BY MARCY SHORTUSE - The game and sport fish designation draft rule proposed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will push forward through the legislative process. This was determined by the FWC Commission at the December 5 meeting in Apalachicola, and brings hope to many traditional tarpon fishermen.
But don’t expect the change in designation to happen any time soon.
After public comment from 18 people, about 10 of whom came from the Boca Grande area, and general discussion from the board, they determined that they will make their final decision on the matter in February at their Orlando meeting.
That decision will not include, though, which of the proposed fish go in which slot – game fish or sport fish. It also will not include whether or not the possession, or “kill” tag option will be taken off the table for either designation of fish.
A close affiliate of Bone & Tarpon Trust, Rick Hirsch, attended the meeting. He said that FWC Chairman Ken Wright was definitely reluctant to address any of those issues at the December 5 meeting.
“There are a dozen different ideas about the kill tag,” Hirsch said. “And the word ‘tarpon’ was barely mentioned at all.”
A few changes were made to the rough draft of the proposal, a few by Commission Chairman Kenneth Wright himself.
“I think it’s an opportunity for this Commission to create a lasting legacy,” said Wright. “I think it will send a signal to fishermen around the world that we are a world-class fishing destination.”
Changes to the proposal including removing a parameter that would have limited fishing gear to hook-and-line only for both designations, and another that would have required captain and crew of for-hire vessels to have a bag limit of zero.
Wright said that the fish species that will be included under the designations will not be decided at the February meeting either. He said that future meetings in 2013 will determine those details.
Attending from the Boca Grande area were Capt. Mark Futch, Capt. Phil O’Bannon, Capt. Cappy Joiner, Capt. Frank Davis, and more. Futch brought author Randy Wayne White with him. All of them told commissioners that this proposal would help to promote the fishery; that it was good for the state of Florida to join several other states who have done the same thing; and that it is the best investment to make for the generations in the decades to come.
Public comment can be sent to Marine@MyFWC.com.Webinars will be hosted on Dec. 10 and 12 to gather public comment. To participate in the webinar, visit fwc.adobeconnect.com/mfm/.
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