COURT UPHOLDS FWC RULING ON HYBRID
October 27, 2004
Contact: Kim Jamerson (850) 488-1638
The 1st District Court of Appeal, on Tuesday, affirmed and upheld the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commissions (FWC) declaratory statement that asserted a so-called hybrid commercial saltwater fishing net was illegal.
The court's decision, which settled the case of Ronald Fred Crum and Keith Ward v. FWC, supported the FWC's interpretation of Article X, Section 16 of the Florida Constitution in prohibiting nets with larger mesh size designed to entangle marine fish. Current FWC rule prohibits use of a seine with a mesh size larger than 2 inches stretched mesh. A seine is a non-entangling net used to encircle and concentrate fish for harvesting.
In March 2003, Crum and Ward filed a petition for declaratory statement, asking whether their "hybrid" net, with a mesh size larger than two inches to select legal-size mullet, violated the constitutional provision or FWC rules. The petitioners argued their hybrid net did not violate the constitution or FWC rules, because it was a non-entangling piece of net gear that would catch fish in a manner other than a seine.
In June 2003, the FWC issued its declaratory statement ruling the hybrid net was, in fact, illegal. The Commission stated that based on the specifications it is clear the hybrid net is intended to entangle. With its latest decision, the 1st District Court of Appeal has upheld the FWCs position.
I think its significant, because there has
been a lot of discussion about hybrid nets and whether
the constitution left room for the creation of a net that could get
around the two-inch rule. I think the court put that issue to rest
with this ruling, said Jim Antista, FWC General Counsel.
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