June 01, 2011
No wildlife taken under recreational terms or management may be bought or sold.
That should be simple enough.
It would be a one-sentence law that would clear up a lot of confusion.
Of course, many folks think no sales by recreationals already is the law, and indeed it is for the average angler out there.
Unfortunately, the dirty big secret is that tons and tons of fish taken on recreational trips are sold through “back door” traffic, much of it apparently legal and a bunch more illegal on the sly.
Too often, sales by charter captains and crews involve fish and lobsters that were caught by recreationals under recreational management but then shunted into the commercial stream, with or without the anglers' knowledge.
It's a practice that many other captains themselves frown at but usually fail to speak up against.
A fog of misunderstanding blocks the public view and prevents possible reform.
And out of the foggy situation comes all kinds of abuses, as shown in recent arrests in Key West that shocked the fishing community and even resulted in nabbing a sheriff's deputy and a state law enforcement officer.
See On the Conservation Front in this issue, to be followed by other Florida Sportsman coverage as we explore this commonly hushed-up subject.
You can understand the temptations that typical private anglers feel when they know that for-hire operators can and do sell the same bag-limit fish that they may not.
Captains maintain commercial licenses, for sure, but that should be for true commercial activity only, not for selling fish caught by their recreational sport fishermen.
“You should be one or the other—sport or commercial,” is a common opinion we endorse.
Let's get through this jungle of often illegal selling.
Adopt that clear and straightforward law. Wink no more.