Capt. Phil O'Bannon made some stops in Fort Myers at Lee County Commission chambers earlier this week, with hopes of garnering support for the Boca Grande Pass tarpon fishing gear rule.
A ruling is scheduled to be made at the next Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission meeting, scheduled for Thursday and Friday, Sept. 5 and 6, in Pensacola.
He succeeded in his mission, and Lee County Commissioners sent out a letter of endorsement for the gear restriction on Tuesday, Aug. 20.
"Please accept this letter from the Lee County Board of Commissioners in strong support of the Boca Grande Pass Tarpon Fishing Gear Rule which is scheduled to go to adoption by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission ... " it read.
O'Bannon said he felt it was important to meet with commissioners because of how it pertains to the Pass.
"They are the elected stewards of Lee County," he said. "I am very appreciated of their immediate show of concern and support. I felt it was imperative for the FWC Commissioners to be aware of how important this local rule is to our fishery and local economy."
O'Bannon started fishing Boca Grande waters in the early '60s with his father, Capt. Fingers O'Bannon. He has been guiding for more than 40 years, and is also the executive director of the Boca Grande branch office of Mote Marine Laboratory.
Regulation 68B-32.002 states that the proposed final rule would enhance the definition in the tarpon chapter of "snagging" or "snatch hooking." The second part of the proposal, 68B-4.018, Boca Grande Pass Gear Restrictions states, "The proposed final rule would prohibit the use and possession of gear rigged with a weight attached to the bottom of the hook in Boca Grande Pass."
A vote to pursue refining these definitions was passed with a 4-3 vote by commissioners at the last meeting.
"I feel this rule is a huge step towards protecting and preserving our declining tarpon fishery," O'Bannon said. "This rule will help prevent the unethical fishing practices that have disrupted the pre-spawning feeding of one of the world's largest aggregation of tarpon. "
For more information on the upcoming FWC meeting, go to myfwc.com and click on "Commission meetings."
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