Crabbers Straining Resources, Wildlife Officials Say

Fishing is a way of life along Florida’s coast. From reeling in grouper to setting crab traps, these waters are a moneymaking machine. But wildlife officials say too many fishermen can strain resources, hurting the industry and the environment.

"One thing we recognize is fishing has been overcapitalized. Too many traps, too many fishermen."

Which is why the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission wants a new law on the books, one that pleases all parties involved.

"Most fishermen would qualify, and all would be capped at some amount of traps, so the playing field is equal for everybody."

And time is of the essence. With a moratorium on crabbers coming to a close, officials must make a decision soon. A decision will come from wildlife commissioners next week. Then it's time for the public's input. The final goal is to have a new law in effect by July of 2006.