Fishermen Challenge State in Court

By: Jennifer Ryan
By: Jennifer Ryan

It's a familiar sight at the Leon County courthouse, dozens of angry fishermen wanting their old nets back, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission quoting the Constitution. But in this 10-year battle, a new twist is unveiled.

Armed with props and plenty of support, Florida's mullet fishermen crowd into a Leon County circuit courtroom. It's a decade-old battle with a new spin. Instead of focusing on mesh size, these fishermen take an environmental approach.

David Grix, Fishing for Freedom Vice President, says, "They've done the test that proves 95 percent of what we catch was unnecessarily killed."

But the Florida's Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says those tests were conducted to determine whether the nets fishermen want are unconstitutional.

Willie Puz, FWC spokesman, says, "For the past 10 years we try to uphold the Constitution, what is a gill net, what is an entangling net."

To this date, FWC stands by its data proving the three-inch mesh nets are gill nets and therefore unconstitutional, but these fishermen disagree saying the agency should consider how many baby fish are being caught and killed in the process.

The hearing just wrapped up and circuit court Judge Janet Ferris did not make a ruling. Instead she asked both sides to submit proposed orders by January 6.


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