Lower Keys commercial fishermen asked Monroe County commissioners to throw them a lifeline by purchasing a Stock Island fish house and marina as working waterfront.

Commissioners responded Wednesday that they want to keep the former Gulf Seafood property dedicated to commercial fishing but remain cautious on how to do it.

"I'd hate to see the county become involved with management" of a marina and seafood house, Mayor Danny Kolhage said. "We're not equipped to do that."

"I want to preserve [the site] in perpetuity for commercial fishing, but not run a fish house," Kolhage said.

Commissioners agreed to take a step toward protecting the property -- now called Fisherman's Key Seafood but still best known locally by its longtime Gulf Seafood name -- by notifying the Florida Communities Trust of their tentative interest, with caveats.

"We've got a lot of stuff on our plate," Commissioner George Neugent said. "We damn sure don't want to get into the commercial fishing business."

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