Destin captains speak out in favor of Sector Separation

TINA HARBUCK

About 30 captains, deckhands and wives from Destin made the trek to Panama City Tuesday night to speak in favor of sector separation for the management of the red snapper fishery.

"It's going to happen," said Capt. George Eller of the charter boat Checkmate 2 who was in attendance at the meeting along with his wife.

"Nine days ain't gonna get it," he said.

This year, the Florida's red snapper season was 52 days in state waters and nine for those boats holding federal permits. Most of Destin's charter boats hold federal permits and have to abide by federal laws, no matter what the state decides.

"Hopefully sector separation will give us more than nine days," Eller told The Log down on the docks Wednesday afternoon as they unloaded their catch.

"We've got to forge ahead, because we're losing ground."

Eller said everybody says they want better data concerning the red snapper.

Under sector separation, "each one of the boats will be giving a real-time data on what they catch … that's what they want," Eller said.

Eller wasn't the only Destin captain to speak at the meeting.

"Destin charter boat captains and mates made sure they know we want a new management plan for our customers and fishery," said Capt. Gary Jarvis who also serves as president of the Destin Charter Boat Association.

"This is not against the private recreational fisherman," Jarvis said.

"Amendment 40 (which deals with sector separation) closes the state water loophole. The non-compliance season by the state won’t affect us anymore," Jarvis said.

"We need a federal solution to this federal problem," Jarvis told The Log on the docks Wednesday.

"Amendment 40 is going to be better for everybody that fishes in the Gulf of Mexico," he said.

As president of the DCBA, Jarvis was excited to see the turnout of the many younger captains in the Destin fleet.

"Half of our people that showed up were guys under 30 … our future fleet, our future heritage," he said.

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Reef Fish Amendment 40 - Sector Separation

The amendment would separate the allocation of snapper for the charter/for-hire operators from private recreational anglers.