Future of Destin fisherman has a chance at being GOOD moving forward
The way forward is either good or bad for Destin fishermen.
The bad in my opinion would be more of the same. The Management system that federally permitted for-hire fishermen are under at the current time is the nail in the coffin. It's not for a lack people wanting to access fishing in the Gulf via federally permitted vessels. It is from our industry's reduced access due to unfair regulations to species that entice the American non-boat owning public to enjoy the access provided by federally permitted vessels.
Our industry is in large part of a mom and pop style business model with owner operators. With life savings invested into federally permitted business we struggle with scientific unknowns that perpetuate over reaching and highly buffered regulations.
The industry does have a light at the end of the tunnel. The Gulf Council is moving forward with a plan to change how federally permitted vessels are managed. This is the GOOD future for Destin fishermen. Our objective is to run a business that successfully and safely takes the American non boat owning public out to the public resource for them to enjoy.
We have been losing our historical access from fisheries at a steady rate for the better part of a decade, and now the Gulf Council is acting. The industry was devastated by the nine day Red Snapper season bestowed upon us this year which has shifted the majority of federally permitted vessel owners to support a Management system change. With states going non compliant to federal season lengths, which we can't really blame them, we were stuck with the left over’s. We now have a chance to actually have our fish counted instead of estimated, accessed instead of denied, and a chance to bring stability to an industry that has been broaching for some time now.
All in all the future of the Destin fishermen has a better chance at being good rather than bad if changes are made.
Jim Green is captain of the New Florida Girl's American Spirit and vice president of the Destin Charter Boat Association.