(1) SHORT TITLE.—This section may be cited as the “Florida Endangered and Threatened Species Act.”
(2) DECLARATION OF POLICY.—The Legislature recognizes that the State of Florida harbors a wide diversity of fish and wildlife and that it is the policy of this state to conserve and wisely manage these resources, with particular attention to those species defined by the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Department of Environmental Protection, or the United States Department of Interior, or successor agencies, as being endangered or threatened. As Florida has more endangered and threatened species than any other continental state, it is the intent of the Legislature to provide for research and management to conserve and protect these species as a natural resource.
(3) DEFINITIONS.—As used in this section:
(a) “Fish and wildlife” means any member of the animal kingdom, including, but not limited to, any mammal, fish, bird, amphibian, reptile, mollusk, crustacean, arthropod, or other invertebrate.
(b) “Endangered species” means any species of fish and wildlife naturally occurring in Florida, whose prospects of survival are in jeopardy due to modification or loss of habitat; overutilization for commercial, sporting, scientific, or educational purposes; disease; predation; inadequacy of regulatory mechanisms; or other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence.
(c) “Threatened species” means any species of fish and wildlife naturally occurring in Florida which may not be in immediate danger of extinction, but which exists in such small populations as to become endangered if it is subjected to increased stress as a result of further modification of its environment.
(4) INTERAGENCY COORDINATION.—
(a) The commission shall be responsible for research and management of freshwater and upland species and for research and management of marine species.
(b) Recognizing that citizen awareness is a key element in the success of this plan, the commission and the Department of Education are encouraged to work together to develop a public education program with emphasis on, but not limited to, both public and private schools.
(c) The commission, in consultation with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the Department of Economic Opportunity, or the Department of Transportation, may establish reduced speed zones along roads, streets, and highways to protect endangered species or threatened species.
(5) ANNUAL REPORT.—The director of the commission shall, at least 30 days prior to each annual session of the Legislature, transmit to the Governor and Cabinet, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the chairs of the appropriate Senate and House committees, a revised and updated plan for management and conservation of endangered and threatened species, including criteria for research and management priorities; a description of the educational program; statewide policies pertaining to protection of endangered and threatened species; additional legislation which may be required; and the recommended level of funding for the following year, along with a progress report and budget request.
(6) MEASURABLE BIOLOGICAL GOALS.—Measurable biological goals that define manatee recovery developed by the commission, working in conjunction with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, shall be used by the commission in its development of management plans or work plans. In addition to other criteria, these measurable biological goals shall be used by the commission when evaluating existing and proposed protection rules, and in determining progress in achieving manatee recovery. Not later than July 1, 2005, the commission shall develop rules to define how measurable biological goals will be used by the commission when evaluating the need for additional manatee protection rules.