Originally Posted by Fly
I am curious. When was the slot length limit set on those salt water fish in Florida?
Fly, they are continuing to be set on all kinds of state species.
The blackened redfish craze of the 80’s started by that New Orleans chef is what caused the decimation of redfish in Florida due to uncontrolled commercial fishing by everyone. This was before (or maybe right around when) salt water fishing licenses became required. The redfish slot was passed right around 1990 and commercial fishing and sales of reds was also outlawed by constitutional ammendment (description later). This (outlawing commercial fishing for them) is/was the primary reason for the turnaround, but did absolutely nothing from a recreational standpoint, since many people refused to even buy a saltwater fishing license for years after that law went into effect. And many occassional fishermen didn’t even know one was required or where to get one.
Fishing License vendors were paid one dollar to spend ten minutes or more filling out forms between customers actually buying things, not counting the time required to file them with the state etc. So not many places were eager to sell them and clerks who did were (and still are) often surly about it.
Three or four years after the license act became law, I reported a group of boats spearfishing in Pennekamp State Park (strictly illegal) just slaughtering grouper in their holes in the coral in water less than 15’ deep. The Park Rangers informed me they had no jurisdiction to apprehend them!
So I asked for the number of who did. It took them over 15 minutes to find a number that had been disconnected! When I finally got to the appropriate agency over an hour later, I was told that it had only 2 boats for the entire state of Florida and one was in Key West, the other in Jax or Tallahassee –I forget. So the entire income from millions of licenses sold/year to residents and visitors went where? The general fund aparantly. So where was the incentive for me to fork over anything for a license from that point on?
So it took probably 8 years or so for the slot limit or any other limit to start being enforced. Once that happened, since commercial gill netting had been outlawed, the stocks began to quickly rebound.
The slot limit on snook however was almost an immediate success as it didn’t start until about 2000 when the waters were starting to crawl with all manner of enforcers and it too had been taken off the commercial fishing list many, many years prior. The snook decline was undeniably caused by rec anglers (and the the usual pollution of course in recent years, but primarily rec anglers).
The huge sustained freeze we had a couple years ago killed many millions of snook (among many other fish including bones), but seemed to help the redfish population. Snook are on the re-bound already though, after two or three years of total protection.
So now, Florida has doubled the allowable redfish kill limit (from one to two) in the northern half of the state, which has most recreational fishing organizations and guides in a tizzy. They do not want the limits raised and in fact want the slot narrowed, as well as keeping the current one fish/day limit in effect.
Now these are primarily inshore species and fall under Florida law. Florida has a provision in its constitution whereby the constitution can be ammended by a popular vote after the requisite petition signatures have been obtained. This is what happened with redfish and snook. The citizens voted to classify them as gamefish, and thus remove them from the hands of commercial fishing.
Not so with most species here.
The next South Atlantic Fishery Management Council public hearings scheduled from Key Largo to New Bern, NC will be held between Aug 6 and Aug 16, though the agenda concerns Golden Tilefish/Snapper/Grouper Recreational/Commercial “catch allotments” for anyone interested.
The more recreational fishermen that show up at these meetings, the better, if we want to be allowed to continue fishing for anything edible offshore.
The fish I eat more than any other is dolphin. Here in the Keys they spawn nearly all year in schools, not individually. They have a life span of only 4 or 5 years, and start spawning at about 6 months old. However, the big cows will produce over a million eggs per spawn session whereas the small ones produce 80 to 100,000. I’ve also heard that the eggs of the large cows have a larger drop of fat than those of the small cows and a higher survival rate– but that is just heresay.
I don’t personally keep big bulls or big cows. Small ones taste better for one thing and will fit whole into my fish box on the boat. So they are fully iced. Personally, I’d like to see a no-keep above x inches slapped on them – or at least a high-slot no-kill range.
However, the commercial fisheries would have be regulated equally stringently. And that is the big problem; it will never happen because individuals have no say in national matters. The less we catch, as determined by the Feds, the less our "catch allotment" becomes and the greater the commercial "catch allotment" becomes. It is basically a race to see which group can kill the most fish the fastest so he can continue to fish at all.
There is a dolphin kill tournament going on every week somewhere in the Keys often with large prizes – usually for the biggest fish. So despite the fact that these are fish I think should be protected to a degree, these open kill tournaments actually are benefiting me as a recreational angler in helping amass political clout. So, I have basically no choice but to strongly support something that I don’t think is beneficial to the sport, the fishery or the planet.
For example, the SAFMC meeting mentioned above includes golden tile fish. Here is the catch allotment breakdown directly from that regulatory agency’s website.
Originally Posted by SAFMC
Effective January 31, 2011, the recreational Annual Catch Limit (quota) for golden tilefish is 1,578 fish based on an allocation of 97% commercial and 3% recreational as approved in Amendment 17B. (See Fishery Bulletin Reminder below)
Notice that it's written as if Amendment 17B were personally handed down from God, and not to be questioned. So to implement the “catch allotment scheme” , that organization , decided to give commercial fishermen individual “trip allotments” of 4,000 lbs of golden tile fish per “trip” and adjust that figure as needed as the season progressed.
But rather than do the same for recreational fishermen, they set a limit of one tile fish per day on us. I have a buddy who fishes (used to fish) for them. He fished water from 9oo to 1200 feet deep down here at 32 miles offshore, requiring deep dropping gear, expensive elec reels,etc. So this requires a round trip of 64 miles (in a boat big enough to go out 32 miles and well into the Gulf Stream) to catch ONE fish.
So the entire “catch allotment” scam for salt water fishing is nothing but BS as far as I’m concerned – like creating a 3% national harvest allotment on homegrown tomatos for those with a tomato grow license - but you can only harvest one tomato per day and it has to be ½ lb or bigger in order to not exceed the “estimated” (by the Fed’s magic crystal ball) "harvest allotment".
Basically what’s happened in the salt is that the Feds have perverted the intent of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and are using it as a mandate to arbitrarily restrict, if not outright outlaw, an individual citizen’s use of the oceans in favor of commercial use of them.
Fortunately, Florida's state constitution gives some power to the citizens, and when things get bad enough, we can do something about it for those fish that live inshore.