In most parts of Florida, catching wild fish and game is a privilege. We enjoy their meats when we’re fortunate enough to get them, but they’re not a necessity for subsistence living. Conscientious anglers and hunters treat their quarry like the luxury that it is, both in how much we pay for it in time and expense and in how we care for the stocks by following state and in some cases, our own catch limits. The stocks are not, in the slightest sense, a commodity for our taking, but a valued and respected source of recreation and life.
There are, however, current imbalances in the way those stocks are apportioned between commercial and recreational interests. These inequities demand to be addressed. Recreational anglers are getting short-changed, and we want to change that. We’ve identified species whose stocks are considered so stressed that recreational angling has been significantly restricted for them, yet commercial harvesters, with their technological advantages, still maintain a huge and disproportionate catch quota for these same species.
If the stocks themselves are under pressure, as indicated by our government’s catch restrictions on them, why should we—recreational anglers and hunters—even consider supporting the market for these fish by buying them when we are so severely restricted by law in our efforts to fish for them ourselves? It doesn’t make any sense. What’s more, the commercial sale of these species puts a dangerously low price on their heads, a price produced by technologies of mass harvest, and a price out of all proportion to what we, as anglers, pay when catching them ourselves.
Let’s not support these markets. To protect them, to let the market reflect the true value of wild fish in the price for it, and to encourage a fair apportionment of their stocks, we propose a boycott of all purchases of the species listed below. In addition, we’ve pinpointed some other menu items to be avoided, for Florida-specific conservation reasons…
The article continues to identify ten species of fish we urge readers not to buy, and is now available at newsstands and tackle stores.
What do you think? Do you agree with the boycott? Will you participate? Are there any other species of fish or shellfish that you think should be off-limits to commercial purchase? And importantly, do you think this boycott might work to change government-mandated catch allocations of these species which currently favor commercial harvesters, and, in our opinion, shortchange recreational anglers? Or are we just tilting at windmills?