Fishing Issues

The angry commercial fishermen

Commercial fishermen in Florida, and more recently in Louisiana, have conducted skirmishes that could lead to open war on sport fishermen. They feel that some regulations designed to protect the species prevent them from earning a living.

How disruptive have their actions been? Rip Cunningham’s shocking editorial (Salt Water Sportsman, February 1996) details how commercial fishermen ambushed, stormed and trashed a fisherman’s vehicle, trailer and boat and stole the equipment. The angler was taking his son fishing for some quality bonding. “Other commercial netters have threatened a campaign of burning sport fishermen’s camps and boats,” Cunningham writes.

The U.S. commercial fishing industry is angry about its losses in Florida, Louisiana and other states. It has formed Seafood for America to “educate the public…protect consumers’ rights…informing the seafood-consuming public of the threats to their rights of access to public resources .” Translation: Commercial fishermen are going to fight the sportfishing establishment by trying to influence public opinion.

We all applauded Costa Rican President Jose Maria Figueres when he initiated some stringent regulations, protecting billfish from commercial and sport fishermen. These new measures would insure the survival of billfish on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast, once considered the world’s best place for Pacific sails. The commercial fishermen staged all kinds of blockades in harbors and on the streets and highways of Costa Rica, paralyzing some areas. Simultaneously, a member of Congress from Puntarenas (the major commercial fishing port) challenged the constitutionality of the new law in the courts. Costa Rica had no choice but to back off–for the time being. Presumably, sailfish and marlin are ending up in the U.S. again, to be sold for a few cents a pound and to be processed for pet food. What a pity!

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