Empty Nets Syndrome

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By: Garin Flowers

Florida's panhandle harvests most of the state's seafood, and fishermen as of late have been belly up.

Several are out-of-work or struggling to make a living.

For many who grow up in Florida's panhandle, becoming a fisherman is a dream, but for the past few years, the fishing industry has only been a nightmare.

A large portion of Florida’s seafood comes out of Wakulla and Franklin counties.

"Price of fuel’s gone up; price of nets gone up; price of everything’s gone up,” Angelo Petrandis, Angelo & Son's Seafood Restaurant, said. “Fuels gone up; oil; price of living's gone up; price of shrimp has gone down."

Angelo Petrandis owns a restaurant in Panacea. He says fishermen in the area are disappearing, and he attributes it to the BP oil spill, gas prices, and government regulations on fishing.

"They're not working anymore, people aren't working,” said Petrandis.

The state of Florida's job rate continues to get better, but it's no indication of a recovery for fishing in the panhandle. Some think the loosening of government regulations would help.

Despite the empty buildings, unemployment of fisherman and low spirits, Donnie Crum strives to fix the problem.

He's successfully kept his fishing business open in Panacea for decades. He believes regulating fish can be a team effort.

"Just be a little kinder, and a little gentler,” Donnie Crum, Crum's Mini Mall, said. “When we change these regulations we need to consider the economy and the social well-being of the people."

Both the state and federal government set the rules for all fishermen.

Crum believes the state should have more power on local fishing since they know the area and people better.

"People have been smiling; people are happy and the FWC did that," Crum said. “We can do some testing and come up with some scientific guesses but the only real biologist in the ocean is God."

A bill in congress being considered would give more power to the state of Florida in regulating the fishing industry.


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