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Tag: CCA

Media Invited to Attend CCA STAR Tournament Kick-Off, Spring ’15

by on Jan.28, 2015, under CAPT. TOMMY'S BOOK SIGNINGS, TALKS, TRAVELS, FLORIDA'S BIG BEND AND EMERALD COAST, TAMPA BAY AND SOUTHWEST FLORIDA

STAR Logo

Now’s the time to start learning about the 2015 CCA STAR Tournament.  Media events are planned in Tampa, Fort Myers and Tallahassee and I urge media members to attend.  More to follow soon about the event and how the general fishing public can (and should!) participate!!!

Fort Myers, Florida — Join local recreational anglers, fishing celebrities, political figures and other media for the launch of the inaugural Coastal Conservation Association Florida STAR Tournament.   The kick-off for STAR is Saturday, January 31, 2015 at 1:45 on the main stage during the Florida Sportsman’s Expo at the Lee County Civic Center.  CCA Florida will roll out the particulars on how catching one of the eighty specially-tagged redfish offers a registered STAR angler the ability to win a new truck or boats including a Contender 22 Sport, a Pathfinder 2200 TRS and a Hell’s Bay Waterman. All packages come complete with Yamaha motors and custom trailers.
STAR begins on Memorial Day weekend and the tournament ends at 5 p.m. on Labor Day, offering participants a total of 108 fishing days!  STAR will be one of the most angler-inclusive tournaments in the state of Florida and will provide all anglers an opportunity to win. With nearly $500,000 in prizes & college scholarships, STAR anticipates recruiting over 4,500 participants, making it Florida’s largest saltwater fishing tournament. To learn more, please attend this special invitation launch on Saturday, January 31 at 1:45 on the main stage during the Florida Sportsman’s Expo at the Lee County Civic Center. Provide an RSVP to lfitzgerald@ccaflorida.com or by calling 352-665-4868. Complimentary parking and entry to the FS Expo will be provided to attendees with reservations.

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Court Upholds Florida Gill Net Ban, July 8, 2014

by on Jul.09, 2014, under CAPT. TOMMY'S BOOK SIGNINGS, TALKS, TRAVELS

Yesterday, Florida’s First District Court of Appeal issued an opinion upholding the state’s net ban amendment…again. CCA Florida once again led the charge to support the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) regulations implementing the Constitutional Amendment that was passed by 72% of the voters in 1994. The same small group of commercial gill netters that have filed one lawsuit after another were rebuffed in the appellate court after finding a sympathetic judge at the circuit court level. The three judge appellate panel held that the trial judge, “…erred in determining [the netters] claims were not barred by [past legal precedent]”. They also held that the judge was wrong to allow the gill net season to open while the case was pending in the appellate courts. “This is a big win for all recreational anglers and CCA Florida will continue to be the outspoken advocate and protector of the Constitutional Amendment which has protected Florida’s marine fisheries and the multibillion dollar economic value of fisheries to Florida’s economy,” said CCA Florida Chairman, Fred Crabill. Last October, Florida waters were again open to the slaughter of illegal gill nets for six days, reminiscent of pre 1994 Florida where use of these nets devastated our near shore and inshore waters crushing recreational fishing for Redfish, Trout, Snook and other fishes. The net ban has had dramatic effect on bringing bait back to our near shore waters, with the resulting increase in catches of pelagics like sailfish and cobia along the coast. But, the fight may not be over. It will be up to the netters whether or not to file an appeal at the next level, the Florida Supreme Court. While legal scholars doubt the success of such an appeal given the reasoning by the First District Court of Appeals, stranger things have happened in the courts where gill nets are concerned. After all, no one dreamed that the same gill net interests that have pushed this fight for twenty (20) years would find a willing judge last year. “CCA Florida would like to thank FWC, Attorney General Pam Bondi and especially Assistant Attorney General, Jonathan Glogau for their tireless efforts on this case and for protecting Florida’s saltwater fisheries,” said CCA Florida Executive Director, Brian Gorski. CCA Florida will continue to monitor the case and file legal briefs if the matter is appealed. Lawyers representing CCA in the current appeal were pleased with the results but wary of what may come next… perhaps a trip to the Supreme Court. For the full First District Court of Appeals opinion click here… http://www.ccaflorida.org/images/Net_Ban/Opinion_140707.pdf -
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THE PLAIN TRUTH ABOUT GILL NETS–Why the Court of Appeals decision matters!

by on May.30, 2014, under CAPT. TOMMY'S BOOK SIGNINGS, TALKS, TRAVELS

From CCA-Florida’s Special Advisor-Advocacy, Ted Forsgren:

On May 15 the First District Court of Appeals heard arguments on a local judge’s ruling that overturns Florida’s 20 year old Constitutional Amendment limiting marine net fishing. The three judge panel questioned lawyers representing the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and Wakulla Fisherman’s Association. The Court’s ruling will likely come between July and August 2014.

The truth is that commercial gill net fishermen want to use these entangling nets to take the large egg laden breeder mullet. The damage done by this practice represents a double whammy to the mullet population and ultimately to many other species.  Mullet is a staple food fish for other species. Snook, Redfish, Trout, Tarpon, and Snapper feed on “baby” mullet. When netters demolish the breeder population, the ability to reproduce is decimated and they destroy eggs they are carrying, thus there are fewer fish to grow up and breed. In the case of nets with a 2 inch mesh size,  larger fish cannot get their head through the mesh and  do not become entangled, allowing many more of this critical breeding population to survive. The intent the FWC rule defining gill nets by limiting the mesh size was to allow for a commercially feasible net that would not gill fish, thus allowing net fishermen to take enough fish to maintain their livelihood.

In November of 1994 72% of Florida voted for the Constitutional Amendment limiting marine net fishing. The amendment includes both a prohibition on the use of gill and entangling nets in all state waters and a size limit on other nets. Although the restrictions have been in place for nearly 20 years, there are still small factions within the commercial fishing industry that refuse to accept the legal reality that the constitutional prohibition on gill nets means no gill nets.

Numerous administrative challenges and lawsuits have been filed over the last 20 years in an effort to challenge these regulations and allow the use of gill nets which are contrary to the Amendment Court decisions have upheld the implementing rules which established a 2 inch size stretched mesh size as the “bright line distinction” between a legal seine net and an illegal gill net. The size was established based on the historic mesh sizes prior to the gill net ban. The Courts ruled that the 2 inch maximum size for seine nets was “historically based, rational and practical”.

CCA Florida will continue to be outspoken advocates and protectors of the Constitutional Amendment that has salvaged Florida’s marine fisheries from overzealous gill netting and has helped the recreational fishery become a multibillion dollar economic impact to Florida’s economy. CCA will help protect the mature breeder fish and their ability to spawn and keep mullet populations thriving and ensure that Redfish, Snook, Sea trout, Grouper, and other shallow water predators have forage fish to consume throughout their lifecycle.

Coastal Conservation Association Florida

Dedicated to Conserving and Protecting Florida’s Marine Resources

P.O. Box 568886, Orlando, Florida 32856-8886 (407) 854-7002 Fax (407) 854-1766

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18th Annual CCA Sarasota “Photo All‐Release Challenge”

by on Apr.02, 2013, under Bradenton and Sarasota

The Sarasota chapter of Coastal Conservation Association will host their 18th annual “Photo All‐Release
Challenge” fishing tournament on April 19th & 20th, 2013. This year’s tournament headquarters will be at
the Potter Building at the Sarasota County Fairgrounds. There will be a mandatory angler meeting on
Friday evening, April 19th at the Potter Building. The tournament features a catch‐photo‐release format
for snook, redfish and trout with anglers using identical boxes of lures or flies that are provided. Fishing
begins Saturday morning and all anglers must turn in their photos at New Pass Grill & Bait Shop by 3:00
pm.

Anglers will photograph their catch with their own digital cameras, which must have a removable
memory card. Divisions include Grand Slam (largest snook, redfish and trout), Angler (most inches per
species), Largest Fish (each species), Lady Angler (largest fish, each species), Fly Rod and Youth. The
tournament, which raises money for CCA’s conservation projects, also features an upscale raffle, a silent
auction and an awards dinner on Saturday evening. Cost is $95 per angler and $30 for youth anglers (12
years old and younger). Anglers must register in advance. Applications will be available at fishing tackle
shops, marinas and boating stores in Sarasota and Manatee counties and online at
www.ccaflorida.org/chapters/sarasota.html

Contact Adam Miller at (941) 270‐0895 or Capt. Bruce
Burkhart at (941) 922‐3675 for more information.

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2012 Mangrove Coast Fly Fishers/CCA “Fall Fly Fishing Challenge” Results from Capt. Rick Grassett, Sarasota

by on Oct.29, 2012, under Bradenton and Sarasota

The 8th annual MCFF/CCA “Fall Fly Fishing Challenge” was held on Sunday, Oct. 29th. The tournament was rescheduled from Saturday due to windy conditions. Despite windy conditions on Sunday many fly anglers still had good action. The tournament, put on jointly by the Mangrove Coast Fly Fishers and the Sarasota chapter of Coastal Conservation Association was held out of the Ken Clark Auditorium at the Sarasota County Fairgrounds. Anglers could fish any water on the west coast of Florida with flies only in a catch, digital photo, release format fishing tournament for reds, trout, snook and more. All fish were photographed and immediately released. Winners were awarded handsome plaques, gift certificates and Orvis fly rods. Donors to the event were Orvis, Redfish Landing Guide Service, CB’s Saltwater Outfitters, Economy Tackle, Discount Tackle Outlet, Flying Fish Outfitters, G. Loomis, Simms, New Pass Grill & Bait Shop and Andy Thornal Company. Tournament participants were treated to a homemade BBQ meal donated and prepared by Capt. John & Leslie Hand.

Open Division-based on total inches (guides, anglers fishing with guides and any other angler wishing to compete)

Slam (largest snook, redfish and trout)
Brent Wilson, Sarasota, FL                                      59.5”

Trout
Steve Gibson, Sarasota, FL                                      67.75”

Redfish
Leigh West, Tampa, FL                                           77.25”

Snook
Jay Wright, Orlando, FL                                         19.25”

Fly Angler Division-based on a point per inch format for redfish, snook, trout and multiple other species (no guides allowed in this division)

1st place-Fred McClendon Lithia, FL                      431 points
2nd place-Justin Hamblett, Sarasota, FL                 405 points
3rd place- Walt Plasson, Sarasota, FL                     342.5 points

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Historic Sinking of the USCGC Mohawk off Sanibel Island, Florida Creates First Dedicated Veterans Memorial Reef using a Military Ship

by on Jul.03, 2012, under Ft. Myers, Sanibel and Captiva

Coastal Conservation Association Florida and the Lee County Department of Natural Resources partnered to deploy the USCGC Mohawk to its final resting place. The 165-foot World War II Coast Guard Cutter, “Mohawk” was the last remaining ship of the Battle of the Atlantic.  The Mohawk was laid to rest in 90 feet of water on July 2, 2012 at 12:36 PM roughly 28 nautical miles off of Sanibel Island on Florida’s southwest coast, creating the first Veterans Memorial Reef dedicated to all U.S. veterans. The reef will be the new home to untold numbers of fish and other invertebrates living in the Gulf of Mexico.

CCA Florida chartered the 90’ “Great Getaway” that transported over 100 passengers to the deployment site. The passengers included USCG 2nd Class Petty Officer Edward March who served on the Mohawk for 15 months during WWII, his family, local veterans, members of the media, local and state dignitaries and elected officials as well as CCA members from across the state of Florida. “The feeling was surreal as the cutter slipped below the surface,” said CCA Chairman Jeff Miller. “This moment marked the ending to a long and historical life above water and the beginning of a new life as an artificial reef in the Gulf of Mexico.”

Fisherman and scuba divers alike are very excited about the new artificial reef. “With more fish in the Gulf of Mexico comes the need for more habitat,” said Don Roberts, CCA Florida Habitat Chairman. “The sinking of the Mohawk will bring a new home to fish and marine life as well as new opportunities for fishermen and scuba divers from all over the world. The ship was an amazing site and looked as if she was ready for action.”  The Mohawk was laid to rest with a fresh coat of wartime camouflage paint along with her anchor chains, props, replica guns, replica depth charges and a even a new whale boat was added. The official name of the reef is the U.S.S. Mohawk CGC Veterans Memorial Reef and the coordinates are 82°43’42.347″W 26°33’14.64″N.

The Mohawk was built in 1934 for patrol and icebreaking duties in the Hudson and Delaware rivers. During WWII, the USS Mohawk was commissioned for escort operations and traveled the world defending her country until 1945. The Mohawk launched 14 attacks on German submarines, rescued more than 300 survivors from torpedoed ships and was the last vessel to radio Gen. Dwight Eisenhower that the weather would be clear enough to launch the invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944.

“CCA Florida was honored to have the opportunity to participate in this historical event,” said Brian Gorski, CCA Florida Executive Director. “CCA Florida would like to thank Mike Campbell and the Lee County Department of Natural Resources for all of their time and effort in establishing the U.S.S. Mohawk CGC Veterans Memorial Reef.”

CCA Florida salutes the members that served on the USCGC Mohawk along with all other service men and women that have served or are currently serving to protect the United States of America.

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Commercial Netters Want Larger Mesh Size –Important Issue for Recreational Anglers

by on Mar.06, 2012, under FLORIDA'S BIG BEND AND EMERALD COAST, TAMPA BAY AND SOUTHWEST FLORIDA

If you were at the Florida Guides Association meeting on Sunday March 4, you heard FGA Captain and Board Member Gary Colecchio identify a new threat to the fishing resource. Some commercial netters are attempting to persuade the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commissions to allow larger mesh nets. Recreational anglers view this a way to work around the gill net ban.

CCA Florida has put out a call to action alerting the public to this issue. In their release CCA explains that a small group of commercial netters are going to county commissions and asking them to approve resolutions to the FWC urging them to increase the allowable mesh size. According to CCA, the netting group is not telling the whole story.

“CCA Florida has sent letters to the Governor’s Office and to all coastal County Commissioners providing information regarding the prohibition on the use of gill nets”, said Jeff Miller, CCA Florida Chairman of the Board. “We are concerned that Collier and other county commissions are not familiar with the history of FWC actions and the legal findings of fact in the previous lawsuits, so we have prepared a package of information on the past decisions that we have sent to the coastal County Commissions”.

The CCA Action Alert goes on to say that the measures being pushed by the netting group include a resolution which would allow net fishers to use a larger size mesh in their nets. However; all the current and best scientific information and testimony indicates that marine nets with mesh sizes exceeding two inches are gill nets. The critical factor in determining whether a net is a seine net or a gill net is mesh size. Modifying regulations to allow nets which exceed two inches stretched mesh would not be allowed by the net limitation amendment. Net studies, expert testimony and all court cases agree on that point.

“This is not a science question, the resource has rebounded. This constitutional amendment passed by a remarkable margin and our predecessors created a bright line definition, done objectively, and upheld in litigation,” said FWC Commissioner Ken Wright. “I am adamantly in favor of keeping the current two inch regulation. We are Trustees of a decision and bound to follow the will of the people”.

“Going to a larger mesh size has the intent of creating a gill net. We can’t point to a dog and call it a cat,” said FWC Commissioner Brian Yablonski. “We are bound by duty to the law and must respect the rule of law”.

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ECONOMIC REPORT SUPPORTS CCA FLORIDA’S OPPOSITION TO ANY INCREASE IN THE COMMERCIAL SEATROUT FISHERY

by on Nov.11, 2011, under CAPT. TOMMY'S BOOK SIGNINGS, TALKS, TRAVELS

The long awaited arrival of seatrout to reach its minimum management goal of 35% Spawning Potential Ratio (SPR), due in large measure to the support of the angling public and its voluntary adherence to size and bag limits, is to be celebrated. But it should not be taken as a green light to expand the fishery, additional take must be done with caution in mind. Increasing the commercial take of seatrout with large increases in the number of months of the commercial season, the use of beach and haul seines, the allowance of huge amounts of seatrout take as “by-catch”, and the rest of the amendments being proposed for the commercial fishermen are all simply bad ideas, not only from an economic/jobs perspective but also from a policy perspective. From an economic/jobs/recreational viewpoint, the better course in the long term would be to expand the allowable season for seatrout – and perhaps expand size and bag limits – for the angling public, rather than allowing increased significant take and sale by commercial fishermen.
CCA Florida has received an economic study that compares the value of the commercial seatrout fishery to the recreational seatrout fishery here in Florida. This study provides substantial evidence using MRFSS, NMFS, and FWC data that shows that CCA’s concerns over a directed commercial fishery on seatrout are valid. The value that the recreational directed fishery brings to Florida is just over $81 million compared to the value of the commercial fishery brings which is less than $300 thousand. The numbers of jobs and economic value associated with recreational seatrout fishing in Florida – from guides, to bait and tackle shops, to hotels, restaurants and gas stations – clearly indicate that promoting more recreational angling for seatrout, and not more commercial take of seatrout, is the wiser course.
Next week, on November 16th in Key Largo, FL the FWC Commissioners will have the opportunity to vote on several proposals that would expand the commercial seatrout fishery. These include, but are not limited to the possibility of adding beach and haul seine nets for a “by-catch” fishery and allowing year around sale of seatrout. CCA believes the FWC Commissioners should take the better course of action and do the right thing for the fish and the economy and keep the seatrout fishery as is.

For more information or if you would like to attend the FWC meeting please contact –
Trip Aukeman, Deputy Director Advocacy CCA Florida at (850)559-0060 or email taukeman@ccaflorida.org

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CCA FLORIDA GRASSROOTS ALERT! FLORIDA FISH AND WILDLIFE CONSERVATION COMMISSION CONSIDERS EXPANDING THE COMMERCIAL SEATROUT FISHERY

by on Oct.04, 2011, under CAPT. TOMMY'S BOOK SIGNINGS, TALKS, TRAVELS, FLORIDA'S BIG BEND AND EMERALD COAST, TAMPA BAY AND SOUTHWEST FLORIDA

CCA FLORIDA NEEDS YOUR SUPPORT

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation (FWC) Commissioners have requested their staff to work with the commercial Seatrout fisherman regarding the final rule that will be voted on during the November 17th meeting in Key Largo. The FWC is recommending a two month extension on the three month commercial fishery along with opening a five month fishery in the northwest zone during the winter months. They have also been requested to consider a by-catch allowance for incidental catch, and are considering increasing the boat limit from 75 fish to 150 fish as long as there are two licensed commercial fishermen in the boat.

These proposed rules are being made in conjunction with the proposed removal of the closed recreational months, resulting in one or two additional months depending on the section of Florida. CCA is in favor of the removal of the closed months for the recreational anglers because of the potential in increased spending from fishermen and the help to our economy, but we are concerned with the increase in commercial pressure. FWC estimates that the commercial take of Seatrout is currently just over 2%, and do not feel that these changes will cause this percentage to increase. CCA is concerned that these changes will result in additional harvest due to more commercial fishermen targeting Seatrout, as well as the additional months.

Recreational Seatrout fishing is one of the most popular fisheries among Florida residents along with many tourists that travel to Florida to catch these fish. South Carolina, Alabama, and Texas have all given “Game Fish Status” to Spotted Seatrout. Georgia has the same daily bag limit for both recreational and commercial fisherman. These four states have already set a precedent for how valuable the Seatrout fishery is for the recreational fisherman and the long term goal of CCA Florida is to see Seatrout granted “Game Fish Status” in this state as well.

Currently, Seatrout may be taken only by hook and line or by cast net. CCA Florida believes that this fishery should be a hook and line fishery only. During the colder months Seatrout congregate in the deep holes in rivers and creeks and become more susceptible to take especially from a cast net.

Contact the Commissioners by clicking (HERE) and let them know:
·         Not to expand the commercial Seatrout Fishery especially during the colder months
·         Remove Cast Nets as a form of acceptable gear
·         Do not allow a commercial by-catch limit of trout

For more information please contact –
Trip Aukeman Deputy Director Advocacy CCA Florida at (850)224-3474 or email taukeman@ccaflorida.org

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16th Annual CCA Sarasota “Photo All-Release Challenge”

by on Apr.20, 2011, under Bradenton and Sarasota

The Sarasota chapter of Coastal Conservation Association will host their 16th annual “Photo All-Release Challenge” fishing tournament on May 6th & 7th, 2011. This year’s tournament headquarters will be at the Potter Building at the Sarasota County Fairgrounds. There will be a mandatory angler meeting on Friday evening, May 6th at the Potter Building. The tournament features a catch-photo-release format for snook, redfish and trout with anglers using identical boxes of lures or flies that are provided. Fishing begins Saturday morning and all anglers must turn in their photos at New Pass Grill & Bait Shop by 3:00 pm.

Anglers will photograph their catch with their own digital cameras, which must have a removable memory card. Divisions include Grand Slam (largest snook, redfish and trout), Angler (most inches per species), Largest Fish (each species), Lady Angler (largest fish, each species), Fly Rod and Youth. The tournament, which raises money for CCA’s conservation projects, also features an upscale raffle, a silent auction and an awards dinner on Saturday evening. Cost is $85 per angler and $30 for youth anglers (12 years old and younger). Anglers must register in advance. Applications will be available at fishing tackle shops, marinas and boating stores in Sarasota and Manatee counties and online at

www.ccaflorida.org/chapters/sarasota.htmlContact Brian Gorski at (941) 531-4019 or Capt. Bruce Burkhart at (941) 922-3675 for more information.

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