”

The FGA also awarded FWC officer Michael Bibeau of Hillsborough County with the “Trained Eyes Coast Watchers” Officer of the Year Award.

Bibeau patrols his home county of Pinellas where he maintains strong working relationships with local partner agencies in enforcing conservation rules and regulations, promoting education and conservation stewardship among those enjoying Florida’s natural resources.

Officer Bibeau posing with his Trained-Eyes Coast Watcher Officer of the Year Award.

“We’re honored that Officer Bibeau, who is also our current FWC Officer of the Year, was chosen for this award,” said FWC Colonel Curtis Brown. “He is a fine example of our dedicated law enforcement officers who are out there every day protecting the public and conserving Florida’s natural resources.”

“This is such an honor for me to receive this award from the Florida Guides Association,” Bibeau said. “The hard work of my brothers and sisters in conservation law enforcement inspires me to do my job every day to the best of my ability.”

Officer Bibeau’s actions set an example whose reach is felt statewide through his leadership as a Field Training Officer and on FWC’s Special Operations Group and Advanced Conservation Training Academy as well as participating in the Great American Teach-In program. Congratulations, Michael!