Grouper law change would be a mistake

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  1. #1
    Moderator Gary S. Colecchio's Avatar
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    Grouper law change would be a mistake

    Tallahassee Democrat 01/13/2012, Page C02

    Grouper law change would be a mistake


    The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is about to become the lap dog of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

    The NOAA is the parent federal group of the National Marine Fisheries Service, which administers the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council that controls fisheries in waters beyond state jurisdiction.

    The feds.

    The NOAA, not known for using science in its rule-making processes, has decreed that non-commercial fishermen (private individuals who plan on personally eating their catch) may only keep gag grouper caught in the Gulf of Mexico from July 1 through Oct. 31 when they fish nine miles or more offshore. Florida wants to adopt the same rules in state waters, fewer than nine miles offshore.

    Unfortunately gag grouper, the most popular and abundant of the inshore groupers, donít hang around in state waters during those hot, summer months. They migrate to cooler water beyond the nine-mile limit ... well beyond it. If youíre fortunate enough to have a big boat capable of safely fishing 50 or more miles out then there is no problem.

    Nor is there one if youíre a commercial fisherman who typically spends days offshore in deep water.

    The argument FWC makes is that enforcement will be easier if both grouper seasons match. According to the FWC website there are approximately 2.7 million non-commercial fishermen statewide ó who pay taxes via license fees to fish in saltwater, which in turn funds FWC people to enforce the rules, no matter how difficult that might be.

    These numbers include visitors, who along with the Joe Lunch Buckets, the guys and gals who put in their 40 or more hours each week and look forward to safely getting out on the water for a shot at some tasty grouper their family and friends can enjoy. They donít particularly want to hear someoneís excuse that ďitís too hard to enforce the rulesĒ when it comes to setting fishing seasons different from the federal ones. They just want to fish.

    By now youíve figured out that the feds have done exactly what we are asking the state to do. They established their gag grouper rules to coincide with when the grouper move into their area of operation. They didnít want to deal with recreational fishermen who might have caught a grouper or two in state waters and then wandered into the federal zone, as would be the case during spring and fall. That would be too hard. The NOAA rule-makers also knew very few recreational fishermen would be traveling 50 or more miles out (a three-hour run in moderate seas) into the Gulf to fish for just a few gag grouper, especially during the turbulent summer season. These guys ainít stupid.

    So come on Florida, call their bluff. Show them that, yes, enforcement might be a tad tougher, but itís more important that our rankand- file citizens be given a shot at the gags, just like the big boys. And oh by the way, our state economy needs the big bucks that shallowwater grouper fishing provides during the warmer months. By the time you figure in money spent for fuel, dockage, boating costs, actual boat, motor and trailer price tags, trailer/boat registrations and incidentals like bait, beverages and ice, youíre talking about a significant chunk of change. Add food, lodging, air fare, car rental, auto gas, charter/ guide fees and licensing for out-of-state visitors who come to Florida either to specifically fish for grouper or as a side attraction during their vacation, and youíre really talking money. Ask the folks in Apalachicola, Apalachee Bay, Keaton Beach and Steinhatchee (our little section of the Gulf Coast paradise) if they want to give up a significant part of their income because ďitís too hard to enforce the rules,Ē and I think you know the answer. And Governor Rick Scott, if youíre reading this, lots of jobs will be lost if we canít fish for grouper when they are here. The same thing goes for you legislators in town for session. Check with your fishing folks back home and see how they feel. (Hint: Call your local newspaperís outdoors person.) Hmmm, hereís a thought. Why not set the federal season to coincide with when the grouper are all in state waters? Then nobody will be fishing in the deep waters of the Gulf, because the grouper wonít be there.

    And close the Gulf to gag grouper fishing in the summer when the gags are there because they will be too far out to safely fish.

    And since very few ó if any ó anglers will be snatching them during the summer months, the grouper will be free to mate, thereby increasing the population. Isnít that the ultimate goal of fisheries management? Or am I being too simplistic?

    If any of you reading this want to attend the final rules meeting and make your feelings known to the commissioners, itís at the Pat Thomas Law Enforcement Academy Auditorium, U.S. Highway 90, east of Quincy. The meeting starts at 8:30 a.m., on Feb. 8. If you want to submit written comments, go to www.myfwc.com and follow the links under Saltwater Fishing.




    Jerr y Gerardi

    Outdoors



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  2. #2
    Senior Member Spineyman's Avatar
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    Our State does not have the intestinal fortitude to stand up to the Fed like the State of Texas did. They are too worried about the federal money kick backs instead of looking out for its citizens first and foremost.
    AKA Jiggin Junkie

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    if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.




  3. #3
    Senior Member harbison's Avatar
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    We need to make our opinion known:

    Mister Nick Wiley, Executive Director, FWC:
    Dear sir, It's time for our FWC to represent the best interest of the State of Florida.
    Un-supported, over-zealous, regulations has succeeded in bringing Florida's entire fishing community to a halt. Florida depends on tourist dollars. The NOAA, not known for using science in its rule-making processes, has decreed that non-commercial fishermen (private individuals who plan on personally eating their catch) may only keep gag grouper caught in the Gulf of Mexico from July 1 through Oct. 31 when they fish nine miles or more offshore. Florida wants to adopt the same rules in state waters, fewer than nine miles offshore. (Tallahassee Democrat) What this amounts to is that when gag migrate to State waters, they would be completely off limits to the recreational fisherman, including, spend my money in Florida, tourist. This, combined with a very short Summer only American red snapper season, means our tourist trade will spend their millions of dollars in places where they can actually catch & keep fresh fish, really fresh fish. Most, "fresh fish" in our markets are at least 10-12 days old. Just think what adds such as:
    "FLORIDA home of really fresh fish...you catch, you eat, the same day," could mean to our tourist trade. Do we really want our, or what should be our, tourist dollars spent in places like Texas?
    Texas state waters (extending 9 miles) has a year round open ARS season and a 4 per person bag limit. This flies directly in the face of Florida who was forced by amendment 30(b) to comply with federal regulations. Because of this, Texas is able to harvest a much larger percentage of the total ARS as compared to Florida. This is a major contributing factor to the shorter than average recreational season despite an increase in the TAC. (Tallahassee Democrat) This, along with a very extended Texas gag season is also, "A major contributing factor" in the loss of Florida's billion dollar tourist trade.
    It's time for our FWC to represent the best interest of the State of Florida, We, the peoples of Florida are, or should be, more important than the cash flow from NOAA!
    Bob Harbison Native recreational Florida fisherman & hunter
    Mister Wiley:
    Last edited by harbison; 01-22-2012 at 12:59 AM.

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    Correction:
    The total ARS TAC for many years INCLUDED Texas state water snapper, which BTW, was a miniscule amount compared to the total Gulf ARS harvest. Once the feds tried to force Florida and Texas kowtow to implementing federal regs in state waters, and Texas refused, did the Texas state water snapper supposedly become an issue. For example, in the 12 years prior to the "EDF-Crafted/Passed 2006 Magnuson", the entire Gulf rec fishermen UNDERFISHED our quota by an average of 100,000 pounds per year. Immediately after the "EDF-Crafted/Passed 2006 Magnuson", the feds claimed (in 2007) that we OVERFISHED our red snapper TAC by 1 MILLION POUNDS due to Texas' non-compliance with federal regs. Highly suspect, and the beginning of NMFS willful manipulation of the data in order to drive us off the water.

    Texas has NEVER harvested a much larger percentage of the total ARS as compared to Florida, NOR is the Texas state water snapper harvest a major contributing factor to the shorter than average recreational season. That honor belongs to Roy Crabtree's office, who claims that we were somehow able to catch MORE snapper this year than we did in those 12 years prior to the 2006 MSA, despite having 75% LESS time to do it, 50% LESS daily bag limit, and 20% LESS charter boats.

    Virtually impossible, but it's all they got.

    Capt. Thomas J. Hilton

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    Senior Member ANUMBER1's Avatar
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  6. #6
    Senior Member harbison's Avatar
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    Captain Hilton, I respect your opinion much more thn I do the Tallahassee Democrat. What exactly is the Tallahassee Democrat? Bob

  7. #7
    Senior Member CaptBobBryant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by harbison View Post
    Captain Hilton, I respect your opinion much more thn I do the Tallahassee Democrat. What exactly is the Tallahassee Democrat? Bob
    That would be a Newspaper in Tallahasse

    When are we the citizen fishermen going to wake up!
    We are the numbers (2.7 miilion in Florida alone)

    Since 2004 I have been saying we need to cut NMFS' data off at the knees and adopt a position of CIVIL diobedience.
    Citizens blockades of passes and ports.
    hundreds of protestors at every GMFMC meeting

    We are truly the silent majorty, unfortunately the most silent don't make a peep until it is too late.
    For the longest time the inshore versus offshore argument rang loudly, well now let's see what happens when basically the entire state water fishery for grouper is shut down. I know several charter captains who make a large protion of their year targeting inshore and nearshore grouper, this wil virtually put many of them out of business.

    There source of funds is us....maybe we need to show them that the money they receive form the FEDS is nothing compared to shutting off the spigot of money the flows directly form us to them.

    They always believe that they can do whatever they want and we will still fish (and spend our money). It is time to show them that this is a misguided notion in fact if you search, you really can't find exactly how much NMFS gives FWC each year. IT may or may not be more than the $40 million in licensure fees, or $1.8 Billion in sales taxes, $300 million in fuels taxes, or even more than the $150 million in bed tax revenue.

    It would be painful and the unfortuante thing is it woudl hurt our friends (tackle shop owners, charter captains, etc) much sooner than the numbnutz in government will feel it, but drasitc times call for drastic measures.

  8. #8
    Senior Member CaptBobBryant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by harbison View Post
    We need to make our opinion known:

    Mister Nick Wiley, Executive Director, FWC:
    Dear sir, It's time for our FWC to represent the best interest of the State of Florida.
    Un-supported, over-zealous, regulations has succeeded in bringing Florida's entire fishing community to a halt. Florida depends on tourist dollars. The NOAA, not known for using science in its rule-making processes, has decreed that non-commercial fishermen (private individuals who plan on personally eating their catch) may only keep gag grouper caught in the Gulf of Mexico from July 1 through Oct. 31 when they fish nine miles or more offshore. Florida wants to adopt the same rules in state waters, fewer than nine miles offshore. (Tallahassee Democrat) What this amounts to is that when gag migrate to State waters, they would be completely off limits to the recreational fisherman, including, spend my money in Florida, tourist. This, combined with a very short Summer only American red snapper season, means our tourist trade will spend their millions of dollars in places where they can actually catch & keep fresh fish, really fresh fish. Most, "fresh fish" in our markets are at least 10-12 days old. Just think what adds such as:
    "FLORIDA home of really fresh fish...you catch, you eat, the same day," could mean to our tourist trade. Do we really want our, or what should be our, tourist dollars spent in places like Texas?
    Texas state waters (extending 9 miles) has a year round open ARS season and a 4 per person bag limit. This flies directly in the face of Florida who was forced by amendment 30(b) to comply with federal regulations. Because of this, Texas is able to harvest a much larger percentage of the total ARS as compared to Florida. This is a major contributing factor to the shorter than average recreational season despite an increase in the TAC. (Tallahassee Democrat) This, along with a very extended Texas gag season is also, "A major contributing factor" in the loss of Florida's billion dollar tourist trade.
    It's time for our FWC to represent the best interest of the State of Florida, We, the peoples of Florida are, or should be, more important than the cash flow from NOAA!
    Bob Harbison Native recreational Florida fisherman & hunter
    Mister Wiley:
    Dear Mr. Wiley:
    I am writing to express my views on how wrongheaded it is for FWC to adopt the misguided NMFS proposed rules for grouper.
    By having state waters open for grouper form July 1 to November 1 you are basically closing the west coast state waters to all grouper fishing. This violates many of the National Standards set by the MSA-RA.
    Hasn't NMFS inflicted enough damage on the state already?
    Between July 1 and Oct 1 most groupers are in 100 feet or deeper. That is at least 35 miles for most of the west coast of Florida.
    Groupers are caught in state waters between November and May.
    A query of the NMFS catch data will reveal that to you.
    It is time that you and the rest of FWC grew a back bone and stood up for the citizens you were appointed to represent, the citizens of Florida. I should not have to remind you what fishing in this state means and to shut down grouper fishing in this state (during the height of tourist season) will be an unmitigatable disaster for our tourism and economy.
    When is the FWC going to start thinking for itself?

    Sincerely,
    Bob Bryant (Florida Citizen & Fisherman)
    Last edited by CaptBobBryant; 01-22-2012 at 10:13 AM.

  9. #9
    Senior Member CaptBobBryant's Avatar
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    Letter to the Gov

    Dear Gov Scott:
    Are you aware that the FWC is about to cave into the demands of NOAA and NMFS and in the process virtually destroy our state's tourism and status as the ultimate fishing destination.
    I have been watching all of the BP and Tourist development council ads showing that we are open for business and to come on down and that the fishing is great (and safe).
    Well I am hear to tell you that a single vote by FWC will destroy all of that and it is up to you to STOP IT.
    The FWC is planning on adopting rules for grouper that are similar to the federal rules. In a lot of cases this makes since from an enforcement standpoint, but from an economic one it is a disaster.
    The federal rules planned for 2012 is to have an open season from July 1 to November 1, during this time the waters are warm and most grouper can only be found in depths of 100' or greater or more specifically only in federal waters.
    If the state adopts these rules, then they will in effect completely shut down all grouper fishing in state waters. Grouper are caught in the shallower state waters in the months of November until May, this also coincides with the state's tourist season. Imagine for a moment a tourist season with no grouper!
    Florida is fishing and grouper are Florida's fish and for many visitors a chance to come to Florida and catch our prized fish is what their vacations are made of.
    It would be like Minnesota closing down northern pike during their tourist season.
    From an economic standpoint this will be a disaster and for what?
    To ease enforcement?
    There is certainly no scientific reason for the FWC to shut down the season during the only times when groupers can be caught in state waters.
    FWC has a history of kowtowing to the will of NOAA/NMFS all in the name of saving those precious few federal dollars that NMFS continually threatens us with. Well imagine the hundreds of millions and possibly billions it will cost the state in revenues and economic activity if FWC is allowed to make this terrible mistake.

    I implore you to listen to the citizens and visitors of this state and not to the misguided attempts by NMFS to BLACKMAIL the state of Florida into submission.

    What we do in our waters is none of NMFS's business this truly is a state's rights issues and an issue of vital economic importance to Florida.

    Tell your appointess to tell NMFS.....NO!....we will not shut down our most vital sportfishing resources during the height of our tourist season.

    A response is appreciated

    Sincerely,
    Bob Bryant

  10. #10
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    it sure isn't about the health of the gag stock, its all about the money. Its all about what is best for you, the rec fisherman, economic engine. What a bunch of hypocrites.

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