Fighting for Gamefish Status for Georgia Redfish
Thanks to guys like Capt. Gordon Churchill in North Carolina and now Capt. Scott Wagner fighting battles, educating, and keeping us posted on conservation fronts, fish such as this are still possible to the average angler. Scott is a close angling friend of mind, co-founder of Georgiaredfish.org and we recently had the chance to discuss his fishery in GA. The newly formed, grassroots organization is committed to achieving game fish status for redfish fish in Ga and thus preserving redfish stocks.
What is the goal of the group and what will this achieve?
Game fish status would eliminate the commercial sale of redfish at market. Not only would this apply to commercial interests such as a shrimper selling by-catch of netting but more importantly to recreational anglers. Plenty of rod anglers, including guides, sell redfish at open markets.With liberal bag limits of 5 fish per person in the slot of 15-23 range, stocks are suffering.
You mean to tell me there are guides actually keeping fish from clients and selling them at market? That seems to be a conflict of interests to me.
You would think exactly that. Remember gill nets have been outlawed for years. Redfish game fish status would stop hook and line guys, guys spot lighting fish at night and even the jokers using bow/arrow set-ups. Game fish status would eliminate all of that. No one has a problem with personal consumption within the limits but lets stop the selling. Keep only what YOU can use. One only needs to look at states like TX and LA to realize the value of a redfish and the effects the change could have on our fishery.
Are you getting support from the GA CCA?
Ga. CCA has been in favor of the game fish status. Yet there does seem to some conflicting views on limit adjustments. There have actually been CCA board members being quoted as saying "we can not pursue creel limit changes for fear of losing membership". That's a bit of oddball view for an organization with a mission of stewardship and sensible access given the extremely liberal bag limits. Now they have stocked redfish in Wassau Sound but it has become a put and take fishery not a rebuilding of stocks.
What is the current status of State legislation?
The problem here is the lack of education amongst the decision makers. With out sound research information and stats how can anyone make informed judgements. Ultimately a resource commission or dept of wildlife should being in control or at the very least have a strong influential voice.
What can anglers do to help?
Visit the website at georgiaredfish.org for info on purchasing t-shirts and to make donations. Proceeds will help promote awareness and purchase ad space. The site is available to posting and comments. Use it as a way to spread the word.
Scott can be reached directly savannahfly.com. Looking forward to further discussions and comments on this matter.