TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA (2-18-15) - The Supreme Court of Florida has denied a petition by the Wakulla Fishermen’s Association and upheld the state’s net ban amendment that was approved by 72 percent of voters in 1994. The ruling puts an end to the latest challenge brought by gillnetters who won a sympathetic circuit court ruling in 2013 that allowed them to briefly reintroduce destructive gill nets into Florida waters. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, with the support of CCA Florida, challenged that initial court ruling immediately and has worked tirelessly ever since to defend the net ban to the state’s highest court.
“The Constitutional Amendment that has protected Florida’s marine fisheries for more than 20 years is safe and intact once again,” said CCA Florida Chairman, Bill Camp. “We are grateful to the FWC for its efforts to reverse a wayward court ruling that threatened to turn the clock back to the dark days of gillnetting in our state waters. We have been down this road many times and there is no doubt the gillnetters will try again, but CCA stands ready to protect our fisheries and to make sure gill nets remain a part of Florida’s past, not our future.”
The 1994 net ban amendment has been credited with bringing about a dramatic improvement in bait and forage fish populations, along with a powerful recovery in red drum, speckled trout, snook and other species that provide the foundation for a billion-dollar recreational industry. Florida’s constitutional amendment has been the subject of constant legal challenges from disgruntled industrial harvesters seeking to undo all that has been achieved.
“The FWC, Attorney General Pam Bondi and especially Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Glogau all deserve the respect and gratitude of anglers not just in Florida but all over the country for their efforts on this case,” said CCA Florida Executive Director Brian Gorski. “They did a fantastic job to ensure that our state remains the Sportfishing Capital of the World. This is a great day for anglers, and another reminder that CCA Florida can never let its guard down as the advocate for our marine resources.”