Mixing outrage and pleas of financial hardship, commercial fishermen and charter captains packed a Marathon meeting Monday to forcefully argue against proposals for new no-take zones throughout the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
"You're strangling us, slowly but surely strangling us," said Bill Harbaugh, an Upper Keys charter captain.
"This is a declaration of war against fishermen ... a vast overreach," said Upper Keys commercial fisherman Carlos Jimenez.
Taking the brunt of the collective anger from more than 100 opponents were volunteer members of the Ecosystem Protection working group, preparing a set of revised zoning maps to submit to the full Sanctuary Advisory Council.
After hours of public comment, the working group abandoned plans to vote Monday on recommendations for a network of new ecological reserves and preservation areas ranging from the Dry Tortugas to Carysfort Reef off North Key Largo.
"Everybody just now is getting wind of this," said Ernie Piton, president of the Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen's Association and a member of the working group. "There's no way we're getting through this today. It's not possible."
"The whole thing's a meltdown," said Joe Weatherby, a diving representative on the working group.
Read the full story at Keys Net>>
National Fisherman Live: 12/16/14
In this episode, Bruce Buls, WorkBoat's technical editor, interviews Long Island lobsterman John Aldridge, who survived for 12 hours after falling overboard in the dead of night. Aldridge was the keynote speaker at the 2014 Pacific Marine Expo, which took place Nov. 19-21 in Seattle.
NOAA, in consultation with the Department of the Interior, has appointed 10 new members to the Marine Protected Areas Federal Advisory Committee. The 20-member committee is composed of individuals with diverse backgrounds and experience who advise the departments of commerce and the interior on ways to strengthen and connect the nation's MPA programs. The new members join the 10 continuing members appointed in 2012.