Net Fight

By: Jason Davis
By: Jason Davis

Florida's Constitution was amended in '94 in an effort preserve marine life.

The interpretation of that amendment is still going and it found its way to Bay County when the Florida Wildlife Commission met to take a vote how they would continue to regulate fish nets in Florida waters.

The fisherman on hand and the FWC are far from seeing eye to eye on this issue.

Ever since the amendment in 94 fishermen in Florida been have going back and forth with the FWC on it interpretation.

Henry Cabbage of FWC Media Relations says, "The Fish and Wildlife Commission has defined a gill or entangling net with greater than two-inch stretch mesh. That's not an arbitrary definition. That's based on the standard that came from the fishing industry."

Ronald Crum, who heads the Fishermen for Freedom, says the commission is hurting the fishing industry in more ways than one.

Ronald Crum of Fishermen for Freedom, says, "Yes, I’m upset with a net that was put on us to kill the fish, destroy the environment and hurt the working people of this state."

Crum says the FWC should have done a socio-economic study prior to proposing any regulations on fish nets. When he confronted them about this, Crum was far from pleased with their response.

"It's irrelevant to the impact of African Americans and food stamp recipients and other poor people. Law requires them to consider those people with studies and they said irrelevant. If everything we talk about is irrelevant but the political goals of the wealthy."

For him the issue doesn't end here. Crum plans to take this one all the way to Tallahassee.

"We're gonna be at the Capitol. I'm gonna get white robe, seven of them for each commissioner. If they pass this rule, I'll have white robes there ‘cause clearly I asked them the question. This is just like mistreating African Americans in the past.

The commission voted Thursday to consolidate all of the language relating to nets into one set of rules. They also plan to form a networking group to further explore interpretations of that amendment.


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