Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Grouper anglers try to rally forces to challenge regs

Anglers from across the west coast of Florida will gather Wednesday in St. Petersburg in hopes of convincing federal officials that a series of proposed grouper regulations are unfair to recreational fisherman.

"I just don't understand," said Dave Bayes, manager of a Seminole tackle shop that caters to offshore anglers. "A recreational fisherman can go out and catch one 5- to 10-pound red grouper but a commercial longline boat can go and catch 6,000 pounds in one trip? Where is the fairness in that?"

Bayes, like many recreational anglers, thinks federal officials favor the commercial sector.

"It is like the insurance industry," he said. "The big companies have lobbyists to make sure they get what they want."

Traditionally, recreational fishermen have been a disorganized lot. The Florida chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association changed the political landscape in the early 1990s when it successfully fought to have gill nets banned from state waters.

Fast forward 15 years, and now the CCA is urging members to turn out to fight the federal proposal to shut down recreational grouper fishing in the gulf for three months next year.

"If grouper are in such bad shape, then why in the world do we have an industrial-scale longline fleet out there fishing while the recreational fishermen have to stay home," said Ted Forsgren, director of the CCA's Florida chapter. "This is a publicly owned resource and the current allocation is far from fair and equitable."

Gag grouper reproduce during the winter months. The CCA wants federal officials to shut down the commercial fishery as well from Jan. 15 to April 15 and protect the spawning stocks. Currently, commercial fishermen only have a one-month closure.

Forsgren believes federal officials should move the longline boats to deeper water.

"Off Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, longline boats are prohibited inside of 50 fathoms," Forsgren said. "Here off Florida, they only have to be outside the 20-fathom line."

Forsgren also questions the manner in which federal officials divide the red grouper stocks between the commercial and recreational sectors. Commercial fishermen take roughly 81 percent; recreational anglers, 19 percent. (The ratio is roughly 40/60 for gag grouper).

"If the CCA pushes to have the allocation changed or push the longlines out to 50 fathoms, I think a lot of fishermen will stop longlining, switch to bandit rigs and target gag grouper," said Dean Pruitt, a commercial fisherman from Madeira Beach. "I don't think that fishery can handle any more pressure."


To be heard

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council will hold a public hearing on the proposed grouper regulations at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Radisson Hotel, 12600 Roosevelt Blvd., St. Petersburg. For information:

Grouper anglers try to rally forces to challenge regs 03/15/08 [Last modified: Saturday, March 15, 2008 9:17pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Cup-winning Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk makes Hockey Hall of Fame

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman said Dave Andreychuk's name has surfaced often the past eight years with the selection committee.

    30 Oct 2001:  Left wing Dave Andreychuk #25 of the Tampa Bay Lightning skates towards the blue line during the NHL game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada.  The Maple Leafs defeated the Lightning 3-2.  Mandatory Credit:  Dave Sanford /Allsport
  2. Rays acquire slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria from Marlins

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Chaim Bloom said the Rays weren't necessarily in the market for a shortstop. The team has a number of those. But when the Marlins recently began shopping Adeiny Hechavarria, well, that was too much to pass up.

    Adeiny Hechavarria has emerged as one of baseball’s top defensive shortstops in the past three seasons with the Marlins.
  3. Rays at Pirates, 7:05 p.m. Tuesday, Pittsburgh

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Pirates

    7:05, PNC Park

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Probable pitchers

    Rays: Alex Cobb (6-5, 4.05)

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Alex Cobb #53 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait during the Tampa Bay Rays photo day on February 18, 2017 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Floida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
  4. Lightning journal: Forward Yanni Gourde agrees to two-year deal

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Just three years ago, Yanni Gourde was fighting to stay in pro hockey.

    Tampa Bay Lightning center Yanni Gourde celebrates after scoring against the Florida Panthers during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 11, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA108
  5. What they're saying about Dave Andreychuk making Hall of Fame

    Lightning Strikes

    "Dave helped me so much when I was just starting my career, a young kid that was looking to find his way as a hockey player, a person and a member of the Tampa Bay community. In addition to watching him compile such awe-inspiring statistics, I remember him as a big brother to me and many others, making sure all the …