Captains give thumbs up on Amendment 40, but want more law enforcement on the water


Charter boat captains gave a nod to Amendment 40 at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission public workshop Tuesday night, but said they would like to see more law enforcement on the water.

“Amendment 40 is the best thing that could have happened  for the federally permitted boats,” said Capt. George Eller of the Checkmate II

In the past, charter fishermen and recreational fishermen have been lumped together into one management plan for red snapper. However, with the passage of “Amendment 40” aka sector separation, the charter boat fishermen now have the chance to better manage the fishery with their own separate allocation.

“We want the feds to have real data,” Eller said, which he thinks can be done with fish tags or electronic records.

FWC officials were at the Destin Community Center Tuesday night for a workshop collecting information from our local fisherman on how they can better serve them in the future.

“As far as the state for the state fishery, I have no complaint,” Eller said. “But I don’t see what you can do for us,” as federally permitted boats.

This year the charter boats which carry federal permits had a 44-day red snapper season, while recreational anglers have 70 days total in state waters.

Last year federally permited fishing vessels had only a nine day season for red snapper.

“Kudos on Amendment 40,” said David Krebs of Aerial Seafood, who was also in attendance at Tuesdsay’s meeting.

“I was ashamed of the state last year and the way they put the squeeze on the charter boats,” Krebs said.

However, the allocation split on red snapper this year, “I think it’s fair and I hope we can convince to keep it status quo.

“I think we are moving forward in the right direction,” Krebs added.

Capt. Jim Green of the New Florida Girl’s American Spirit also commended the state on the sector separation and the number of days.

“It’s the first time in a decade that we’ve come close to having an equal season,” Green said.

“I think this has served to be good for everybody,” he added.

The other big topic of the evening was law enforcement.

“Every time I get boarded they are professional, fast and courteous … they are on top of their game,” Eller said. “We just need 10-fold more.”

Capt. Stan Phillips of the Destination charter boat expressed concern about how they can police where the fish are being caught.

“You don’t know where the fish are coming from,” Phillips said.

State waters extend from shore out to nine nautical miles; nine miles and beyond is federal waters.

“Without a radar, how do you know?,” Phillips said.

Phillips said he would like to see something like fish tags, where each boat is allotted a certain number of tags.

“It takes the iffy stuff out … because when you’re out you are out,” he said.

“It would also do away with the derby season,” for snapper, Eller said.

With the short seasons, the boats are running two and sometimes three trips a day in order to catch red snapper.

“We just want to manage our fishery,” Phillips said. “We’re just asking the state not to get in the way.”

“You manage your fishery and we’ll manage ours,” Eller added.

• Other topics of discussion:

Capt. Scott Robson commended the state for going compliant with the federal regultions on amberjack and triggerfish steason. He also asked if there could be some kind of tag for guide boats, so they could be easily recognized.

Robson also noted that the cobia fishery needs attention. “The whole fishery has been in trouble and we need to protect the breeders,” he said.

This workshop was just one of 14 that FWC is conducting throughout the state through the end of July. FWC staff will compile the feedback and put together a presentation for the November Commission meeting in Panama City.

 For a video on what the FWC law enforement has been doing, CLICK HERE.