The recent passage of regulations by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) concerning use of the “Boca Jig” has left CCA Florida in the midst of a heated debate (again). We have friends and members on both sides of the issue. Our position, developed by our government relations committee (GRC), is set forth on CCA’s website and reprinted below for ease of reference. In short there were three proposed regulations. We supported two:
The third issue focused on the banning of the “Boca Jig” from use in Boca Grand Pass. Some believe the “Boca Jig” to be a snagging device; while others claim it is not a snagging device. Yet everyone who weighed in on the issue from both sides of the debate to CCA’s GRC stated that they are against snagging Tarpon.
While in the end our GRC vote was that we would “not support” the proposed gear restriction on the “Boca Jig” our position on the practice of snagging tarpon is crystal clear. As an organization, we are against the practice. The decision not to support the proposed ban on the “Boca Jig” should not be construed as a tacit agreement that snagging tarpon is acceptable – it is illegal and unethical to snag these great fish and CCA Florida abhors the practice. Anyone who suggests otherwise does not understand our position.
The FWC voted to ban the use of the “Boca Jig” and the regulation is now established. As always, CCA Florida works within our system of laws and government. This is true even when we are working to make changes. Our principle to work within the system does not change just because our view does not prevail. Once established as law, we encourage all of our members to abide by FWC’s regulations both in deed and in spirit. As in the past, CCA Florida will support efforts to bring law breakers to justice.
There are many problems facing our fisheries and CCA Florida has led the fight on everything from gill nets to long lines, size and bag limits, habitat destruction and reef building. Now that the FWC has spoken, let’s move forward together to protect the fisheries we all love.
CCA FLORIDA POSITION
NEW FWCC TARPON REGULATIONS
Our Association sometimes finds itself in the middle of an issue on which we have many members on both sides. That is case with one of the new regulations the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission proposed at its June, 2013 meeting relating to tarpon fishing, which applies particularly during the spawn in Boca Grande Pass. We want our members to be informed and understand how and why CCA Florida formulates its positions on these issues.
Differing methods of fishing for tarpon in Boca Grande Pass have engendered impassioned feelings and emotions for decades now. Over 10 years ago, the FWCC commissioned a study to see if there was a difference in release mortality between tarpon caught in the old, traditional method – using live bait – and those caught using jigs. That study, which was peer reviewed, concluded that there is no significant difference in release mortality between the 2 methods. On the basis of that study – which remains the only such study of which we are aware – CCA Florida adopted the position that no additional regulations governing methods of fishing for tarpon were warranted.
That study has now been discredited to some degree – completely so in the view of some. If one assumes that the study was flawed, that does not mean that the opposite conclusion is now true – it means that we are back to having no study that establishes anything. Nonetheless, the FWCC has decided to propose some new rules for tarpon fishing. CCA Florida supported the new rule making tarpon a catch and release fishery, and we are in complete support of the proposed rule prohibiting the snagging of tarpon (although our position is that only the intentional snagging of tarpon should be prohibited as every angler unintentionally foul hooks/snags a fish at some point).
The last proposed rule would limit the use of bottom weighted jigs while fishing for tarpon, which is a popular method used during the spawn in Boca Grande Pass. CCA Florida’s Government Relations Committee – which is made up of 45 members from across our entire State – voted unanimously not to support this new rule – the entire rationale in doing so is that there simply is no scientific evidence demonstrating a need for the new rule. Insisting that the management of our fisheries be pursued using credible science has served us well, and the charged emotions involved in the Boca Grande tarpon fishery are no basis for us to change that approach.