Lifting Fishing Restrictions Could Boost Wakulla County's Economy

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By: Elizabeth Nickerson
April 1, 2013

Wakulla County, Fla. -- Businesses are holding on for dear life.

"Without a healthy marine environment," said Ronald Crum, Crum's Mini-Mall Owner. "We go out of business."

Crum has owned Crum's Mini Mall for 45 years and says a new House Bill could help save Wakulla's economy by putting more land under state jurisdiction.

"The FWC has its fingers on the pulse of the people, that's the economy," said Crum. "The social well-being of the people."

"Economically this will bring a lot more people to us that can fish and can take advantage of our natural resources and just be a positive to our local economy," said Ralph Thomas, a Wakulla County Commissioner.

Florida currently has control of nine miles from the shoreline, but if the Gulf Fisheries Fairness Act passes, 60 miles and areas within the exclusive economic zone in the Gulf of Mexico will be regulated by Florida Lawmakers.

"The local biologists have a better idea of what is going on there and so when there setting their limits," said Thomas. "When their setting their seasons then they will be able to take that into account and hopefully opening up the area so that it is available for fishing for longer period of time in local waters."

U.S. Congressmen Steve Southerland, who introduced the bill, said, "With a two-fish-per-day limit and a red snapper season set at 27 days and shrinking, Florida's fishermen face unacceptably severe challenges that are forcing them off the water."

Commissioner Ralph Thomas will be in the Wakulla Council Meeting early Monday evening to bring awareness to the House Bill.

If the house bill passes, the entire Gulf will be under the same rules, meaning each state along the Gulf will control the waters that border their shores.

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