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NFC: Fw: == Fish Feeding Action Alert ==



The issue of feeding sharks and other marine life underwater by commercial dive boats has been before the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission (FWC) three times now, and has been the subject of two workshops and EXTENSIVE public debate since the fall of 1999.

In September 2000 the Commission was to adopt a rule prohibiting this activity in state waters that Reef Relief, other environmental groups, many scientists, divers, surfers, beach-goers and many coastal communities strongly supported - for a number of good common sense reasons:

Unfortunately, because of a strong showing at the meeting (orchestrated by Dive Industry representatives and commercial dive operators) the Commission instead gave industry an opportunity to come up with their own guidelines to self-regulate and allow this activity to flourish in state waters.  On May 24, 2001, the FWC found the industry guidelines inadequate. But, instead of directing staff to bring back the rule to ban this dangerous and foolish activity, they directed them to help industry try to fix them in the form of “Best Management Practices” for shark feeding. All this effort has been for four (4) commercial fish feeders in southeast Florida. But more will surely get into the business if the state guidelines, with no enforcement mechanism or regulations, are approved and adopted by the Commission on September 6th.

Although the FWC staff did the best they could to address the public’s safety and animal’s welfare with their recommendations, the result is the same ? a totally inappropriate and unenforceable activity in conflict with other water based recreational opportunities in a state blessed with diverse marine wildlife. We don’t need to feed it to understand and enjoy it.

Please help tell the Commission, enough is enough. Reject the industry’s self regulating guidelines and start rule making immediately to ban underwater fish Feeding in Florida waters.

Write, email, fax or call the Commission before September 3rd.
Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission             EMAIL:  marine at gfc_state.fl.us
Divisions of Marine Fisheries                         FAX:  (850) 487-4847
 620 S. Meridian Street                                    PHONE:  (850) 487-0554
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1600
Or, plan to attend the Commission meeting, Thursday, September 6th - Amelia Island Plantation, just north of Jacksonville, FL at 9:00 AM.

For more information contact: Paul Johnson, at (850) 926-7439, paulj488 at aol_com
Reef Relief, is a non-profit organization dedicated to Preserve and Protect Living
Coral Reefs through Local, Regional and International Efforts.
http://www.reefrelief.org P.O. Box 430, Key West, FL. 33041 tel (305) 294-3100 fax (305) 293-9515