Why Manage Plants? It’s the Law

Florida's fresh waters include about 7,700 lakes and ponds, and 1,400 rivers and streams. About 460 of these, covering nearly 1.25 million acres, are considered to be public lakes and rivers because they are owned by the state and accessible via public boat ramp. Invasive aquatic plants degrade and diminish these valuable aquatic environments. In some cases, they impact human welfare by impeding flood control, endangering infrastructure, and hampering recreation. Some threaten Florida’s economy (agriculture, horticulture, tourism) and natural resources such as native plants, fish and wildlife.Therefore, laws are in place to protect Florida and all its inhabitants from the costly and damaging effects of invasive aquatic plants.

Some laws limit or restrict the transport or possession of certain plants; some require a permit, other plants are prohibited altogether (i.e., illegal to possess or transport). The following two agencies are largely responsible for implementing invasive plant regulations in the state.

Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

"The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FL DACS) is responsible for the protection of Florida's vast plant industries and native plant life, as well as the public through the exclusion, detection, eradication and control of injurious plant pests and diseases. The Department's Division of Plant Industry (DPI) is the regulatory agency responsible for the implementation of laws, rules, regulations, and various programs pertaining to plants and plant pests." Thus, FL DACS-DPI has authority over prohibited plants in Florida.

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Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

The Florida Constitution authorizes the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to enact rules and regulations regarding the state's fish and wildlife resources. Aquatic vegetation plays an important role in maintaining and protecting water quality, providing shoreline stabilization and ensuring balanced fish and wildlife populations. The Florida Aquatic Weed Control Act directs the FWC to “...direct the control, eradication, and regulation of noxious aquatic weeds and direct the research and planning related to these activities...so as to protect human health, safety, and recreation and, to the greatest degree practicable, prevent injury to plant and animal life and property.”

The FWC’s Invasive Plant Management Section is the lead agency in Florida responsible for coordinating and funding two statewide programs controlling invasive aquatic and upland plants on public conservation lands and waterways throughout the state.

The Florida Administrative Code is the official compilation of the administrative rules and regulations of state agencies that carry out Florida laws (statutes). The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (Division 68), Aquatic Plants Section (Chapter 68F) contains:

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Last updated: 09 February 2012