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Capt. Tommy Thompson's Saltwater Angler's Guides

Tag: net ban

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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Florida Net Ban Back in Action, November 7, 2013

by on Nov.08, 2013, under FLORIDA'S BIG BEND AND EMERALD COAST, TAMPA BAY AND SOUTHWEST FLORIDA

From: Frank Sargeant, Editor, The Fishing Wire:

Fast action by Florida’s Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission likely limited the damage done to Florida’s mullet stocks as the agency won a stay in the First District Court of Appeals against the ruling of Leon County District Court Judge Jackie Fulford opening statewide gill net fishing for the first time in 18 years. The ruling was passed down late Wednesday-gillnets are once again illegal.

Not to say that FFWCC enforcement officers will immediately start issuing tickets to netters who decide to push the envelope a bit, unfortunately.

Colonel Calvin Adams, Jr., FWC’s director of enforcement, issued a directive ordering all officers immediately to begin enforcing the net ban, but to do so with discretion:

“We should all be aware that this continues to be a sensitive issue. With the First District Court of Appeals overruling the Circuit Judge’s most recent order there is great potential for confusion among fishermen and other members of the public. FWC’s standard of excellence through the exercise of fair and impartial judgment is expected in all interactions.

“Officers should use ample discretion and seek to educate any fishermen that may have misinformation or be unclear on the current circumstances. In situations where that might not be sufficient, use the appropriate skills acquired through your training and education to enforce the law.”

Bottom line is that a few netters are probably going to slide by for a few more days with heavy catches, but at least the major onslaught appears at an end for now.

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