Openers May 2012
Let’s roll ahead with a solid, strong campaign to stop all sales of saltwater trout in Florida.
We’ve been beaten down long enough by a just a handful of commercial interests who somehow got the state’s ear. Instead of moving forward to eliminate, or at least reduce, trout sales, the wildlife commission is actually doubling the market take of trout while totally ignoring the better alternative of prohibiting sales.
The conservation vehicle was thrown into reverse.
Now, we need a bold, pro-active approach without belated pretty-please responses to insider lobbying in North Florida.
A new approach can be a decisive victory for the fishing community and for the resource, just as were the no-sale gamefish win for redfish in 1989 and the gillnet elimination in 1995.
We’re certain that grassroots anglers and the general public overwhelmingly support complete trout protection. But the influence by a few fish sellers in the right places derailed the staff and commission majority of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Yes, while it’s true that the commission at the last minute scratched its plan to re-introduce commercial netting in the trout fishery, it did double the boat-limit of market trout and extend the selling season. And yes, it’s true that the reported sales take is relatively small. The sales conduit, however, opens doors for damaging unlawful selling and lessens protection for this great species.
The spotted seatrout is often considered the state’s premier inshore family fish, enjoyed statewide and doing well only because of the gillnet ban and strict recreational limits. We should share these fish equally, producing the most benefits in every way.
Texas had the good sense to ban all trout sales more than 30 years ago and Louisiana did virtually the same. Recently, North Carolina, which is a traditional jungle of runaway commercial exploitation, has entertained a bill that would give gamefish status to trout.
Our surprising and somewhat strange setback in Florida should be our wake-up call to get moving.
No-sale gamefish status for Florida trout. Yes.