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Augusta, Lewis P.,
Lewis Augusta oral history interview
h [electronic resource] /
interviewed by Terry Howard.
Tampa, Fla. :
University of South Florida Tampa Library,
1 sound file (31 min.) :
digital, MPEG4 file +
e 1 transcript (29 p.)
Oculina Bank oral history project
Interview conducted March 29, 2010.
Oral history interview with charter boat captain Lewis Augusta. Augusta is the owner of Big Fish Incorporated, a party boat company that operates out of Fort Pierce. His family owned three head boats in New York, and he captained on the weekends while working as a tax specialist. Augusta's business was very successful up north before he brought it to Fort Pierce in 1999, which was after the restrictions on Oculina Bank went into effect. Even if the area were open to fishing, he would not likely go there since the current is not conducive to the type of fishing he does. In Augusta's opinion, closed areas are a poor way to manage a fishery; he prefers quotas, bag limits, and size limits. He is concerned about the accuracy of the scientific evidence being used to make the regulations, since it does not correlate with his observations and those of other local fishermen. In this interview, Augusta also explains how his charter boat business works, describing the places where he takes clients and a typical day's events.
Augusta, Lewis P.,
Charter boat captains
Charter boat fishing
Fort Pierce (Fla.)
Saint Lucie County (Fla.)
Howard, Terry Lee,
Gulf and South Atlantic Fisheries Development Foundation.
University of South Florida Libraries.
Florida Studies Center.
Oral History Program.
University of South Florida.
Oculina Bank oral history project.
y USF ONLINE ACCESS
xml version 1.0 encoding UTF-8 transcript
text Terry Howard: Today is the twenty-ninth of March 2010, and my name is Terry Howard. Â Again, today is March 29, 2010. Â Im at the Fort Pierce City Marina on a boat called Captain
Lewis Augusta: Its the fishing vessel, Captain Lew.
TH: The fishing vessel, Captain Lew. Â Conducting an oral interview with?
LA: Lewis P. Augusta.
TH: Lewis P. Augusta, for the Gulf and South Atlantic Fisheries Foundations Project with Fort Pierce fishermen on the Oculina Bank HAPC [Habitat Area of Particular Concern]. Â Welcome, Captain Lew. Â Please state and spell your name, your place of birth, and your date of birth.
LA: Lewis, L-e-w-i-s. Â Middle initial, P. Â Last name, Augusta, A-u-g-u-s-t-a. Â Place of birth is New York. Â Date of birth is July 19, 1944.
TH: July 19, 1944. Â Where, New York City?
TH: Okay. Â Whend you move to Fort Pierce?
LA: I dont live in Fort Pierce. Â I live in Vero Beach.
TH: Okay. Â And what brought you to this area?
LA: Bring the business down south.
TH: What business would that be?
LA: Big Fish Incorporated.
TH: Big Fish Incorporated. Â And can you be more specific? Â What does Big Fish Incorporated entail?
LA: It owns party boats.
TH: Oh, okay. Â And you own the business, or you
LA: Yes, Im the owner.
TH: Okay, and how many party boats do you have?
LA: Right now we just have one left.
TH: Okay. Â Are you married?
TH: And how old were you when you got married?
TH: And you have children?
TH: How many and how old?
LA: Forty and thirty-seven.
TH: Okay. Â Male? Â Female?
TH: Both girls, okay.
TH: Okay. How much schooling do you have?
LA: I have a masters degree.
TH: In what?
LA: Taxation. Â I also have a law degree in from the University of Miami Law School.
TH: Youre kidding me!
LA: No, Im not.
TH: Cool. Â You have a
LA: Well, I should say its a certificate from the University of Miami Law School with a specialty in taxation.
TH: Cool! Â So youre a tax specialist?
LA: I used to be.
LA: A long, long time ago, another life.
TH: Okay. Â Do you have another job besides charter boat or
TH: and head boat fishing?
TH: What other jobs have you had? Â You know, I mean
LA: What have I had?
LA: Okay, Ive worked forI was a federal agent when I graduated from college.
TH: With the?
LA: U.S. Treasury Department.
LA: Special agent.
LA: Internal Revenue Service Fraud Squad.
TH: Okay. Â What squad?
LA: I worked for the Chase Manhattan Bank, and I worked for the Raytheon company.
TH: Cool. Â What did you do for Chase Manhattan?
LA: I was Vice President and Director of Financial Planning.
TH: Oh, yeah? Â Wow. Â And then for Raytheon?
LA: I was a program manager in government programs. Â I was program manager for the Stinger Program.
TH: The Stinger missiles?
TH: Interesting. Â Do you currently own a boat?
LA: Personally? Â No.
TH: (laughs) Corporation?
TH: Okay. Â (laughs) What kind of boat and length, and could you describe the boat?
LA: Sixty-five foot DMR head boat licensed for seventy passengers to twenty miles, sixty-four to a hundred miles.
TH: And whats your power (inaudible)?
LA: Two GMA 892 T.I.s injected at 650 horsepower each.
TH: All right, cool. Â Now Im gonna ask questions about the Oculina Bank. Â How familiar are you with the Oculina Bank?
LA: Not very.
TH: Youre not very familiar with it?
LA: I mean, I know where the boundaries and stuff
TH: You know where it is?
LA: Yeah, we know where it is. Â Weve never really targeted that area, because I guess when we got here they had a partial closure in place.
TH: Ah. Â You came after the closure.
LA: Yeah. Â We got here September 22, 1999.
TH: Okay. Â So youve never fished here before, then?
LA: Individually, yes, but not as a business.
TH: Okay. What was the Oculinahow familiar are you with the Oculina Bank?
LA: The contours and stuff?
LA: Yeah, you know, from the charts and stuff Ive looked at and seen whats there. Â I know about the coral and the habitat.
TH: Can you elaborate why was the Oculina designated as an area to protect?
LA: I guess, from what Ive read, it was an area of potential spawning for grouper and snapper and they wanted to protect the area from bottom fishing, basically, no anchors and stuff like that; and protect the Oculina coral from the shrimpers, so they didnt destroy the habitat.
TH: Yeah, the shrimp draggers. Â Initially, that was whatI had a list of the chronology of theI left it, but I can pretty much tell you. Â Oh, okay. Â What do you think about the closure of the Oculina Bank to anchoring and bottom fishing? Â How do you feel about the closure to anchoring and bottom fishing? Â It was originally closed to dragging.
LA: Right. Â Shrimping, trolling, and stuff like that.
TH: Right. Â Not trolling, uh
LA: Bottom troll.
TH: Yeah. Â Okay.
LA: Just so you know, we had to have owned draggers and gill netters.
TH: Okay. Â So what do you think about the closure?
LA: I dont think its had any effect on the
TH: Anchoring and bottom fishing?
LA: Yeah. Â I dont think its had any positive effect on the fishingthat I can see.
TH: Ah, no positive effect on the fishing.
LA: Nah. Â We shouldve left that open; it wouldve been just as well. Â I dont think that
TH: Has the closure affected your fishing, and how?
LA: We normally wouldnt fish there.
TH: You wouldnt go out that far?
LA: I mean, we do, but Iyou know, not knowing enoughI guess, basically, Terry, what Im saying is what Ive been told is the current really screens out there, and we cant fish in that kind of current.
TH: You have to power fish, I think.
LA: You know, we anchor up, and twelve to sixteen ounces of lead is a lot. Â Im not gonna take my customers out there and put on thirty-two ounces of lead and motor drift around. Â Ive done enough of that up on Georges Bank in the Gulf of Maine; I dont need to do that anymore.
Georges Bank is a large elevated area of the sea floor which separates the Gulf of Maine from the Atlantic Ocean.
TH: So, lets explain. Â This is a head boat. Â Its not a trolling charter.
LA: No. Â Its bottomwe do 100 percent bottom fishing.
TH: All right. Â Thats what I wanted to make sure youokay. Â If anchoring and bottom fishing in the Oculina Bank was not prohibited, would you fish there?
LA: Most likely not.
TH: Okay. Â Overall, how has fishing changed since you began fishing in the Fort Pierce area? Â So, youve been here for ten years, eleven years?
LA: Since September 22 of ninety-nine . Â So, its gonna be eleven years this September.
LA: Ive seen ups and downs. Â Ive seen the mutton snapper disappear, and Ive seen the mutton snapper come back with a vengeance since last year.
TH: Has it been a good year for mutton snapper?
TH: Thats good.
LA: Amazing. Â I talkGlenn and I talk on the radio or the cell phone all the time.
Glenn Cameron, who was also interviewed for the Oculina Bank Oral History Project. The DOI for his interview is O6-00006.
I know what we do when he comes back and bottom fishes, and we slayed them on Saturday.
TH: Now, the, uhhave you had any experience with law enforcement within or regarding the Oculina Bank?
TH: Okay. Â Now, I want to talk about your fishing history, specifically. Â What is your earliest memory of fishing, and how old were you?
LA: Five years old.
TH: Okay and where was that? Â Who taught you?
LA: Sheepshead Bay [New York]. Â My father.
TH: Sheepshead Bay.
TH: Okay. Â Thats where Tommy McHaleIm surprised you dont know Tommy McHale.
LA: The name sounds familiar.
TH: Ill show you some pictures.
LA: My family owned the Victory, the Jovial, and the Tambo, three big head boats out of the Sheepshead Bay.
TH: Sheephead Bay. Â Okay, and youre five years old, you worked on head boats with your parents?
LA: No, with uncles.
TH: Uncles. Â Okay.
TH: How did you decide to become a head boat captain?
LA: Ive been a licensed captain since 1966. Â It was just something you had to do.
TH: Because it was in the family, in the blood?
LA: Family. Â Thats right, yeah.
TH: And when did you start fishing in Fort Pierce area, age and year?
TH: Twenty-two, aught-nine ?
LA: Of 1999.
TH: But didnt you say you fished here earlier on your own?
LA: Oh, I had. Â I had some friends that live up on the island that we fished in the river with.
TH: Oh, okay. Â Were you fishing commercially, recreationally, or working on charter boat sector? Â When did you start fishing in the, I guess, commercial sector? Â Did you do any commercial fishing when you were young, or just mate on?
LA: No, I was captain on the head boat since sixty-six , when I first got my license.
TH: Oh, yeah? Â But didnt that interfere with your other jobs?
LA: I did it on the weekends.
TH: Oh, yeah?
LA: I ran night bluefish trips. Â I got sucked into all the things nobody else wanted to do.
TH: Okay. Â And thenso this, so you justcommercially, and
LA: I had my own private boats, also, at the same time.
TH: Early on! Â You have quite a history. Â Okay, cool. Â What did you fish for, and how did you fish when you first started?
LA: All bottom fishing. Â We did bottom fishing. Â We did tuna fishing, bluefish.
TH: How did youdid you bottom fish for tuna?
LA: Naw. Â We wouldwell, wed anchor up and fish for tuna. Â Yeah.
TH: You jigged for
LA: Chum and jig em.
TH: Chum em and then?
LA: Yeah, footballs. Â You know, those small footballs? Â Bluefin.
TH: Okay. Â Yeah.
LA: Then we expanded. Â This boats been to the canyons, I cant tell ya how many times.
TH: The canyons?
LA: Hudson Beach, Atlantis, Block Canyon.
TH: Is that the Grand Banks [Newfoundland]?
LA: No. Â Its east of New England; it was a 180 mile ride for us one way.
TH: Okay. Â And how did you fish? Â How deep is that water, the canyons?
TH: So how did you fish that? Â I mean
LA: We tie off to an off-shore lobster pot.
TH: (laughs) Are you kidding? Â An off-shore lobster pot?
TH: They had the buoy on that? Â Theyre heavy enough.
LA: Right. Â The high-flyer, wed tie off on it, float back, wed start chummin, and puttin the lines out.
TH: How deep would you fish?
LA: We fished anywhere, you know, depending where we marked the fish. Â That machine, I think, is a 3,000 foot machine, and when we marked the fish, we told them to put em out at 100 feet, 200 feet, 300 feet. Â Put a sinker, and tie it on with electrical tape and a rubber band, or a rubber band, fish it, break it off, fight the fish. Â Glenn knows all about that stuff.
TH: Cool! Â Ive never heard this. Â This is fascinating to me. I mean, I was, likeokay. Â And did you fish this boat, this particular boat, or
LA: This boat was fished, yes.
TH: Now, this was about what years were you fishing?
LA: We built this boat in eighty-seven , so we did it in eighty-seven , eighty-eight , eighty-nine , ninety , ninety-one , and ninety-two .
TH: Out of Sheepshead Bay?
LA: No, out of Newburyport, Massachusetts.
TH: Okay. Â All right. Â Fascinating. Â So how far a run was that?
LA: For us? Â The way we went was 180 miles each way.
TH: So how long was the
LA: It was a twelve hour ride down, twelve hour ride back, and we fished three days. Â This boat used to have bunks on it, which Ive ripped out. Â Used to take sixteen
TH: Oh, this was commercial fishing?
LA: No. Â A party boat, tuna fish.
TH: Oh, yeah? Party boat for tuna fish.
LA: Yeah. Â Yellowfin, in particular. Â Yellowfin, albacore, mahis, swordfish.
TH: Wow. Â And how many people would you take?
LA: Max of sixteen.
TH: And how much per trip for a person?
LA: Back in those days, I think it was $350 for a three-day trip.
TH: Wow. Â And you got most of your people out of Boston? Â New York?
LA: All over the United States to come fish with us.
TH: Cause they heard about
LA: Yeah, we were one of thewell, we were the first pilot out of the Gulf of Maine to do it.
TH: Cool. Â Okay, so who did you fish with? Â Who owned the boat?
LA: I did.
TH: And how were you related to the person? Â Do you have family? Â Nephews?
LA: No. Â That was me and my crew, my relief captains.
TH: Okay. Â And this was after you got out of the banking and
TH: (laughs) Okay. Â Where did you go to fish when you began fishing? Â Okay, that would be Sheepshead Bay?
LA: Yep. Â We fished the New York pike.
TH: Okay. Â Around Verrazano Bridge?
LA: No, no. Â Thats known as the Guinea Gangplank.
TH: Okay. (laughs) Â Can you show me on the map? Â Okay.
LA: Yes, I can. Â We fished from basically Fire Island on the eastern side down to Manasquan Ridge on the southern side out to probably thirty-five, forty miles.
TH: Great. Â Where did you fish when you began fishing, can you show me on the map? Â During the months, what year (sneezes)
LA: God bless you.
TH: I have an allergy problem, so this rain
LA: I hope its not the money, cause you shouldnt have that allergy, now. Â The governments taking care of that.
TH: Okay, where did you go to fish when you began fishing? Â You started off around Sheepshead Bay, and did you go outdoesnt that lead out intodont you have to go to through the river to get out into the ocean?
LA: You go through Jamaica Bay.
TH: Okay, to get to the ocean.
TH: Did you fish the ocean, or in the river?
LA: The ocean.
LA: We did not fish in the bay; the boats were too big.
TH: Did you fish for halibut, for?
LA: Bottom fished.
LA: Yes, we did, in the winter months. Â The boat sailed year-round.
TH: Okay. Â In the winter you fished for cod; in the summertime?
LA: Fluke, sea bass, flounder.
TH: Fluke. Â Flounder, yeah. Â Sea bass.
LA: Porgies, bluefish, and then we ranin the fall, we ran these chips for what they call the football, the small bluefin tuna.
TH: Okay, so this is duringwhat months did you fish for what fish? Â Lets go back over this, again: winter?
LA: In the winter, cod.
TH: Okay. Â And
LA: Spring: mackerel, sea bass, blackfish.
TH: What are blackfish?
TH: I wouldnt know that.
LA: You wouldnt know that? Â Know what a cunner is? Â You know what a bergall is?
TH: Im from Florida, since 1971.
LA: Let me see. Â Your closest, then, would come to up here. Â Like an oversized grunt.
LA: You know what they look like?
LA: A French grunt?
TH: I dont know about a French grunt. Â I know a grunt.
LA: Yeah, but big, you know? Yeah.
TH: Ah, cool.
LA: But they have teeth, two teeth.
TH: Ah, like a sheephead or something?
LA: That is as close as youre gonna find.
LA: Okay. Â In the summer, it was fluke and bluefish.
LA: In the fall, it was mackerel and cod.
TH: Summer: fluke, bluefish. Â We had a nice run of blues. Â And fall?
LA: Fall is mackerel and cod.
TH: Okay. Â Your last fishnow youre fishing in Florida. Â Whats your main target fish down here?
LA: Snapper and grouper.
TH: Snapper and grouper. Â And this closure of snapper and grouper, has that affected your fishing?
LA: Yes. Â It has affected our fishing. Â It has affected our business negatively.
TH: Okay, in a big way?
LA: Not really. Â The biggest impact that weve had is the red snapper closure.
LA: We reallyyou know, were not a grouper boat. Â Most of my customers like to fish for muttons, mangroves [snapper], and genuines [red snapper].
TH: So, the red snapper closure has affected you.
LA: Absolutely. Â Negatively.
TH: In a bad way.
LA: Yes, a very bad way, based on poor science.
TH: Now, elaborate on that. Â Cause Ive heardIve had other people say that theyve seen better snapper fishing recently than they have in a long
LA: Ever! Â Lets see
TH: Can you elaborate on that?
LA: Saturday, we threw back six cubera [and] genuines over twenty inches. Â Wednesday, we threw back a fifteen pound genuine. Â Last Saturday, Captain Jimmy threw back nine genuines over ten pounds, the biggest being seventeen. Â And I can catch them every single day that we go out if I want to, but I wont go and target them.
TH: Thats never been
LA: Never better.
TH: Never been better.
LA: Captain Jimmy has workedJimmy Gallagher, who worked with me, is a friend of mine. Â My relief captain has run head boats down here for the last twenty-something years and he said he has never seen more red snapper now than he has everever!
TH: Okay. Â Ive heard that from several of the captains, and its interesting.
LA: Terry, I can go catch em in sixty-five feet of water.
TH: So, why is it that theres a closure on it?
LA: Poor science! Â Not listening to fishermen! Â Using release mortality thats unrealistic. Â Forty percent release mortality is unheard of! Â Weve had observers on the boat. Â Our release mortality is less than 5 percent, nowhere near 40 percent! When you use 40 percent, your science is bad. Â You get wrong answers in your stock estimates and recovery times!
TH: Great. Â How much was an average trip when you make out of Fort Pierce? Â You know, how do you measure an average catch? Â Everybody gets their limit?
LA: We have fish box that holds 750 pounds of fish, rough order. Â You know, somewhere 600 to 700, 750 if you reallywhen the box is full, I know weve had a good day. Â Saturday, the box was three-quarters full.
TH: Thats a good day.
LA: And thats a good day. Â The box is half full: its a pretty good day. Â We always manage to fill the box half way up: sea bass, triggerfish, lane snapper. Â Were having a real good yellowtail bite this year, muttons, and mangroves.
TH: How many people you take and whats the price for
LA: We average, probably, bout twenty people a day, and its $50 a person.
TH: And whats the day?
LA: Eight hours, 8:30 to 4:30. Thats an average over the years. Â With the economy the way its been, were not averaging twenty a day. Â Were probably down to seventeen or sixteen.
TH: All right. Â And you think its the economy rather than the
LA: Id say that the major impact on the business has been twofold. Â One, I think the storms impacted us, then the recess
TH: In aught-four ?
LA: Yeah. Â The recession started here in Florida in November of aught-six . Â I can go back to my books and I can point to exactly when it started. Â Between the recession, the stormsand the adverse publicity on the regulations has hurt businesses all over: all fishing businesses, not just us.
TH: Okay. For how many years did you fish? Â All your life?
LA: All my life.
TH: Okay. Â It comes down to here, repeat this. Â When did you start work and how old were you? Who do you work with? Â You work on your own boatcorporation boat, excuse me. Â I just incorporated my boat this year. Â Where do you go to fish? Â Okay. Â When you leave the inlet, how do you decide where to go?
LA: I make my plans up the night before. Â I have over 10,000 numbers up there, and I just decide.
TH: Based on?
LA: Just gut feeling, where we caught them the day before, where the bites in, the depth, the water, where the baits been. Â And I talk to Glenn; I talk to Dave Bogan up on the Sebastian Lighting [sic] difference.
Captain Bogans boat is the Sebastian Lady.
TH: Any technology on the weather, the water temperatures?
LA: Yep. We have water temperature gauges on the boat. Â I have two color machines.
TH: But Glenn goes on a computer and pulls up the water temperatures.
LA: I recently subscribed to private services. Â And hes doing a lot of, you know, pelagics as opposed to bottom fishing.
TH: Okay, gotcha.
LA: And I do all bottom fishing, and I do have private services where I do get my weather information, and I do have a temperature gauge on the boat.
TH: All right. Â And on the average, how far do you go offshore?
LA: Generally, between fifteen and twenty miles.
TH: Okay. Â Northeast, southeast?
LA: I rarely go southeast.
TH: Mostly northeast.
LA: I mostly go northeast.
LA: Northeast, Ill fish as far as the 525 [LORAN] line.
TH: Thats up South Sebastian, we call that. Â (laughs) We seldom go up there.
LA: Yeah, I go up to Wabasso Rock, and Ill go up to the Pines if I have to.
This refers to an area offshore of a stand of pines that can be seen onshore.
TH: How fast you run?
LA: At $2.80 a gallon [for gas], I dont run that fast. Â I run at eleven and a half knots.
TH: How long does it take you to get to Wabasso Rock?
LA: From the end of the jetty?
LA: About an hour and five minutes.
TH: Hmm. Â Ive never fished there, and I should.
LA: Oh, lots of sea bass.
TH: Oh, good. Â I kingfish sometimes, too.
LA: Oh, tons of kingfish.
TH: How do you decide where youll fish; youve explained that. Â How far offshore, approximately? Â During what months of the year you fish for what fish; we already went through that. Â But down here
LA: Its snapper/grouper all year round.
TH: Snapper/grouper year-round.
LA: Well, bottom fishing year-round. Â Whatever bites on the bottom is what we target.
TH: And a fishing trip lasts eight hours.
LA: Yeah. Â We do extend the day trips, also. We do eleven-hour trips once a month.
TH: Oh, yeah? Â How much are those?
LA: Sixty dollars.
TH: Sixty bucks. Â Do you fill the boatI mean, with passengers, or with?
LA: Every one of them.
TH: (laughs) Okay. Â All right. Â How many years youve been head boat captain; weve already established that.
LA: Ive been licensed since sixty-six .
TH: Sixty-six , okay. Â Now, were getting down to the final stuff on the Oculina Bank and on marine protected areas, and thatswe want your opinion, and were gonna come down to the last thing, on whats your opinion on the best, fairest way to manage the fisheries. Finally, I would like to talk about how your fishing has changed over time in regards to the Oculina Bank. Â Since 1984, several changes have been made in the regulations of the Oculina Bank. Â Id like to know if any of these regulations affected your fishing, and if so, how?
LA: You know, like I said, we really dont fish Oculina. Â Its not something you can do on a head boat, because of the way the current runs out there. And it would be once in a blue moon you might find a day when you could get out there when there was adequate current. Ive never taken the boat there to fish. Â I dont have any intention taking the boat there to fish. Â If they open it up, and I find a day that its good, Id love to try it. Â I really would.
TH: Okay, youre kinda answering the questions ahead of time. Youre out of synch there. Â I gotta get back on track here. Â The Oculina Bank is initially closed to trawling, dredging, and bottom fishing. Â Did this affect your fishing? No.
TH: Nineteen ninety-four , Oculina was designated as an experimental closed area where fishing for and retention of snapper grouper species was prohibited. Â Snapper grouper fishing boats were also prohibited from anchoring. Â Was your fishing impacted by this regulation? Â Well, you didnt come until ninety-six .
LA: Ninety-nine .
TH: Ninety-nine . So, that would not affect your fishing. Â Then in 1996, all anchoring was prohibited within the Oculina Bank. Â Did this impact your fishing? Â No.
LA: Not really.
TH: Now, in 1996, trolling for rock shrimp was prohibited in the area to the east and north of the Oculina Bank. Â In 1998, this area was incorporated in the Oculina Bank HAPC. Â Fishing with the bottom line, long line, trawl and dredge was prohibited in this extended area, as was anchoring by any vessel. Â And this didnt affect you. Â Now, this is whatdesignation, now this isI think about this inyou know, you think about what if they want to make the northeast grounds an HAPC, okay? Â So, here, the designation of marine areas that are closed to fishing is being used more frequently as a fishery management tool. Â What do you think about the use of closed areas to fishing compared to other types of management regulations?
LA: Poor management.
TH: Such as quotas, closed seasons, et cetera? Â Okay, now you can tell them. (laughs)
LA: Now I can tell them, right. Â MPAs [Marine Protected Areas] dont work; they havent worked. Â As an example, Oculina was supposed to help the snapper and grouper populations. Â Ive seen no difference in the snapper grouper catches for the time that weve been here. Â So, if it was gonna work, it wouldve worked in eleven years. In my opinion, the best management is quotas, size, and bag limits, no closed area. When you reach your quota, you stop fishing
TH: How aboutgo ahead.
LA: Or, you can fish for something that the quotas open on.
TH: Okay. Â Now, how about closures, like
LA: I dont likeI think theyre a waste of time.
TH: What would be a better way of managing than the
LA: Bag limits.
TH: Bag limits. Â Lower the bag limits.
LA: Lower the bag limits and raise the size limit.
TH: And has the closed season on snapper grouper affected your business?
LA: Yes. Â Adversely, negatively.
TH: You mentioned bad science. Â What, in your opinion, is guiding the regulations?
LA: People that sit behind computers and look at data and dont listen to the people who out on the water 150 to 200 days per year. Â And they tell them exactly what is going on, but they dont listen. Â Ive testified before the [South Atlantic Fisheries Management] Council in Melbourne or wherever the hell the last big hearing was. Â I gave them all the data that I have. Â My fish reports are available to them. Â Were part of a National Marine Fisheries pilot program on log book reporting. Â You have all the data on every single fish that we catch, and they dont use it. Â I have asked the scientists to give me back all my data, give me histograms or whatever of all the fish Ive caught since weve been here; they cant give it to me. Â So whats the point of giving them the data? Â They dont use it. Â They dont listen.
TH: So what do you think they do listen to, and what do you think
LA: The Pew Foundation, funded by the Sun Oil Company [Sunoco], who has ulterior motives as to why they want to close these areas. Â I think its spelled o-i-l.
TH: (laughs) Excellent. And, finally, is there anything else you want us to say about regulations? Â This is the time.
LA: Right. Â What I want to say about the regulations, Terry, is that, one, the members of the council and their staff need to listen to the fishermen. Â They need to take into account what the fishermen tell them. Â Its not anecdotal data; its real data.
TH: Thats what were putting together, here.
LA: Real, live information, not something thats generated from a piece of paper or a report that someone has the ability to distort. Â Theres a very famous man named Bernard Baruch. Â He had a very famous saying when it came to numbers: Allow me to distort the data at my leisure.
Interviewee misquoted. Â It was Mark Twain: "First get your facts; then you may distort them at your leisure."
You people at the counciland your staffare experts at distorting the data at your leisure. Youre killing businesses, youre putting people and families out of work, and youre hurting the economy in the state of Florida with your regulations. Â Subsidize us like you do the farmers, and Ill be glad not to fish.
LA: I wont fish if you give me as much money as you give a tobacco farmer not to grow tobacco, or corn or soybeans.
TH: Thinking ahead to the future, what do you think fishing in Fort Pierce will be like in ten years?
LA: There wont be any if the regulations go the way they are.
TH: Okay. Â Anything else you want to share?
LA: No. Â I cant, on the public record, tell you what I really think.
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