Twenty years ago Wednesday, Florida banned gill-net fishing, one of the most controversial conservation measures in the state's history.

The ban devastated livelihoods and what remained of a once-vibrant commercial fishing culture in small coastal towns throughout Florida.

But proponents of the ban say fish species — especially mullet — have vastly improved since voters decided to prohibit large nets that entangle fish by the gills. Critics of the ban say it was unnecessary, destroyed family businesses and simply shifted the catch from commercial fishers to the much more politically powerful sport fishing sector. They point to unchecked development and poor stormwater management as the main causes of most fish declines, not their nets. Seagrass loss in the Indian River Lagoon, for instance, put much more of a hurt on fish stocks than gill nets, they say.

Read the full story at Florida Today >>

Read more about net bans >>

Have you listened to this article via the audio player above?

If so, send us your feedback around what we can do to improve this feature or further develop it. If not, check it out and let us know what you think via email or on social media.

A collection of stories from guest authors.

Join the Conversation