November 2018 - Over the past several years, CCA Florida has heard comments from a number of guides regarding the legality and practice of allowing their clients to catch and retain the guides “limit” of fish while on a charter. Those of you that have made the decision to help conserve the fisheries by allowing your clients to retain only their legal limit are sometimes told that other guides may allow their customers to also keep the guide’s limit, and that they would use one of those other guides the next time they book a trip so they can keep the extra fish.
Guides have asked us to help by working with FWC and creating a rule that would not allow harvest of inshore fish, especially redfish and trout, by a guide while on a paid charter. This rule is already in place as it pertains to snook and permit. This is a conservation effort that many guides believe will help the fishery for years to come.
Below, please find a letter sent to the FWC regarding this issue.
November 28, 2018
Commissioner Bo Rivard
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
620 South Meridian Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1600
Dear Chairman Rivard and FWC Commissioners,
For over 30 years, CCA Florida has been a voice for conservation of our marine resources. We advocate for reductions when needed, as well as push for access when supported by science. CCA and our members are also a concerned group when it comes to the gear used to harvest fish.
During a recent Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting, a group of commercial fishermen spoke about creating a legal trap fishery for black sea bass in Gulf Federal waters. This would be an extension of the current black seabass fishery allowed within Florida’s state waters. A fishery that has no commercial limits regarding size or bag limit in Gulf State waters.
In 1980 the Florida Legislature banned all fish traps in Florida coastal waters except for pinfish traps and black seabass traps. In 1991 the South Atlantic Fisheries Management Council banned fish traps except for black seabass traps and in 1996 the Gulf of Mexico Federal Fisheries Management Council ban the use of all fish traps in federal waters off Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. The Council also implemented a phase out program ending in 2006 for the federal waters off of Florida. Since the ban in Gulf waters, a group of stone crab fisherman have created a winter business using slightly modified crab traps to catch black sea bass in federal waters and are calling it by-catch. While it is not illegal, because by-catch is allowed, it is morally wrong and shows a disregard for fisheries management. These traps, when lost, will continue to catch and kill untold numbers of fish and other marine life for years to come.
On behalf of our members, CCA Florida respectfully asks the Commission to maintain your longstanding opposition to fish traps, as well as implementing a catch limit on the commercial black seabass fishery in state waters. We also ask that you not allow for the bycatch of finfish with blue crab or stone crab traps in Gulf federal waters.
CCA Director of Advocacy
Executive Director Sutton
He is the winner in the 2018 Contender Raffle!
He's a Life Member and he's taking home a brand new Contender Boats 28 Tournament with twin 175 HP Yamaha Outboards and a custom AmeraTrail trailer.
Thank you to our partners at Contender Boats for their continued dedication, which helped to raise over $170,000 to support conservation initiatives!
Visit our Facebook page to see the ways these donations are making a difference in the conservation of our marine resources!
“Duke Energy is committed to environmental stewardship,” said Eric Latimer, Duke Energy Florida Mariculture Center Manager. “Fish mortalities associated with the current red tide bloom in southwest Florida have broad impacts, both to our state’s interconnected biological systems and to the people that make a living from and enjoy our natural resources. We are proud to play a small part in the solution by restocking fish that will contribute to the overall restoration of the affected areas.”
"We appreciate the valuable support from CCA Florida and Duke Energy in helping enhance our world class redfish fishery," said Eric Sutton, FWC Executive Director. "This team effort will benefit conservation, outdoor recreation and the state's economy in many ways."
In addition to the stocking enhancement initiative, CCA Florida and FWC are encouraging anglers to help all inshore populations by releasing their catch. This summer, CCA Florida launched the “Release Them For Tomorrow” campaign as a way to support several species’ growth through catch and release. “It’s going to take everyone doing their part to get our fisheries back to health,” stated Gorski. Anglers are encouraged to share the message by tagging their social media photos, comments and messages with the hashtag #ReleaseThemForTomorrow to show their support. Anglers can become engaged by joining CCA Florida at JoinCCA.org. For more information, visit the Facebook page or ccaflorida.org.
Angling community applauds legislation to deflate algal blooms
HR 6645 would reauthorize programs to assess and control damaging hypoxia events
Recreational anglers are lending their support to a bill that proposes to advance the scientific understanding of harmful algal blooms and improve methods to detect, monitor and assess the damage associated with such events. Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL) has introduced HR 6645, the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act (HABHRCA) of 2018, which would establish the Greater Everglades Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Assessment, and facilitate development of an action plan to address, mitigate and control future harmful blooms in this environmentally sensitive area.
“What is happening off the coast of Florida this year can only be described as a tragedy and has been devastating to our marine ecosystem,” said Brian Gorski, executive director of CCA Florida. “CCA Florida is pleased to support this legislation from Rep. Mast because we need to use every available tool at our disposal to control and prevent these kinds of ecological disasters in the future if at all possible.”
No more than two years after passage, HR 6645 calls for an inter-agency task force to develop and submit to Congress a plan for reducing, mitigating and controlling harmful algal blooms and hypoxia in the Greater Everglades Region and provide biennial progress reports on all activities undertaken to achieve the objectives of the plan. The bill also increases the annual reauthorization of appropriation for the National Harmful Algal Blooms and Hypoxia Program to $22 million.
“The only shortcoming to any plan that makes more resources available todayto address this problem is that Congress and the state didn’t do it 20 years ago,” said Gorski. “The water situation in Florida is a catastrophe and it has made it crystal clear how closely tied our economy and quality of life is to our marine environment. We are grateful to Rep. Mast for his efforts to get a handle on Florida’s water quality issues and we urge Congress to pass this legislation as quickly as possible.”
The full letter is below.
September 4, 2018
The Honorable Brian Mast
U.S. House of Representatives
2182 Rayburn House Office Building Washington, DC 20515
Dear Representative Mast:
On behalf of the millions of Americans who enjoy recreational fishing and boating and the tens of thousands of businesses they support, we are writing to express our strong support for H.R. 6645, the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act (HABHRCA) of 2018.
Your legislation, as well as H.R. 4417, the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act of 2017, is critically important to advancing the scientific understanding and ability to detect, monitor, assess, and predict harmful algal blooms (HABs).As we’ve recently witnessed in South Florida, the Great Lakes and many other parts of the country, HABs have a severe impact on fish populations, fisheries habitats and even human health. Not only are entire ecosystems suffering as a result, but the economic losses continue to mount as local businesses that depend on access to healthy aquatic systems are negatively impacted as well.
Building upon action plans required in the previous reauthorization of HABHRCA, this bill recognizes the ongoing frequency and severity of HABs in South Florida by establishing the Greater Everglades Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Assessment and the subsequent development of an action plan to address, mitigate and control future HABs in this environmentally important area.
In addition to South Florida, these events gravely impact freshwater habitats in rivers and lakes throughout the country, especially in the Great Lakes region. Thus, we are pleased to see your bill reauthorize the National Harmful Algal Blooms and Hypoxia Program and the federal interagency working group, which would allow the group to continue building upon its success of developing and implementing action plans to address harmful algal blooms.
Once again, thank you for your efforts on this important issue, and we appreciate your continued leadership in support of clean water and healthy fisheries. We look forward to working with you to ensure H.R. 6645’s passage.
American Sportfishing Association
Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (B.A.S.S)
Center for Sportfishing Policy
Coastal Conservation Association
Coastal Conservation Association Florida
Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation
Florida Guides Association
Future Angler Foundation
Great Lakes Fishery Commission
Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation
International Game Fish Association
Jersey Coast Anglers Association
Kenai River Sportfishing Association
Marine Retailers Association of the Americas
National Association of Charterboat Operators (NACO) National Marine Manufacturers Association
National Professional Anglers Association
Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association Recreational Fishing Alliance
Snook and Gamefish Foundation
Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership