May 16, 2011
Or should we suffer along under the theory that government is too important to be left to the people?
We heard that loud claim a decade ago, that voters shouldn't be allowed to consider the constitutional net ban. Leave such things to (non-elected) experts, it was argued.
We had seen, however, what the experts did to stop wanton gillnet slaughters. Nothing.
Now, 10 years after the gillnet ban enactment, we have been rewarded with spectacular recoveries of fish populations because of it. The success is a painful point of embarrassment to those bureaucrats who opposed the ban and are still around grumbling against it and trying to minimize the benefits.
Unfortunately, these non-elected fishery managers often control the federal system, and in certain places, state offices. They act arbitrarily, typically under commercial influence, with no direct reporting to elected officials.
That's why we must seek relief from legislators on all levels. Vote power.
It's noteworthy that two leading candidates for Florida governor, Charlie Crist and Tom Gallagher (alphabetically speaking, of course), have taken powerful positions on two crucial issues of importance to anglers.
In the first instance, Attorney General Crist intervened in the Florida Legislature's talks about an out-in-left-field bill designed to get around the net-ban amendment. No, Crist advised, in the strongest terms possible. That's not your jurisdiction or power.
Chief Financial Officer Gallagher's action was not publicized but is no less important. He advised state authorities that a pending plan to ban all levels of fishing in nearly half of the Tortugas National Park would be ill-advised and would undermine valuable recreational interests of citizens.
Crist and Gallagher show that elected vertebrates can stand tall and look beyond the narrow exploitation interests that so often bind up the hired hands who answer to virtually no one.
Certainly we should direct more of our advocacy to the folks who make laws and set budgets, all under the watchful eye of citizens.
But we may not need to pump fists and shout. Quiet, firm votes will do just fine.