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February 19, 2013

Georgia Anglers Rally to Save Red-Drum Game-Fish Bill

Commercial interests threaten to modify or kill plan that would ban harvest for sale

Georgia’s recreational saltwater anglers and conservation groups have stepped up the pressure on state legislators to pass HB 36, a bill filed last month to declare red drum a game fish — with no commercial harvest. According to the website GeorgiaRedfish.org, the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Ben Watson (R-Savannah) has been contacted by seafood interests and plans to insert a commercial allocation into the bill or drop it.

GeorgiaRedfish.org has asked all supporters to visit its site and use the easy email tool to notify the right legislators as soon as possible. The group asks that "HB 36 be passed in its original form, without any commercial quotas being added."

Red drum have game-fish status in five of the eight states in their primary range, according to the Coastal Conservation Association. Georgia currently allows the sale of redfish by properly licensed commercial fishermen, but the daily commercial bag limit is the same as the recreational limit — five fish in the 14- to 23-inch slot. North Carolina and Mississippi still allow directed commercial fisheries for red drum with quotas.