In its continuing battle against overfishing and protecting all of our marine resources, The Snook and Gamefish Foundation is participating in the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s litigation against the Wakulla Fisherman’s Association attack on Florida’s long standing net ban. The Foundation is participating in the suit as “Amicus Curiae,” also known as a “friend of the Court.”

The Court officially granted the Foundation’s right to participate in the case on Jan. 29, which means the court will give full consideration to its brief in support of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission’s position in defense of the net ban and related administrative rules.

“I cannot stress enough how important this decision by the court is for the recreational fishing community we represent throughout the state,” said Brett Fitzgerald, Snook and Gamefish Foundation CEO. “It means recreational anglers will have a voice in one of the most important court cases facing the inland marine environment of our state right now.”

The case is an appeal of a November ruling by Leon County Circuit Court Judge Jackie Fulford who, in an 11-page order, overturned the net ban, the FWF rules implementing the ban and enjoined the FWF from regulating in relation to the net restriction. Fulford called the 1994 Net Ban a “legal absurdity” and effectively opened the doors for fishermen everywhere to place gill nets, rather than the hand-thrown nets required by the law.

Fulford based her decision in part on first-hand observation of fishermen throwing nets following the close of trial.

Sarah Hayter, Esq. of the law firm of Robert N. Hartsell, P.A. stated that “despite previous identical litigation, and precedent upholding the validity of the net ban amendment and the subsequent rules, the circuit court refused to recognize judicial precedent set by the Supreme Court of Florida.” The Foundation hired the law firm of Robert N. Hartsell, P.A. whose lawyers are well known for taking on cutting edge high profile cases to protect Florida’s sensitive environment.

The FWC immediately appealed Fulford’s ruling and requested the Appellate court to allow the agency to continue enforcing the law. Now, for the second time in 12 years, the law is being challenged. It was previously upheld after a challenge in 2002.

Logo courtesy Snook & Gamefish Foundation

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