Commercial and Charter Fishermen Seeking Answers from Florida Governor Rick Scott
TALLAHASSEE, Fla., March 30, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — An unexpected, and yet unexplained, second submission of nominations for the Gulf of Mexico’s fishery management body has Governor Rick Scott fielding strong objections by those the eventual delegate would represent.
Two Gulf-wide commercial fishing organizations plus the region’s largest for federally-permitted charter and headboat vessels are requesting a response from the Governor on why he is eliminating the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council’s current Chairman and well-respected commercial delegate from Florida. Bob Gill is Florida’s lone commercial sector representative and owner of a wholesale/retail seafood market in Crystal River, FL.
“This seems to exemplify what those of us in industry have felt for years, the appointment process for this critical fishery management council is primarily a political one,” said David Krebs, president of the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance, one of the fishing organizations seeking a discussion with the Governor.
Krebs’ group, along with the Charter Fishermen’s Association and the Gulf Fishermen’s Association are all requesting the Governor’s response. Members of each group think the decision is politically based and threatens Florida’s commercial fishing industry, a significant economic driver for Florida’s iconic seafood industry and jobs in the state. Together, the groups represent hundreds of commercial fishermen and millions of seafood consumers nationally.
The grievances stem from an unexplained late substitution last week of Governor Scott’s original nominations to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). Florida is afforded four nominees to the Gulf Council: One each from the commercial, recreational and charter fishing sectors, and at least one “other” interest that is knowledgeable about the conservation and management of fisheries resources in the jurisdiction of the Council. All nominees vie for a single delegate seat which ultimately is appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce.
On March 15, 2012, Governor Scott nominated the well-respected Gill as his “preferred choice for the obligatory seat on the Council…I believe it is important that Mr. Gill continue as chairman of the council,” Scott wrote. “His reputation in both the commercial and recreational fishing communities as being impartial and open-minded would make him an ideal candidate to represent Florida on the Council.”
Five days later, which also was five days past the technical submission deadline, Governor Scott wrote a second letter that replaced Chairman Gill with a fisherman who does not participate of the Gulf of Mexico commercial fishing industry and who resides on Florida’s Atlantic coast. The same nominee only completed the recreational section of his initial nomination application to the Governor’s Office.
Glen Brooks, President of the Gulf Fishermen’s Association is awaiting a reply from the Governor to his meeting request. “Now more than ever, commercial fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico need representation on the Gulf Council that understand our businesses,” Brooks said. “Gov. Scott’s decision leaves us without the seasoned local representation our fishery needs.”
Chairman Gill has been involved in the fishing industry since 1986 and has an extensive educational background, including a bachelor’s degree from the United States Naval Academy and a master’s degree in ocean engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, wrote the Governor. “Mr. Gill served honorably in the United States Navy from 1966 to 1976, retiring as an Engineering Officer. He is a longtime member of the South-eastern Fisheries Association and director of Organized Fishermen of Florida,” Scott wrote.
Without adequate explanation, Scott’s change “feels like politics over public policy,” said Gary Jarvis, President of the Charter Fishermen’s Association. “To remove Chairman Gill from the Gulf Council endangers the businesses and communities that depend on the economic engine of charter for hire fleets and on the local commercial fishing industry up and down Florida’s Gulf Coast,” Jarvis said. “We’re anticipating more perspective from the Governor when we meet.”
The Gulf Fishermen’s Association is a Florida-based, non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring the fishing future for all fishermen. www.gulffishermen.org
The Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance is a 501c(6) trade association representing IFQ fishermen and associated dealers who provide consumers year-round access to high-quality, responsibly-caught seafood year-round. www.shareholdersalliance.org
The Charter Fishermen’s Association is trade association of charter and head boat fishermen who operate in the Gulf of Mexico. The for-hire fishing sector provides access to millions of recreational fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico every year. www.charterfisherman.org
SOURCE Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance