5). This ban on nets has led to a dramatic comeback for a variety of fish species, including the Spanish mackerel and Florida mullet. In the following essay I intend to show the ban laws, what they encompass whom they affected, as well as their reaction. Most importantly, I intend to show the ban has made an overall improvement on Florida’s marine environment. Over the past 100 years, Florida has been known for having some of the best recreational fishing as well as marine environments. Locals and tourists alike could pick any given day to spend on the water and return with a wide variety of game fish.
Unfortunately, over the past decade this trend has been on the decline. The cause of this decrease in the population of Florida’s marine environment as well as in other parts of the world, is the indiscriminate use of the monofilament fishing net (par. 2). One of the areas that have seen just how destructive these nets can be, is the Florida Coast. In 1990, commercial gill-netters harvested 26 million pounds of mullet (DeYoung, par. 56).
In 1994, Florida’s became alarmed when the mullet spawning population plummeted to about 15 percent of normal. They also felt the impact this loss of forage food had on game fish. One of the largest causes of this plummet is the lucrative market in the Far East for mullet row, which had almost completely decimated Florida’s stock of these fish (Stearns, par. 2-3). Due to this large decline, the Florida Marine Fisheries Commission (MFC) placed restrictions on recreational and commercial harvest of mullet.
In 1992, recreational fishermen were now limited to fifty fish per boat per day, with no size limit, while commercial fishermen have no “bag limit”, but are required to release any mullet under eleven inches in length. The results of the restrictions lowered the harvest on mullet by recreational fishermen from four million to one million pounds. There was a 75 percent reduction in recreational harvest as a result of the FMC’s restrictions. On the other hand, the commercial industry landings went up, until the collapse began in 1993 (DeYoung, Par. 52-57). After the restrictions failed in 1993, the people of Florida demanded something be done.
So in November of 1994, they went to the polls and voted 72 percent to 28 percent for a constitutional amendment to ban all gill nets in state waters (Julavits, Par. 2,4). When the law went into effect in July 1995, it contained two significant provisions: 1) some non-gill nets would be allowed, but maximum size would now be limited to 500 square feet; and 2) unemployment compensation would be available to affected netters through a 20 million dollar fund set aside to purchase the nets that would be made obsolete. This net “buyback” subsequently became one of the most shameful scams in Florida’s history. The commercial netters quickly discovered a loophole that paid them up to ten times more for seine nets than gill nets.
A slight and inexpensive modification was needed to convert the gill nets into seine nets that met the provisions of this law. For example, one netter turned in fifty-six of these modified seine nets for over $190,000 thousand dollars. Several other netters passed the $100,000 thousand dollar mark, and quite a few made at least $50,000 thousand dollars for similar efforts. In all, the state of Florida paid almost eight million dollars for bogus nets alone (Stearns, Par.
6-8). To further this exploit, an error in the program intended to recycle the nets for raw materials, caused most of the nets to be auctioned off instead of recycled. The nets were subsequently then bought back by the same netters who sold them, for pennies on the dollar. Soon there after, the same nets were reported to be back in