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Fishermen Fed Up With Feds, Upset Over New Tracking Device

By: Valerie Lacy
By: Valerie Lacy

Don Porter's been a commercial fisherman for 31 years now. He's battled everything from red tide to hurricanes, but he says his biggest fight isn't for grouper. He says the federal government has a huge appetite for regulations.

Don Porter said, "Does it? Every time we turn around it's a new regulation."

Porter says the federal government is forcing him to buy a $4,000 tracking device for his boat. The device is meant to keep him away from restricted fishing zones.

Porter says after paying $7,000 for a license, it's an expense he cannot afford.

Don Porter said, "I also spent $80,000 on a boat to go with that $7,000 license so at the end of December I either gotta put one on or they're gonna take my license."

More than that, Porter says he can't even sell his boat until he proves he's put a tracking device on it, and that makes retailers worry that anglers are the next endangered species.

Ronald Crum says fishermen reel in more than grouper. They bring in cash and jobs.

Ronald Crum, a Wakulla County resident, said, "And by the time they supply it on a plate, there's a server, well, it multiplies employment in this town tenfold."

Crum worries if the fishermen leave port the community may be left fishing for jobs. The tracking devices are meant to make sure commercial fishermen stay away from protected zones.


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