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November 07, 2013

Gill Netters Kicked Out of Florida Waters For Now

The First District Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the FWC, allowing on-the-water officers to enforce the net-limitation rules.

Reasonable minds may be gaining traction in Florida as the latest attempt to re-instate devastating gill net practices into Florida fisheries was temporarily temporarily stopped Wednesday, the Coastal Conservation Association says.

Leon County Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford ordered a halt to enforcement of Florida’s constitutional amendment banning gill nets in coastal waters in late October after commercial interests in Wakulla County sued. But recreational fishermen quickly fought the ruling, backed by an appeal from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and supporting groups such as Coastal Conservation Association Florida.

On Nov. 6, the First District Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the FWC and reinstated the automatic stay that was ordered to be removed by Judge Fulford. The removal of the stay by Judge Fulford allowed commercial netters to slam inshore species for almost a week. Commercial netters flocked to Florida from Louisiana, Georgia, Alabama and North Carolina to gill net.

CCA Florida applauded the FWC for standing up to Judge Fulford's ruling and for their efforts to protect Florida's fisheries from gill nets. Attorney General Pam Bondi and attorney Jonathan Glogau provided the vital legal work to stop the potential onslaught to Florida's coastal fish, says the CCA.

"This ruling is a step in the right direction but the fight is far from over. There is a much larger battle ahead. We need to stay focused on this issue and make sure it is put to bed once and for all" said CCA Florida Chairman, Jim Williams. CCA has filed in Florida's 1st DCA on the side of the FWC to ask the appellate court to reverse Judge Jackie Lee Fulford's order allowing gill netting in state waters.

CCA Florida's Chairman reiterated that, "we will spend every penny necessary to protect the constitutional ban on gill netting". Now that gill nets are out of Florida's waters, CCA attorneys will focus on reversing Judge Fulford's original order.