Fishery disaster funding spelled out

Jim Estes Photo available for purchase

Jim Estes

Published: Wednesday, March 26, 2014 at 02:08 PM.

Last week, a representative of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission briefed county commissioners on how $6.3 million in recently announced federal oyster fishery disaster funding would be spent.

Jim Estes, deputy director of the FWC’s division of marine fisheries management, broke down the numbers to the satisfaction of the commissioners at their March 18 meeting. They quizzed him about different aspects of the proposed spending, and in his answers, Estes also smoothed over some troubled waters with the commissioners, who were roiled by a perception that Franklin County had been last to be asked if it had anything to add.

“This is not by any means final, we want your input,” said Estes.

“We’ve always been able to work with FWC,” said Chair Cheryl Sanders. “It really concerns us at the time when we saw the bulletin that come out from the federal level. We needed better lines of communication.”

Estes replied, “the lines of communication, that’s on me.”

He said the draft recommendations for spending, which Gov. Scott announced in a Monday press release statewide, were hammered out with input from the local SMART oyster recovery team, as well as the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the Department of Environmental Protection.

“The next step is to get input from you, the legislative delegation and congressional leaders,” he said. “A lot of details have not been worked out. They (the US Department of Commerce) have pretty broad areas we’re allowed to draw grants against.”

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