Written by Leslie Taylor
PORT CANAVERAL — The local commercial fishing industry will receive added protection as part of a plan approved Tuesday by port commissioners.
The commission gave its unanimous support to proposed changes in the port charter recognizing the importance of the commercial fishing industry and assuring that such operations there would not be squeezed out by other development. The Canaveral Port Authority’s action accepts the recommendations of a special 10-member Charter Review Committee.
Port commissioners in July plan to take their final vote on these and other proposed changes to the port charter, which then also must be approved by the Florida Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott in 2014.
“We didn’t want to see commercial fishing go away in favor of a T-shirt shop,” said Scott Baughan, who chaired the Charter Review Committee. “They’re very vulnerable as an industry. We were trying to protect this fragile industry that was one letter (away) from going out of business” through a notice threatening that a commercial fishing business’s lease at the port might not be renewed.
Under the proposed charter change, a “super-majority” vote of four of the five port commissioners would be required to not renew a commercial fishing operation lease or to relocate the leasee, while the total bulkhead space for commercial fishing operations could not be reduced below the current level. There also would be public hearings at least once every two years at the port to discuss the commercial fishing industry.
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