PROVIDED BY SAVE THE TARPON - Save The Tarpon is calling on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to “buy a map” and hold at least one of its proposed tarpon rule change “workshops” in Boca Grande, the “Tarpon Fishing Capital of the World.”
Save The Tarpon Inc. is a Florida non-profit corporation with more than 17,000 members and supporters worldwide, including more than 15,000 subscribers to its Facebook site. Save The Tarpon is dedicated to protecting, preserving and growing the iconic Boca Grande tarpon fishery located in Lee County at the entrance to Charlotte Harbor.
Despite widespread public support for rules that would eliminate “possession” and make tarpon a pure catch and release species, the FWC’s proposed regulations contain a loophole that would, according to STT Chairman Tom McLaughlin, “allow trophy hunters to continue killing the largest breeding females for a meaningless ego stroke entry in the record books. This isn’t how you grow a fishery.”
“The FWC is taking a step backwards with these proposed rule changes,” said McLaughlin. “While seeking to appease the record chasers, the commission is ignoring the voices of the people of Florida and beyond who are demanding an end to the days of gaff and drag by making Boca Grande Pass a catch and release fishery. The rule, as written, is obviously too vague to be enforced. If you want to kill a tarpon, regardless of size, all you have to do is claim you were going for a record. It’s no wonder the FWC is going out of its way to steer clear of Boca Grande.”
The FWC has slated three public workshops to take comment on the proposed rule changes. The April 1 workshop will be held at the Florida Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg. On April 2, a second workshop will be held in Dania Beach, the Broward County home of the International Game Fishing Association Hall of Fame and Museum. The following day, another workshop – likely to focus on a minor change to bonefish rules – will take place in the Keys.
“The FWC is going to the Keys because the Keys are known worldwide for bonefish. Makes sense. The FWC is going to Dania Beach because Dania Beach is known for what? Jai Alai? Wouldn’t it make just a little more sense to maybe, just maybe, think about going where tarpon fishing is a tradition that’s been carried on for more than a century; a place where tarpon fishing pumps more than $300 million annually into the regional economy; where generations of tarpon anglers come to fish for the mighty Silver King and where the whole notion of sport fishing for tarpon on rod and reel was born?”
Save The Tarpon is calling on its supporters to contact the FWC and request a Boca Grande “workshop” be scheduled. McLaughlin predicted the commission will likely attempt to cite “logistics” as its reason for bypassing Florida’s largest and best known tarpon fishery.
“We can provide the logistics,” McLaughlin said. “And there’s no question we can provide the people. People who can draw upon generations of knowledge passed down from their fathers and their fathers’ fathers. We’ll even spring for a map.”
Save the Tarpon, Inc. is a Florida not-for-profit corporation created to advocate for ethical angling and promote the stewardship of the Boca Grande Pass Tarpon fishery.
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