Governor Rick Scott Nick Wiley
Governor of the State of Florida Executive Director, Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission
November 10, 2011
In one way or another, each of us are involved with the fish swimming in Florida's beautiful yet environmentally vulnerable waters. On November 16th, a final hearing in Key Largo held by Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission (FWC) could have devastating impact on our State's fisheries, jobs, and environment. We need your help to delay an upcoming FWC decision that seems destined to pass without your combined and immediate help. I have spoken to Kumar Mahadeva from Mote about the issue and the doctor will supply any necessary scientific data we need to support our request.
At question is a regulation change that will open our shallow estuarine waters to the commercial harvest of spotted sea trout. The species is easy to catch and is the target of many newcomers to our beloved sport; both tourists and residents. The claim put forth by the commercial anglers seeking the change is that they're already killing the species as by-catch in mullet harvests. If that's true as stated, we ask what other species are being killed without all of us knowing? Furthermore, the proposed changes will promote the sale of spotted sea trout year-round at local fish houses. The flesh does not freeze well, and will end up as cat food or garden emulsions.
A recent media event that several of us attended in Sarasota included a presentation by Southworth Associates. In it Mr. Southworth estimates that saltwater (recreational) fishing in Florida represents 27% of all recreational fishing in the US, generates $3.3 billion in retail revenue, creates 54,000 jobs, and produces $345 million in State tax revenues. In our opinion, commercially netting those trout will have a direct measurable and negative impact on those numbers. The commercial value of those recreational trout must be compared to any unsubstantiated commercial harvests.
Moving on from the financial impact, the long-term damage to our fragile environment of the change cannot be over-stated. While many of us signing this letter do not agree on exactly how our vulnerable fisheries need to be managed, not one of us are opposed to sound scientific data resulting in sustainable resources.
We share many commonalities concerning commercial fishery management as well as recreational. We know the importance of commercial fishing to our tables, our way of life, and our state economy. In this instance, however, a small number of fishermen have much to gain and our state, our sport and related industries, and the species itself much to lose. The passage of this regulatory change doesn't pass the smell test gentlemen, and we ask only that the final decision be delayed until we can prove our point and do a comparison of financial and environmental impact with real numbers, not computer models.
To date we have been ignored by the FWC bureaucracy in charge. If you were to survey the anglers and scientists within FWC proper, we are confident they would agree with our request.
We hope for your immediate attention to this critical economic and environmental matter. I can be reached for questions in Saint Petersburg, Florida at (727) 480-2287.
Gary Poyssick, Publisher, TheOnlineFisherman.com, Communications Director Florida RFA
Captain Rodney Smith, Founder and Publisher of Coastal Angler Magazine
Jimmy Donifrio, Founder and Executive Director of The Recreational Fishing Alliance
Captain Scott Moore, Founder of the Florida Guides Association
To this, my name would have been added to but due to time constraints and permissions, from the above signings, of this letter to the Governor of Florida, I did not get that chance BUT I WOULD HAVE SIGNED BOLDLY; Gary A. Anderson, Fishing Rights Advocate, Exploratory Candidate US Senate Fl and as myself, The Mentoring Angler.