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Captain Rodney Smith

Conservation Through An Angler’S Eyes

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Conservation is understood by today's youth better than it is by today's parents

 

For the past fifteen years, I’ve talked conservation with kids and parents during the Anglers for Conservation’s Hook Kids on Fishing programs around Florida.

 

When I ask “What’s conservation?”I get some interesting answers. When I suggest “Isn’t conservation saving today for tomorrow?”eyes light up and even the parents’ heads nod in approval. Keeping those parents engaged is challenging.

 

Together we discuss protecting water and agree it's the world’s most precious resource. Without clean water, we have no fish. The kids understand the importance of practicing the “3 R’s” (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle). At school, they're taught to practice conservation.

 

We talk about how we can change our way of living to be more sustainable. We discuss a flood of topics connecting with conservation. Things like how we use water, how we treat your lawns and gardens, how we treat fish and wildlife and how laws, rules, and regulations are in place to protect our shared resources.

 

Conservation is a complex topic. Especially in Florida; a waning paradise blessed with enormous marine resources, and taxed by an expanding population. Thankfully the kids overwhelmingly agree; you can’t change anyone but yourself.

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Hi Rodney.You keep mentioning our expanding population as if there are more and more fisherman entering the fishery.I would believe that for inshore but totally not for offshore on the west coast.Whenever I go out during the week I cover anywhere from 50 to 100mi round trip.Once you are over about 5 miles out you see maybe 2 or 3 boats all day unless you go by the pipeline and you might see 6 or 7 boats all day.On the weekend a few more but the amount of large offshore boat trailers are 70 percent less than you did years ago when gas was cheap and the regulations killing us.I know many anglers that have sold their offshore boats and either fish inshore or gave up fishing because of the crowds inshore.I believe the Feds estimates of how many fish we catch offshore are so inflated because they still use the same data collection system that congress told them was fatally flawed and not to continue to use to manage the fishery anymore.The best part is now in their emails NOAA sends you they use anglers anecdodle evidence to further restrict us but never to help us.I am telling every offshore angler I know to not tell them anything at the ramp or on the phone anymore.The latest red grouper fiasco is a prime example of just that.I hate to be that way but their science is made up to meet their agenda.The fact that people on the council don't want us to have a rec advisory panel says a ton. Vance

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Vance is 100% correct.

 

Expenses and regulations have pushed private boat owners inshore.

 

I know people who have offshore boats sitting idle while they use their kayaks or inshore boats 90% (or more) of the time.

 

Between myself and my in-laws we have a 26, 18, and 17.   The 26 gets used once or twice a year for the red snapper derby and sits idle the rest of the year unless we trailer it to the east coast or the keys for pelagics.

 

That means we're spending less money in the local economy on gas, ice, bait, gear, and etc...all the things locals would spend for offshore efforts.  We sure as hell don't pay for offshore charters while our boat sits on its trailer.

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Hi Rodney.You keep mentioning our expanding population as if there are more and more fisherman entering the fishery.I would believe that for inshore but totally not for offshore on the west coast.Whenever I go out during the week I cover anywhere from 50 to 100mi round trip.Once you are over about 5 miles out you see maybe 2 or 3 boats all day unless you go by the pipeline and you might see 6 or 7 boats all day.On the weekend a few more but the amount of large offshore boat trailers are 70 percent less than you did years ago when gas was cheap and the regulations killing us.I know many anglers that have sold their offshore boats and either fish inshore or gave up fishing because of the crowds inshore.I believe the Feds estimates of how many fish we catch offshore are so inflated because they still use the same data collection system that congress told them was fatally flawed and not to continue to use to manage the fishery anymore.The best part is now in their emails NOAA sends you they use anglers anecdodle evidence to further restrict us but never to help us.I am telling every offshore angler I know to not tell them anything at the ramp or on the phone anymore.The latest red grouper fiasco is a prime example of just that.I hate to be that way but their science is made up to meet their agenda.The fact that people on the council don't want us to have a rec advisory panel says a ton. Vance

You are correct, the expansion of population I'm referring to doesn't fish, but they vote, use water, fertilize and insecticide  their lawns, flush their toilets, buy plastic products, etc. Now should I mention what the developers will be doing to prepare the land for their invasion? I think you get my picture. I'm not talking fisheries regulations; I'm talking about the serious changes Florida's habitats, water quality and fisheries will experience in the coming years because of excessive growth.

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