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October 7, 2005

Commercial Fisherman's reality check...

Guess what guys, here's the truth, from a Florida fisherman....'re fighting over a resource you don't own. If a species takes years to grow to "marketable" size, and you take them out in too drastic a number, they will go away.

Want another reality check? Okay. Everywhere the commercial fishing of a species has been controlled...the fish came back. Everywhere! Look at the results of the Florida net ban, the mackerel management plan, and up north at the Striped Bass recovery just to see a few.

The odd thing is, you all get so greedy and competitive against one another, you forget there are other people out there. Some people, myself included, no longer bottom fish with any regularity. Part of the reason is I'm currently deployed to the middle east, but there are a couple others:

-You don't see the numbers of fish you used to see. I didn't catch a Red Grouper anywhere near keeper size in 2004. I only kept one Gag Grouper all year.

-Guides taking people fishing and others who don't know bow from stern act like assholes. You have to all share a patch of reef or spoil area, but they get so damn competitive for space it takes the fun out of it. It went from days where everyone applauded if someone caught something good, to "fuck you this is my spot!" I didn't become a fisherman to deal with stress and idiots.

-Groupers have predators in the form of Jewfish (the politically incorrect but real name of the Goliath Grouper), which eat everything in sight, and have become plentiful, yet are still protected. One pain-in-the-ass Jewfish bit almost every time I was on a certain spot.

-bottom fishing is pretty boring and only needs a minimum of skill. I prefer sight casting.

-I'm a catch-and-release fisherman who fishes for the fun of it. If I fished merely for meat, it would turn fishing into the nautical version of the aviator's "$100 hamburger." With how much boats cost now, unless you're entering and winning tournaments, guiding clients, or using commercial gear, you will never recover anywhere near the cost of the boat by the amount of fish you catch or revenue produced, so stop trying.

As for you commercial fisherman, take it easy on the resource, offer your "bycatch" to a recreational fisherman, and don't ever let me catch you "finning" sharks or you will receive a beating that will teach you not to do it again. If you need some discipline, I'll give it to you.


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