The angry commercial fishermen

Commercial fishermen in Florida, and more recently in Louisiana, have conducted skirmishes that could lead to open war on sport fishermen. They feel that some regulations designed to protect the species prevent them from earning a living.

How disruptive have their actions been? Rip Cunningham’s shocking editorial (Salt Water Sportsman, February 1996) details how commercial fishermen ambushed, stormed and trashed a fisherman’s vehicle, trailer and boat and stole the equipment. The angler was taking his son fishing for some quality bonding. “Other commercial netters have threatened a campaign of burning sport fishermen’s camps and boats,” Cunningham writes.

Two great examples of how anglers working together can produce noble achievements

1. The Ban the Nets project, which virtually eliminated commercial fishing in Florida, is a great example of how angling groups and individuals can work together. The Save Our Sealife committee conducted a very effective petition drive on November. 10, 1992 by collecting over 200,000 signatures outside the poling sites in Florida. This might be the most successful one-day petition effort ever in America. Florida Sportsman and its publisher Karl Wickstrom were important players in this fight.

Ban the Nets had tremendous assistance from many outdoor writers, numerous associations and federations including Florida Conservation Association, the Florida Wildlife Federation, the Tropical Audubon Society of Miami, the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund and others. The result: An overwhelming victory on November 8, 1994, when 72 percent of the people voted to ban the nets. The formula for success includes sportsmen, magazines, outdoor writers, grass roots campaigning and associations working together.