City leaders issue resolution supporting fisherman

Matt Algarin

With a unanimous vote Monday night, city leaders agreed to a resolution that would support the local fishing community.

With regulations continually shifting, representatives from the Destin Charter Boat Association were on hand to ask the city for support as it relates to Amendment 40 and sector separation for the for-hire fisherman. The resolution supports the development of a new fishery management plan and data collection system for recreational fisherman.

Capt. Gary Jarvis, who is in his 36th year as a fisherman, told city leaders that over the years, especially the past five, there have been “tremendous issues” with the federal management of the local fisheries. He said the current plan is older than bag phones.

“The Destin charter fleet has been running charters since the early ‘30s,” he said. “The heritage of this fleet goes back a long way.”

While there are a variety of fish that are prone to recent closures, the main topic of discussion commonly revolves around red snapper, which has seen its season cut more and more as of late, despite those on the water saying the fish are plentiful.

Jarvis said at one point in the ‘80s, you couldn’t catch a red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico due to overfishing, but that’s not the case any more.

As president of the Destin Charter Boat Association, Jarvis said he represents “81 small businesses,” along the harbor.

“We’ve got a resolution from the county,” he said. “We can’t do anything without the support of this community.”

Jarvis and other boat captains plan to attend a meeting with regulators in Biloxi, Miss., in the next week. He said that is when things get serious and decisions could be made.

As a long-time charter boat captain, George Eller said those making a living off the water have always been able to count on the city to back them up.

“The Destin Fishing Fleet has no greater ally, or greater friend, than the city of Destin,” he said. “They’ve stuck with us in good times and bad times.”