Biscayne National Parks (BNP) new preferred alternative for its Draft General Management Plan (GMP) provides some relief for recreational anglers from the previous alternatives. In the past, CCA Florida has seen alternatives introduced by BNP that would close vast areas to fishing and boating enthusiasts. CCA Florida is relieved to see that the preferred alternative has removed the previous large, no fishing zones and reduced the size of the no motor zones. CCA Florida objected to these closures and believes that such closures should be seen as the last resort and not a starting point.
Alternative 6 establishes a Special Recreational Zone (SRZ) in place of the no fishing zone. Angler access to the SRZ will be by permit only and the plan will allow for 500 annual permits to be issued. Out of the 500 permits, 430 will be put into a lottery system for recreational anglers and 70 will be for licensed guides.
CCA FLORIDA STRONGLY OPPOSES THE USE OF
MERRITT ISLAND NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE AND MOSQUITO LAGOON AREA FOR PRIVATE, COMMERCIAL SPACE LAUNCH SITE!
MAJOR ADVERSE IMPACTS ARE EXPECTED ON EVIRONMENTAL RESOURCES, CRITICAL HABITAT, AND PUBLIC ANGLER ACCESS.
OPPOSE THE USE OF PUBLICLY OWNED WILDLIFE REFUGE LANDS FOR COMMERCIAL LAUNCH SITES.
ACT NOW! SEND YOUR EMAIL COMMENTS AND ATTEND UPCOMING PUBLIC HEARINGS ON FEB. 11 AND 12!
REASONS TO OPPOSE THE PROPOSAL
The area encompassing Mosquito Lagoon, the northern reaches of the Indian River Lagoon, the Canaveral National Seashore and Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge are essentially the most pristine lands and waters left along Florida’s east coast. The area is also essential habitat for many birds and aquatic animals, some of which are endangered or federally protected. A large number of anglers, hunters, bird watchers, manatee watchers, paddlers and other wildlife and outdoor enthusiasts consider the area a prime destination for their avocations. The economic benefit from those enthusiasts to the State of Florida and those who live in the vicinity is immense, which is to say nothing of the tremendous recreational benefits conferred upon those enthusiasts by experiencing the area in what is largely its natural condition.
It’s called the “Friday news dump.”
The White House, other federal agencies and even public corporations have often set the release of bad news and unflattering documents to late Friday afternoon in the hopes that whatever is being released will be ignored or missed or forgotten over the course of the weekend.
Got a scandal? Dump it on Friday.
Got a controversy? Dump it on Friday.
Got a federal policy disaster? Dump it on Friday.
BISCAYNE NATIONAL PARK PUBLIC COMMENT
DECEMBER 9th, 10th & 11th
Biscayne National Park will hold three public comment sessions next week concerning its “Supplemental Draft General Management Plan” (GMP). CCA Florida encourages you to attend and voice your opinion. The National Park Service (NPS) GMP contains seven alternatives, two of which are new. Alternatives 6 and 7 each establish a “Special Recreation Zone” (SRZ). Under Alternative 6 the following rules will apply within the SRZ:
Under Alternative 6 access to the SRZ will be allowed based upon a limited number of annual permits (430 to recreational fishermen / 70 to guides / none for spear fishing). Alternative 7 is essentially identical to Alternative 6 except that it allows general access to the SRZ, but, it is completely closed to fishing during the summer months.
Alternate 6 is the NPS new preferred alternative and it eliminates the large marine reserve (no fishing zone) that was universally rejected by Florida's recreational anglers. The preferred alternative also removes the large no combustion engine zones and in their place includes slow-speed and no-wake zones.
CCA has concerns with the new preferred alternative offering such a limited number of annual permits. The plan does not require the permit to be used or forfeited; nor, does it allow for the issuance of short-term permits.
Shared permits would allow for more access and should include short duration access for visitors, including out of state anglers that desire to fish the Park as part of their vacation. The Preferred Alternative prohibits anchoring within the SRZ except when attached to a mooring buoy. Since there are very few of these mooring buoys currently in place, users will be effectively prohibited from fishing in many instances. CCA believes the NPS must also include a plan and fund additional mooring buoys to provide realistic access and avoid user conflicts. If, as suggested in the plan, there is concern for the SRZ’s grouper population, descending devices could be required. The NPS should also consider limited access for seasonal trolling for pelagic species.
The NPS needs to address concerns of those who spearfish or fish east of the Park's boundary and that transit through the Park's SRZ as they return to port. Thus, direct transit through the SRZ with disallowed gear stowed should be permitted.
The NPS will hold three public comment sessions. All interested parties are encouraged to attend at least one of the three identical public meetings as follows:
1. December 9th, 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Newman Alumni Center, University of Miami, 6200 San Amaro Drive, Coral Gables, FL
2. December 10th, 6:00 -9:00 p.m.
City Hall, Commission Chambers, 404 West Palm Drive, Florida City, FL
3. December 11th, 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Holiday Inn Key Largo, 99701 Overseas Highway, Key Largo, FL
CCA Florida encourages you to attend and voice your concerns regarding the Preferred Alternative. Ask the NPS to increase the number of SRZ permits, set aside a number of permits for shared use including seasonal or split day access and require that permits which are not used within an established time period to be available for reassignment. Tell the NPS that the prohibition on anchoring should not be implemented until funding and installation of mooring buoys is undertaken. The Park Service must also provide for through transit of those who have legally taken fish outside the SRZ.
If you are unable to attend one of the comment sessions, please click here to review the GMP and electronically provide your comments.
WASHINGTON, DC (11-15-13) – The latest hearing on the reauthorization of the Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) took an encouraging turn yesterday as it became clear that something must be done to address shortcomings in the law as it relates to the management of recreational fisheries.
“I think the biggest take away from the testimony we will hear today is that Magnuson-Stevens, as currently drafted, simply does not work for the recreational fishing community,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fl). “Faced with concerns over allocation and uncertain seasons – in some cases in the South Atlantic, no season at all! – our recreational fishermen have lost any semblance of faith in the federal management system.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: CONTACT: Ted Forsgren
November 6, 2013 (407)702-3567
FIRST DISTRICT COURT OF APPEALS RULES
TO REINSTATE THE STAY AND TAKE GILL NETS BACK OUT OF THE WATER
Late this afternoon the First District Court of Appeals (1st DCA) ruled in favor of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and reinstated the automatic stay that was ordered to be removed by Judge Fulford late last week. The removal of the stay by Judge Fulford allowed commercial netters to wage an assault on our fisheries for almost a week. Commercial netters flocked to Florida from Louisiana, Georgia, Alabama and North Carolina to participate in the gill net assault on Florida’s fisheries.
BY ORDER OF THE COURT:
The appellant’s motion for reinstatement of automatic stay filed October 31, 2013, is granted, and the automatic stay imposed by Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.310(b)(2) is hereby reinstated.
The appellees’ motion for certification filed October 23, 2013, is denied
CCA Florida applauds the FWC for standing up to Judge Fulford’s outrageous ruling and for their efforts to protect Florida’s fisheries from gill nets. Attorney General Pam Bondi and attorney Jonathan Glogau deserve our highest commendation for their strong legal work in quickly stopping the slaughter.
“This ruling is a step in the right direction but the fight is far from over. There is a much larger battle ahead. We need to stay focused on this issue and make sure it is put to bed once and for all” said CCA Florida Chairman, Jim Williams. CCA has filed in Florida’s 1st DCA on the side of the FWC to ask the appellate court to reverse Judge Jackie Lee Fulford’s order allowing gill netting in state waters. CCA Florida’s Chairman reiterated that, “we will spend every penny necessary to protect the constitutional ban on gill netting”.
Now that gill nets are out of Florida’s waters, our attorneys can focus on reversing Judge Fulford’s original order. There will be months of legal maneuvering but, CCA will not rest so long as illegal netting is taking place in Florida’s waters.
Florida’s recreational anglers are dedicated to protecting Florida’s marine resources and CCA Florida urges everyone to take a moment to contact your state representatives and senators to voice your concerns to ensure that gill nets never make it back in Florida waters.
Contribute to the CCA Florida Gill Net Legal Defense at www.ccaflorida.org
Sign our petition at www.yousign.org/en/netbanpetition
Join CCA Florida today at www.joinccaflorida.org
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
Leon County Circuit Judge Jackie Lee Fulford yesterday vacated an automatic stay of her controversial order of October 22nd enjoining statewide enforcement of the state’s 18-year-old net ban, virtually assuring an almost open season on Florida mullet stocks during the upcoming spawning season and essentially thumbing her nose at the will of voters of the State of Florida who passed the Constitutional Amendment Limiting Marine Net Fishing.
The stay of her order became automatic when the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), through the state Attorney General’s office, filed an appeal of her net ban order. Lawyers for the Wakull Commercial Fishermen’s Association, which originally brought the action that led to the net ban ruling, moved to vacate the stay, however, and Fulford granted that motion. “I do find that there is no irreparable harm if the stay is lifted, and that there is, in fact, irreparable harm if I do not lift the stay. The status quo, I believe in my opinion, has resulted in unnecessary killing and waste, and by adoption of the FWC rules after the net ban amendment, it’s resulted in unfair application of the net ban to some and not others,” Judge Fulford said at yesterday’s hearing.