FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: CONTACT: Ted Forsgren
November 6, 2013 (407)702-3567
CCA JOINS THE COURT BATTLE AGAINST COMMERCIAL GILL NETTERS’ SLAUGHTER OF SPAWNING MULLET
Today, CCA Florida filed in Florida’s First District Court of Appeal on the side of the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to ask the appellate court to reverse Judge Jackie Lee Fulford’s order allowing gill netting in state waters. “CCA will spend every penny in its coffers to protect the constitutional ban on gill netting,” said CCA Chairman, Jim Williams. Last week, the Leon County Circuit Judge vacated an automatic stay of her controversial order of October 22nd enjoining statewide enforcement of the State’s 18 year old net ban. In doing so, she has assured an open season on Florida mullet stocks during the current spawning run. She has thumbed her nose at the citizens of the State of Florida who passed the constitutional amendment limiting marine net fishing in 1994 by a 72% margin.
The stay became automatic when the FWC filed an appeal of her net ban order. Lawyers for the Wakulla Commercial Fisherman’s Association moved to vacate the stay and Fulford granted the motion. CCA Florida stated that she has no idea how much damage she is causing by preventing the enforcement of the ban on gill nets.
The Court does not seem to understand the ecological importance of the mullet fishery for Florida’s inshore predatory species. Every species of predator fish eats mullet. Juvenile mullet exist by the millions in Florida estuaries as forage food for redfish, spotted sea trout, flounder, snook, tarpon, and many other species. The claim that “baby fish” are caught in smaller mesh nets is just a ploy created by the commercial netters. The tiny amounts described by the netters pale in comparison to the amount of juvenile fish taken by inshore predator fish. The only way to damage the mullet fishery is to overfish the spawning adults with three inch mesh or greater gill nets which is exactly what was happening before the ban on gill nets. Commercial gill netters favor these larger fish because they make more money.
In her initial ruling, the Judge noted that her, “…decision could in the interim, cause some turmoil.” CCA’s Ted Forsgren called her comment a huge understatement. “The massive schools of spawning mullet will be slaughtered by hundreds of netters returning to the coastline with their huge gill nets” said Forsgren. “Commercial netters from North Carolina to Louisiana are swarming to Florida to net the spawning fish.”
“Fulford’s ruling turns the gill netters loose on the spawners” said Forsgren. Millions of pounds of these roe filled (pregnant) mullet will be taken causing untold damage to mullet and other fisheries. In addition to spawning mullet, gill nets destroy other fish like snook, trout & redfish that are often found within the mullet aggregation.
“We trust that the First District Court of Appeal will rule quickly with the FWC and support common sense regulations that have protected Florida’s fisheries for the last 18 years,” said Williams.
To help fight this battle and donate to the “Gill Net Ban Legal Fund” visit www.ccaflorida.org
Join CCA Florida today at www.joinccaflorida.org