Opinion: Net ban ensnares your right to Florida fish – Tallahassee.com
Bob Jones(Photo: Your Turn)
When the people of Florida voted to enshrine commercial fishing in the Constitution, they did so primarily by limiting the size of nets to 500 square feet.
A 500-square-foot net is not much bigger than some of the cast nets used to harvest mullet, Spanish mackerel, sheepshead and other inexpensive fish. The vote not only limited the commercial fishermen in their historical practice of harvesting fish, but it saved the commercial culture in the Constitution.
The most important words in Article 10 are the first 17: “The marine resources of the State of Florida belong to all of the people of the state.” The most important word is “all.”
All means all. I don’t know how it could mean some of the people, and especially don’t know how it could exclude all the people of a certain class.
My interpretation is the people of the state wanted to make sure they could have access to their fair share of the commonly owned fish, and were convinced it was the commercial fishermen who were harming the resource, so their fishing practices had to be modified. Modified, not banned.
When the people voted, they did not give authority to define some fish as “gamefish.” Gamefish status went out the window when this new method of protecting our fish went into force. The people did not go into the voting booth and ask that all their seafood be taken away and given to those who have boats and ability to catch their own fish.
It is past time to revisit the allocation of fish and how power politics has taken so many fish from the people under the guise of conservation.
The non-boaters are being harmed by current management, a practice that gives one sector all the