It would seem an impossibility, but the state has been planning to allow greatly increased commercial sales of spotted seatrout.

Surely we jest.

Haven’t fishing conservationists spent a quarter century gaining strong protections for this popular sportfish?

How could our government suddenly fall for clever lobbying by just a handful of trout-sellers who cry that it’s time to “give back” trout for the marketers?

Who will hold Florida’s future seatrout fishery?

Under the most recent and frankly amazing plan, commercial trout takers would get five-month open seasons, a doubled boat limit, and, get ready for this one, the legalized use of seine nets again.

Anglers are outraged, as they certainly should be.

The rule changes are to come up Nov. 16 at a Key Largo session of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. (See coverage in On the Conservation Front and at

The idea of expanding the commercial take came up, ironically, only because the fish populations did well after regulators cut back over-exploitation.

Do good work, get penalized for it.

At any rate, some of the FWC commissioners and staff completely disregard the concept of evaluating the “best use” of a stock.

They lock themselves into a mindset assuming that “user groups” must be handed old treats whether large market takes are best for society overall or not. The not is overwhelming, as with redfish and snook.

If we demand “best use” thinking over silly personal givebacks, this unwarranted commercial expansion will go the way of other special-interest moves.

The trout circus backfire developed out of a straight-forward and long delayed desire to eliminate three different, confusing closed periods on recreational trout angling. More for me, too, pleaded the sellers.

A trout stock assessment had reported that a minimum population goal was reached. Commercials seized on that to mean it was an end goal and now the for-sale ranks, and nets, could be opened wide.

Dark clouds of marketing excesses form once again, apparently, while the key principle of good wildlife management, no-sale, may have to await for more insightful officials. FS

Load Comments ( )

Don’t forget to sign up!

Get the Top Stories from Florida Sportsman Delivered to Your Inbox Every Week