I often read Bob McNally’s outdoors columns and am frequently informed and entertained.

 

However, a recent piece, “Why are Spotted Seatrout not Gamefish?,” left me scratching my head.

To be clear, we are both in agreement that gamefish status for this species needs due and complete consideration and public debate.

My exception begins and ends with his assault on commercial fishing. Here at HI-LINER we have a unique division of supply to both the recreational and commercial sectors. We remain sensitive to arguments on both sides of the water.

It is our humble perspective that demonizing any fisherman runs counter to our mission.

A direct comparison of the recreational six-fish limit and the commercial 75-fish limit is more than a little misleading without at least a little context. Fisheries management, whether state or federal, is an exceedingly delicate balance of allocation between competing interests.

Management of our marine resources has worked best when the recreational and commercial user groups work cooperatively and respectfully.

• Spotted Seatrout are a public resource owned by all Florida citizens.

• Commercial fishermen provide access to the public owners on local markets guaranteeing a supply of local fresh Florida fish.

• Commercial fishermen take the large capital risk in vessels and gear.

• Less than one tenth of 1 percent of Floridians will ever set a hook in a game fish.

• An obscene amount of the fish available in markets and restaurants is imported from places with little conservation ethic.

• The rate and pace of coastal development and sea grass stress may make this conversation moot.

We agree that healthy fish stocks and habitat are key and the touchstones of marine fishery management.

These tenets are in the self interest of all recreational and commercial anglers. Each has a role. Fostering respect and exchange shortens the voyage to effective fishing regulations.

After all, “It’s no fish ye’re buying, it’s men’s lives.”

Edward Gaw, president,

HI-LINER Fishing Gear Inc.,

Green Cove Springs