CCA Florida would like for our members to become involved and voice their opinions in a very important issue that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) and Chairman Wright are spearheading. FWC will hold webinars concerning Sport Fish and Game Fish designations on December 10th and 12th from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM. The FWC is asking for your help and would like for you to join in and give your comments. Some of the aspects of the Game Fish and Sport Fish designations have received mixed reviews among Florida anglers and we need your input. CCA will continue to work closely with FWC concerning this issue. Your comments are very important and CCA Florida encourages you to participate and voice your opinion.
Please click HERE to see the full press release regarding the webinars and how to attend them. If you have any questions please contact Trip Aukeman at 850-559-0060.
Please click HERE to review the FWC's Game Fish and Sport Fish PowerPoint presentation as well as the following press release that the FWC sent out following their December 5th meeting in which the Game Fish and Sport Fish Designations were discussed.
For immediate release: December 5, 2012
Contact: Amanda Nalley, 850-410-4943
FWC Commission considering creating saltwater game fish and sport fish designations
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) discussed the possibility of creating saltwater game fish and sport fish designations at its Dec. 5 Commission meeting in Apalachicola. After public comment from 18 people and the Commissioners’ discussion, the FWC decided to approve the proposed draft rule about the designation. The Commission will possibly make a final decision on this measure at its February meeting in Orlando.
While Florida has many recreationally important species, it does not have an official saltwater game fish or sport fish designation.
Reasons for considering these changes include helping highlight and protect some of Florida’s premier recreational fish and encouraging anglers to adopt voluntary conservation practices such as catch-and-release. If adopted, these changes could lead to healthier fish populations and help Florida market its unique fishing opportunities to residents and visitors.
“I think it’s an opportunity for this Commission to create a lasting legacy,” said Chairman Kenneth Wright. “I think it will send a signal to fishermen around the world that we are a world-class fishing destination.”
At the meeting, staff presented the Commission with potential game fish and sport fish definitions and described how fish within these designations could be managed.
Suggested parameters for game fish would include no commercial harvest, possession or sale.
The sport fish designation would offer a higher level of protection than game fish by making selected species catch-and-release only, including no recreational harvest as well as no commercial harvest, possession or sale.
Before moving forward with the proposal, the Commission decided to remove a parameter that would have limited gear to hook-and-line only for both designations. They also removed another parameter that was proposed for the game fish designation only that would have required captain and crew of for-hire vessels such as charter boats to have a bag limit of zero and not be allowed to take fish home for themselves.
Which fish species will be included under the game fish or sport fish designations will not be decided at the February Commission meeting. If game fish and sport fish designations are approved, staff will return to future meetings with suggestions for potential fish species candidates.
Recreational fishing in Florida has a high cultural and economic value, and protecting Florida’s premier recreational fish is a priority of the Commission.
. Learn more by visiting MyFWC.com/Fishing – click on “Saltwater Fishing,” “Rulemaking” and “Workshops.”
November 28, 2012Dr. Jane LubchencoUnder Secretary of Commerce for Oceans andAtmosphere and NOAA AdministratorHerbert Clark Hoover Building14th Street & Constitution Avenue, N.W.Room 5128Washington, DC 20230
Dear Dr. Lubchenco:
We in the sportfishing community were appreciative of the effort you and Eric Schwaab made to improve communication and relationships through the Saltwater Recreational Summit held in Virginia at the beginning of your term as Administrator of NOAA. There were many important commitments made at that meeting, particularly ones made by you. While you have followed through on some of those commitments, there is one very notable exception that is quite concerning to us.
At that meeting in 2010, you noted that the allocation process between sport and commercial fisheries was "rusted shut" and many mixed sector fisheries are operating on outdated allocations based on history rather than optimizing socioeconomic values for the future. You stated that if we are really serious about maximizing jobs and economic value for the future, we have to address this issue regularly and with a standardized, analytical approach.
While we were pleased to have Eric follow up and commission former State Director George Lapointe to survey many of us as to what approaches would be needed, we were concerned that many on the Fishery Management Councils and some NOAA Fisheries Service staff opposed this effort and did not want the issue of allocation systematically reviewed. This pushback was expected, and is symptomatic of the agency culture that has always favored a stable commercial fishery and regarded the sportfish industry as an after-thought. It is this culture that locked in allocations in the first place.
We understand that the report prepared by Mr. Lapointe was submitted to NOAA Fisheries almost a year ago and, as far as we can tell, no meaningful action has been taken on it since submission. We are writing you to express our continuing apprehension that your first term as NOAA Administrator may expire without action on reallocation. There is still time to follow through and complete the development of a systematic framework to regularly review allocation, but it clearly requires your continuing commitment and leadership to unlock the inner workings of NOAA Fisheries that are rusted shut on this issue.
Please review this important situation and ensure that your commitment to us at the Summit has not been lost in process. Good progress on this issue was made initially, but we must guard against defenders of the status quo smothering this initiative with inertia and inaction.
You have asked us to hold you and Eric accountable to these commitments and while we are respectfully doing that, we are also offering our assistance to keep this process moving forward.
Thank you for your attention to this important issue.
Mike Nussman, President
American Sportfishing Association
Pat Murray, President
Coastal Conservation Association
Jeff Angers, President
Center for Coastal Conservation
Jeff Crane, President
Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation
Rob Kramer, President
International Game Fish Association
Thom Dammrich, President
National Marine Manufacturers Association
Jim Martin, President
Berkley Conservation Institute
CCA Applauds FWC for Uncovering Commercial Illegal Wildlife Ring
For immediate release: November 14, 2012
Contact: Katie Purcell
FWC Community Relations Coordinator
Division of Law Enforcement
FWC Investigation Uncovers Illegal Commercial Wildlife Ring
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service law enforcement officers completed a comprehensive investigation Wednesday that included more than 200 criminal violations by 21 individuals in Orange, Lake, Osceola, Polk and St. Lucie counties. The 22-month operation targeted individuals who illegally bought fish and wildlife products in Florida and shipped them out of state to be sold to the public.
“The suspects were ultimately working together in a criminal conspiracy,” said Maj. Curtis Brown, head of the FWC’s Investigations section.
Officers determined the suspects were buying products from poachers and unlicensed individuals and shipping them to markets out of state. Today, they shut them down. Those out-of-state markets are still being investigated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
“This was a large-scale illegal poaching operation with serious implications for the environment, economy and public health,” Brown said.
The suspects made one or two trips a month, transporting 2,000 to 3,000 pounds of product each trip to its markets.
“They placed orders that included one for 900 pounds of poached white-tailed deer and another for 500 pounds of illegal snook,” Brown said.
To date, the operation has identified 21 suspects. The criminal charges include 147 misdemeanor violations and 75 felony violations. Ten suspects were arrested and taken to local county jails today; the rest were issued notices to appear.
Undercover officers successfully infiltrated the illegal operations and were able to gather sufficient evidence of the crimes. The species involved include grouper, snapper, trout, redfish, snook, bass, bream, catfish, deer, turkey, ducks and alligator.
“Some of those are restricted species,” Brown said. “Over-harvesting, taking them out of season or taking them by illegal methods harms the resource, undermining conservation efforts.”
The FWC says shutting down illegal operations like this is also important for public health. When game is harvested and sold illegally, it does not go through the same processes or undergo the same food health inspections necessary to protect the public.
“The public has a right to purchase safe, legally harvested products without concern for the safety of their food,” Brown said.
Shutting down this operation also benefits the local economy. Illegal activities can seriously impact legal businesses.
“For example, there are deer farmers and commercial fishermen who harvest and sell their products legally,” Brown said. “Individuals who operate illegally often sell their products cheaper, essentially stealing profits from the law-abiding businesses.”
In addition to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the FWC worked with partner organizations including the National Wild Turkey Federation, Humane Society of the United States and Ducks Unlimited.
“This was a great team effort to support our legal commercial markets, protect Florida’s valuable natural resources and allow the public to safely enjoy them,” Brown said.
The public can help by reporting to the FWC suspected violations of illegally harvesting or selling fish and wildlife. To make a report, call the Wildlife Alert hotline (888) 404-FWCC or