On February 13-14, 2013, FWC Commissioners will meet in Orlando to discuss a proposed rule 68B-2.010: Saltwater Game Fish and Sport Fish Designations. If you have not yet been filled in, the proposed rule intends to “highlight the unique and diverse recreational fishing opportunities that exist around the state and contribute to the state’s status as the “Fishing Capital of the World.”
In a nutshell, fish species labeled as “game fish” will be protected from commercial harvest as well as purchase and sale. Fish species labeled as “sport fish” will be given a catch-and-release only status. The proposed rule will not list species as “game fish or sport fish,” rather just create the designations, species to be added at a later date. Species which may be discussed later under the “game fish” designation include snook, trout and redfish, while fish considered for the “sport fish” designation include permit, tarpon, bonefish and billfish.
While the FWC says this proposal will help to highlight and conserve Florida’s saltwater fishery, Florida Sportsman conservation blogger Charles Mann helps shed some light on why this proposal might be less beneficial than it first appears.
In a letter to FWC Commissioners, Mann opens by stating that, “With so many important management issues in this current day and age, it is incredibly disheartening to see the Commission wasting time and resources on such an effort.”
Mann goes on to explain that while deeming a fish as a “sport fish” or “game fish” may be beneficial to one group of anglers or region, it certainly will not appeal to all. “For example, the small possible economic impact that might be achieved in the Keys by designating permit a “sport fish” will likely be outweighed by the negative impact throughout the rest of the state where many anglers like to harvest the occasional permit,” Mann said. “Additionally, most of the species being considered for designation already have an elevated status in the eyes of visiting anglers. Therefore, it’s highly doubtful that this rule will do much, if anything, to enhance Florida’s reputation as a “Sportfishing Capital”, but rather, is likely to cause continued fracturing amongst recreational anglers.”
Mann notes, most importantly, “I see no process or procedure in the proposed rule as to how a species will be designated a “game fish” or “sport fish”…Without some framework in place, I don’t see how the Commission can adopt this rule.”
There is much to question when it comes to the nuts and bolts of this proposal. Who would be making these critical decisions? What other, more pressing issues are being neglected? Luckily, it’s not too late to voice your opinion to our commissioners. You may find their contact information, including e-mail addresses, at www.myfwc.com/Commission.