Handbook of Florida Water Regulation: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission1

Michael T. Olexa, Tatiana Borisova, and Jarrett Davis 2


This handbook is designed to provide an accurate, current, and authoritative summary of the principal federal and state (Florida) laws that directly or indirectly relate to agriculture. This handbook provides a basic overview of the many rights and responsibilities that farmers and farmland owners have under both federal and state laws as well as the appropriate contact information to obtain more detailed information. However, the reader should be aware that because the laws, administrative rulings, and court decisions on which this handbook is based are subject to constant revision, portions of this publication could become outdated at any time. Several details of cited laws are also left out due to space limitations.

This handbook is distributed with the understanding that the authors are not engaged in rendering legal or other professional advice, and the information contained herein should not be regarded as a substitute for professional advice. This handbook is not all inclusive in providing information to achieve compliance with the federal and state laws and regulations governing water protection. For these reasons, the use of these materials by any person constitutes an agreement to hold harmless the authors, the UF/IFAS Center for Agricultural and Natural Resource Law, and UF/IFAS Extension for any liability claims, damages, or expenses that may be incurred by any person as a result of reference to or reliance on the information contained in this handbook.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission: Overview

The purpose of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FFWCC) is the management, protection, and conservation of wild animal life, fresh water aquatic life, and marine life. The Commission came into existence on July 1, 1999, with the approval of a constitutional amendment in the 1998 General Election (Article XII, Section 23, Florida Constitution). Under Article XII, Section 23, the state legislature combined the Marine Fisheries Commission, the Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission, and elements of the Divisions of Marine Resources and Law Enforcement of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) to form FFWCC. Some of the agency's activities include:

  • Habitat improvement

  • Inspection of construction and development projects

  • Development of public recreational areas

  • Updating lists of threatened and endangered freshwater aquatic and land species

  • Regulating the hunting and fishing of Florida's wildlife through the issuance and enforcement of hunting and saltwater and freshwater fishing licenses and various permits

  • Regulating the possession and exploitation of captive wildlife through permitting and licensing various activities, including alligator farms, freshwater fish farms, dealers and buyers of fish or frogs, and the sale and purchase of animal furs and hides

  • Enforce boating regulations

  • Research

  • Running a conservation information service program

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Florida Department of Environmental Protection

Although the FFWCC has jurisdiction over any fresh running waters of the state, Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is the agency primarily responsible for enforcement of water regulations. Jurisdictional directives in this area are overlapping because many agencies have been granted the authority to address this concern.

For example, the DEP maintains a list of Florida endangered marine species and the United States Department of Interior maintains a national list (see FE592, Endangered Species Act). The Endangered Species Act makes the killing, harassment, or destruction of these animals or their nests or eggs illegal. The FWC coordinates with the DEP on updating lists of threatened and endangered freshwater aquatic and land species.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission: Administrative Structure

The FFWCC's board of commissioners is appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state senate to staggered terms of five years. Staggered term refers to the election schedule. Commissioners are elected at different times to ensure the continuity of the board's operation. There are currently seven commissioners on the board of commissioners. The executive director, who serves at the pleasure of the commissioners, is generally responsible for the operation of the FFWCC, including the implementation of policies and rules made by the board of commissioners.

The FFWCC is divided into six agency divisions: Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, Freshwater Fisheries Management, Habitat and Species Conservation, Hunting and Game Management, Law Enforcement, and Marine Fisheries Management.

The FFWCC is also divided into five regional offices: Northwest, North Central, Northeast, Southwest, and South (Figure 1).

Figure 1. FFWCC regions.
Figure 1.  FFWCC regions.
Credit: FFWCC

For additional information about FFWCC, see the FFWCC website at http://myfwc.com/.


Chapter 379, Florida Statutes, Sections 379.101 to 379.237


The authors are indebted to the personnel of both state and federal agencies who provided their time and advice in the preparation of this handbook. We acknowledge Carol Fountain and Susan Gildersleeve at the University of Florida for their assistance in editing this handbook. We also acknowledge funding received for updating this publication from the 2016 Wells Fargo Extension Professional Award and Program Enhancement Grant (Principal Investigator is Tatiana Borisova).


1. This document is FE595, one of a series of the Food and Resource Economics Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date October 1998. Revised June 2017. Visit the EDIS website at https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.
2. Michael T. Olexa, professor, Food and Resource Economics Department, and director, UF/IFAS Center for Agricultural and Natural Resource Law; Tatiana Borisova, associate professor, Food and Resource Economics Department; and Jarrett Davis, student, Levin College of Law; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

Publication #FE595

Date: 2018-02-27

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  • Michael Olexa