Here’s a somewhat common refrain we hear from well-meaning citizens: “Let’s stop the finger pointing and all work together…” At that point there come a few murmurs of agreement. Can’t we all sit down in a big room and work out our differences? After all, we’re responsible adults.
I really hope I’m dead wrong on this. It would be so much more fun for the communities to keep pretending that great things are coming for the estuaries and Everglades. But the sad truth, I’m afraid, is that we’re going to get much more of the pollution and killing waters from inland that have devastated us over a half century. Some call it Bull Sugar.
With the million-dollar sugar babies still running the show, it may seem impossible to stop the polluting discharges bombarding the coasts and sucking dry the Everglades. And yet there seems to be a sense of momentum for change in the air.
Sure, we’ve crabbed an awful lot about outdoors management failures over a half century. But let’s also remember the victories, and take note of an ever-growing conservation mindset. You most likely have taken part in the move to manage wildlife for sustainable use and basically non-profit purposes. Many wildlife leaders have joined this newthink.
It’s been a dangerous period for one of Florida’s most important fishes, the spotted seatrout, commonly just called trout. First, the state virtually doubled the commercial take of trout and came within a whisker of allowing seine nets back in the fishery. And then a rural north Florida judge attempted to upset the historic Gillnet Ban, which would have clobbered trout by the ton.
When I entered my so-called Golden Age, very reluctantly, I figured that at least there would be one nice perk. No fishing license needed from then on. But some perks should end, and the age-65 fishing license exemption is one free ride that we can drop, voluntarily.
Leadeth me, please, not to the still waters of Psalms fame but to moving waters, where fish usually hang out. Most of us, I’m afraid, tend to seek out flat calm areas and shiny shorelines because they just look fishy, and it’s good to get out of whatever wind may be huffing.
“They sugar coat even the name: Limited Entry. A better name would be Limited Vision. Even more accurate: Unlimited Giveaway. “By whatever title, the idea is to hand over fishing rights to a select few commercial fishers. These are the same fishers, by the way, who decimated stocks in the first place.”
Like getting rear-ended out of nowhere, the fishing community has been hit with the unthinkable. Florida’s historic net ban, considered the most important fisheries reform ever, suddenly was struck down by a rural judge friendly to a few commercial interests. Whack.
Keep that asterisk handy, though there seem to be at least two happy developments in the government’s ever- lasting deliberations about new fisheries regulations for Biscayne National Park. First, that 10,000-acre total-no-take zone proposed for Park waters east of Miami has been deep sixed, probably for good.
Yeah, the politics of fisheries can be a drag, and not the kind of drag that makes sweet singing from your trusty fishing reel. But both types of drags are closely related, we suggest. Your success on the water in 2014 may well be linked to what happens in sterile offices and hearing rooms.
Our Openers column must have been lost in the mail—from seven years ago. But, no, it did run in August 2006 and seems eerily applicable to today. Also applicable today is government’s continuing failure to address the main estuary and Everglades crises.
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