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James Gallagher oral history interview
h [electronic resource] /
interviewed by Terry Howard.
Tampa, Fla. :
University of South Florida Tampa Library,
1 sound file (32 min.) :
digital, MPEG4 file +
e 1 transcript (24 p.)
Oculina Bank oral history project
Interview conducted September 1, 2010.
Oral history interview with charter boat captain James Gallagher. Gallagher moved to Fort Pierce in 1989 and has been running charter or party boats since his arrival. He is somewhat familiar with the Oculina Bank but never fished there much since it is too deep for his method of fishing. Gallagher does not think much of closed areas to fishing, including the Oculina Bank protected area, because he does not believe they improve the fish stock. Enforcement of closed areas is also a problem. He favors bag limits or quotas, which curtail the human desire to take as many fish as possible, but his preferred fishery management tool is restriction to hook and line fishing, as this method gives the fish the choice to bite or not to bite. In this interview, Gallagher also discusses his fishing history and the way his charter business works.
Charter boat fishing
Charter boat captains
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: Good afternoon, this is Terry Howard. Today is September 1, 2010. Â Im at the Fort Pierce City Marina on the vessel the Captain Lew, conducting an oral history with James Gallagher for the Gulf and South Atlantic Fisheries Foundations project with the Fort Pierce fishermen on the Oculina Bank HAPC [Habitat Area of Particular Concern]. Â Welcome, Jim. Â Please state your name, spell your name, your place of birth, and your date of birth.
James Gallagher: James Gallagher, J-a-m-e-s G-a-l-l-a-g-h-e-r. Â Place of birth, Neptune, New Jersey. Â Date of birth is 3-27-1968 [March 27, 1968].
JG: Twenty-seven. Nineteen sixty-eight.
TH: Okay, then did you move to Fort Pierce?
JG: Nineteen eighty-nine.
TH: What brought you to Fort Pierce?
JG: There was a party boat out in New Jersey that came down here to fish, and I came down to work on it, and I stayed.
TH: Now, what year was that?
JG: Nineteen eighty-nine.
TH: Nineteen eighty-nine.
JG: Winter of 1989.
TH: What party boat was that?
JG: It was called the Capt. Kern.
TH: That was here?
JG: In Fort Pierce, yeah.
TH: The City Marina?
JG: No. Â It was over in Turning Basin.
TH: All right. Â Are you married?
TH: Okay. Â How old were you when you got married?
JG: (laughs) Thats 1996.
TH: Ninety-six , aught-six it would be fourteen years? Â Thirteen years.
JG: Actually, Im forty-two. Â Shes now as old as I was when I got married. Â So, 1998 would make me thirty, so I was twenty-eight.
TH: Twenty-eight, okay. Â Do you have children?
TH: How much schooling do you have?
JG: Some college.
TH: Okay. Â Where?
JG: New Jersey, Jacksonville Univactually in Florida here, Jacksonville University, and Brookdale Community College.
TH: Do you have another job besides charter boat?
JG: Yes. Â I work for the City of Vero Beach.
TH: Oh, okay. Â What do you do for the City of Vero Beach?
JG: I work in the environmental control laboratory for the Water and Sewer Department. Â We test the water, drinking water and wastewater.
TH: Interesting. Â Do you currently own a boat?
TH: Id like to ask questions about the Oculina Bank. Â How familiar are you with the Oculina Bank?
JG: Semi-familiar. Â I never fished it a lot.
JG: Its too deep for what we do.
TH: Why was the Oculina Bank designated as an area to protect?
JG: For the coral.
TH: Can you
JG: Oh, for the staghorn coral, the Oculina coral. Â I guesswell, they say because its a nursery for grouper and snapper.
TH: Is there anything else you can tell me about the Bank? Â What do you know about the coral, or the peaks, or anything like that?
JG: Well, like I said, I have not fished there much. Â I just know its protected because of the coral and the fish. Â Other than that
TH: Okay, what do you think about the closure to the Oculina Bank to anchoring and bottom fishing?
JG: Well, I think thats a ruse for the public, because anchoringits too deep to anchor, and anybody that fishes out here knows that when youre out that deep, youre not doing a lot of anchor fishing for bottom fish; youre pretty much power drifting and drift fishing. Â So anchoring doesnt bother it, and the occasional sinker getting stuck on the bottom doesnt do anything for the coral, or to the bottom, to the habitat.
TH: Has the closure of the Oculina Bank affected your fishing?
JG: No, not so much, because like I said, its too deep for what we do, day-tripping and stuff like that, carrying semi-tourists and stuff like that.
TH: If anchoring and bottom fishing in the Oculina Bank was not prohibitedin other words, if you could fish therewould you fish there?
JG: Im gonna say, not every day, but on a day where theres not a lot of tide, cause you know, theres a lot of tide the deeper you get out here, there would probably be a possibility.
TH: How and for what?
JG: How would we fish?
TH: How and for what?
JG: Possibly anchoring, if the tide was not bad, but for grouper and snapper.
TH: Okay, and you power fish with this boat?
JG: We can. Â We dont do it regularly, because with the way this boats set up you cant see the back of the boat, and thats what you really kind of want to see. Â Its difficult, but Ive done it. Â Its difficult for me.
TH: Overall, how has fishing changed since you began fishing in Fort Pierce?
JG: Oh, God. Â Fishing is cycles. Â Fish run in cyclesfish stocks run in cycles. Â Everybody knows that. Â Ive seen the highs and the lows. Â Right now, were kind of in a low period, thanks to the government and the cold water that we get in the summertime. Â I remember back in the early nineties [1990s], we used to catch so much yellowtail wed have to move off thewed have to move, because they would just surround the boat and you couldnt get another bait past them. Â Youd have to move because of the yellowtail, and now you never see them. So, and the muttons, the muttons come and go. Â We used to catch them years ago. Â Wed catch them up to twenty-four pounds offshore here. Â Now, you rarely see one thats over, I guess, twenty inches.
TH: Mutton snapper.
JG: Right. Â And mangrove snappers seem to have disappeared almost completely. Â I mean, you get them occasionally, but theyre very thin.
TH: So, you think fishing goes in cycles, and were kind of in a low cycle right now?
JG: I think so, yeah. Â I think; and also, I believe theres a closed area down off of St. Lucie for sea bass. Â Im not sure, but our bottom is just covered with sea bass. Â I mean, that affects our fishing, too, cause you cant get a bait past, you know, without the sea bass tearing it up. Â So whatever is going on with the sea bass, its working, cause theyre everywhere. (laughs)
TH: Have you had any experience with law enforcement within or regarding the Oculina Bank?
TH: Okay. Â Now, I want to talk about your fishing, your personal fishing history, specifically. Â Whats your earliest memory of fishing, and how old were you?
JG: I guess about eight, fishing with the old man in a rented rowboat.
TH: Your father?
TH: Okay, in a rented rowboat?
JG: Up in New Jersey in the Navesink River.
TH: Freshwater fishing?
JG: No, its saltwater.
JG: Its a tributary to the Sandy Hook Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.
TH: How did you fish and what did you fish for?
JG: We were fishing for fluke, flounder, and blue crabs.
TH: Using blue crabs?
JG: No, no, and blue crabs. Â We went crabbing. Â That was my earliest memories.
TH: About eight years old?
TH: How did you learn how to fish? Â Who taught you?
JG: He taught me what he knew, and then we had a friend who was really into fishing and had his own boat. Â He taught us to the point where my father ended up getting his own boat.
TH: What kind of boat?
JG: It was a twenty-foot aluminum boat, and we did all kind of fishing, from tuna fishing to blue fishing, striper fishing, fluke fishing.
TH: Did you fish, like, close to shore, or offshore, or just in the bay, or everywhere?
JG: Everywhere: offshore, inshore.
TH: How far offshore did you go with it?
JG: Maximum would probably be about twenty-five miles.
TH: Thats pretty far. Â How did you decide to become a charter boat captain?
JG: Just something Ive always wanted to do. Â I mean, its in my blood; its what Im good at.
TH: Did you grow up near, like was your home near the water?
JG: Oh, yeah. Â Not right on the water. Â We were aboutprobably about four miles as the crow flies; but yeah, we were close to the shore.
TH: So, you just always had
JG: Right, the marinathe boat basin was close by and the party boats were always there: a natural progression.
TH: Did you mate for a while?
JG: Sure. Â I worked my way up from scrubbing buckets to driving.
TH: When did you start fishing in the Fort Pierce area? Â Again, age and year; we got 1989, youre about
TH: Okay, and were you fishing commercially, recreationally, or working on charter boat sector?
JG: It was a party boat.
TH: So you went right to party boats.
JG: Yeah. Â I was down here personal fishing for recreational as well. Â See, party boats gotta be considered recreational.
TH: But, youre a charter captain.
JG: Yeah. Â Thats ayoure splitting hairs when you say charter boat captain, party boat captain, because its the same business but a little bit different.
TH: I understand. Â So what did you fish for, mostly, when you first came in?
JG: Snapper and grouper.
TH: How do you fish for these, gear and bait?
JG: With lead sinkers and leader and a hook, and catch grunts and sometimes cigar minnows, beeliners, whatever, pinfish. Â Usually the majority of the baitguys use the cut up grunts.
TH: Now, do you stop on the way out to catch live bait?
JG: In the summertime, when the oceans lit and you can see the bait pods, yeah. Â If I have the right crowd to do it, Ill stop and well catch cigar minnows or greenies, whatever. Â But 99 percent of the time we just catch bait out on the reef.
TH: When you get out there?
JG: Yeah. Â When we take her up on the first drop, I mean, you know, thats how we get our bait. Â Most of the guys will spend five, ten, fifteen minutes catching bait.
TH: Okay. Â Do you take frozen bait? Â You have frozen bait?
JG: We supply squid on the boat; frozen squid, actually, and the mates cut it up. Â Some guys bring their own frozen cigar minnows or sardines or whatever.
TH: How big a weights do you use?
JG: Depends on the fisherman. Â The beginners, we tend to give them a little heavier lines. Â They dont know how to control it so well. Â Ill fish a four or five ounce, personally. Â Theres some guys, current permitting, you know, weather permitting
TH: It varies on the current?
JG: It varies with the current. Â The current dictates pretty much what youre gonna do that day.
TH: Who did you fish with, and who owned the boat when you first started fishing down in Fort Pierce?
JG: The boats name was the Capt. Kern. Â They were only here for one season. Â C-a-p-t K-e-r-n, and I believe theyre out of business now. Â They were from Belmar, New Jersey.
TH: Okay. Â Belmar?
TH: Okay, and after that?
JG: What did I do after that? Â Right, then the fishing boat called the Fish Connection. Â That was a thirty-foot, twelve passenger boat that they built here in Fort Pierce. Â It was an island hopper.
TH: Okay, and you bottom fished mostly?
JG: Yeah. Â That was it. Â The ownerthe guy who built the boatthat was his dream, to build the boat and take other people fishing. Â Pretty much I was being paid to take him fishing, but he didnt have a license to run the boat and I did. Â I knew him from the Capt. Kern, and we just got involved, and I ran that boat. Â It was that (inaudible) right here off the Tiki Bar, actually, one of the first ones when the Tiki Bar, or when this marina was still privately owned.
TH: Okay. Â Thats here at the City Marina.
TH: Okay, and then after that?
JG: A boat called the Fish Stalker.
TH: Fish Stalker? Â Okay.
JG: That was here at the City Marina, and that was a sixty-five foot party boat. Â That was here for five years.
TH: All right, and then?
Unidentified Woman: Two boats. Â Sebastian.
JG: Oh, thats right! Â I ran them in Sebastian for a year.
Unidentified Woman: Captain Kidd.
JG: Yeah, and in Sebastian we had Captain Kidd, when we were up in Sebastian.
JG: Kidd, K-i-d-d. Â And then this boat.
TH: And then after that, the Captain Lew?
TH: Who did you fish with? Â Did you have any partners that you fished with along the way, or did you mostlydid they let you captain the boats?
JG: Right. Â Yeah, I was pretty much for hire.
TH: Okay. Â You were not related to any of these people?
TH: Where did you go to fish when you began fishing here?
JG: Began fishing here?
JG: Northeast grounds.
TH: Northeast grounds.
JG: Right. Â Bethel Shoal. Â Didnt quite get out to Oculina Bank too much. Â Just the twenty-seven fathom drops, and thats about it.
TH: Did you go south to any of the wrecks?
JG: No, didnt go to the wrecks, cause by the time the (inaudible) boats that got there, they were covered up, so it really is not beneficially to take a party for us to get there. Â By the time we get there, its ten oclock in the morning and theyre already covered up. Â We dont go south too much.
TH: Mostly go north to northeast grounds?
TH: Lots of rocks out there?
JG: Right, and thats the beneficial part is that youre not traveling a long distance between drops, because, you know, the rocks are pretty close together. Â The reefs run like a tree branch offshore there, and dictating on what the current dictates whats going on and where youre gonna fish; try to get out of the tide.
TH: Now, during what months of the year do you fish for what fish? Â Like, lets start with grouper.
JG: Year round.
TH: Okay. Â Snapper?
JG: Year round.
TH: Sea bass? Â (laughs)
JG: We fish for everythingwe fish year round, some times of the yearwe fish year round for snapper and grouper. Â Thats mainly what were chasing; but if we should catch a kingfish or a dolphin or a cobia, thats good, too.
TH: Okay, but you dont really target those.
JG: No. Â Were not gonna go, Were gonna go sea bass fishing today, and then justalthough you can do that today. Â You cant run a grouper special here, because its just not going to happen.
TH: So, really, whatever shows up.
JG: Pretty much, pretty much.
TH: How long does a fishing trip last?
JG: Our all-day trips go from 8:30 to 4:30, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.
TH: And you have partial days, three-quarter days?
JG: Were going to start half-days here in November.
TH: Okay, and half days go?
JG: Theyre going to be from eight to twelve, and from one to five.
TH: How much was an average trip catch? Â I mean, like, how many head in a count? Â I know its a tough question. Â An average.
JG: Well, Im going toIll give you a good day, what I consider a good day. Â A good day is twenty head of snapper. Â Thats a day Im not gonna complain about. Â Can it be better, yeah, but if I have, say twenty, twenty-five people and I have twenty head of snapper, being a mixture of mangroves and muttons and, at the time, genuines, to me thats a good day. Â Im not gonna complain about that. Â Now, thats the middle of the road. Â You have super days with over forty head of snapper, and weve had
Unidentified Woman: When?
JG: Back in the Fish Stalker days.
Unidentified Woman: Well, that was a long time ago.
JG: Well, heIm trying to establish an average.
Unidentified Woman: Oh, okay.
JG: So, that goes down to zero. Â Like now in the summertime, I mean, were really pickin. Â Its just pretty much the sea bass and the triggerfish because of the cold water.
TH: Now, are you catching a lot of triggerfish?
JG: Yeah. Â Best eating fish out there.
TH: Okay, so how many years do you fish for grouper?
JG: Nineteen eighty-nine, 2009, so thats twenty, twenty-one years?
TH: Actually, I guess you can say twenty-one years for everything, snapper
JG: Ever since Ive been in Florida, yes, twenty-one years.
TH: Okay. Â Why did you stop fishing for grouper recently?
JG: We stopped fishing for grouper between January and April because the government does not let us keep them. Â Well probably never ever catch anotherbe able to keep another red snapper. Â So, thats why we stopped fishing.
TH: So, what do you do next? Â The answer there would be?
JG: What to do next after I stop fishing?
TH: For grouper, then you fish mainly for sea bass?
JG: We dont change our operation, because the grouper and snapper live in the same areas. Â Pretty much what we do differently is you lighten up your tackle. Â Should you hook a grouper during those times and he breaks you off, you couldnt keep him anyway.
Unidentified Woman: Theres a lot more caves in Sebastian.
JG: Yeah. Â This is Sebastian; off the bottom of Sebastian is different than it is here.
TH: When did you start working as a charter boat captain in the Fort Pierce area? Â We already asked that. Â Who you fished for, who do you work with? Â Its a lot of repetitiveness, here. Â Ill get down here. Â On average, how offshore do you go?
JG: About twelve miles.
TH: Twelve miles, okay. Â How do you decide where to go on the mornings when you head out?
JG: Based on what they mightve done the day before, what they did or did not do the day before. Â Pretty muchwhen I was doing it every day, I could findit was a pattern. Â When I do it now, once, twice a week, its a little harder. Â I got to depend on what the other guys are doing. Â Like, somebody went here yesterday and Im not going to go there and they didnt do anything, Im not going to go there today. Â The big indicatora big factor where we go is the tide, the current.
TH: Can you elaborate a little?
JG: With a hard north tide, we got to stay inshore a little bit, a little shallower. Â If the tide is not as hard, we can get out deeper.
TH: Okay. Â We already talked about how long is a fish[ing trip], average catch; we just discussed that. Â How many years have you been charter captain?
JG: Its the same, twenty-one years.
TH: Twenty-one years, okay. Â Finally, Id 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? Â The Oculina Bank was initially closed to trawling, dredging, and bottom longlining in 1984. Â Did this affect your fishing, and if so, how?
JG: I wasnt here then.
TH: So, the answer would be no.
JG: No. (laughs)
TH: In 1994, ten years later, the Oculina Bank was designated an experimental closed area for fishing for and retention of snapper [and] grouper species was prohibited. Â Snapper [and] grouper fishing boats were also prohibited from anchoring. Â Was your fishing impacted by this regulation?
JG: Well, we cant fish there. Â If you cant anchor and if you cant fish there at all, then thats really another place you cant go, you cant ever get to. Â Thats how it affects the fishermen. Â Me specifically?
TH: It hasnt improved anything.
JG: Yeah, Im gonna say. Â (laughs) Â Yeah, it has not improved anything, as far as Im concerned, because I dont think the closing of the fishing area has anything to do with the fish. Â The fish run in cycles, you know. Â Closing the area for fishing, I dont think it helps anything.
JG: Hook and line fishing. Â Hook and line fishing does nothing to decimate the fish stock.
TH: Then, in 1996, all anchoring was prohibited within the Oculina Bank. Â Did this impact your fishing, and if so, how?
JG: Not really. Â The same way.
TH: Being impacted was when you were shut off from catching snapper and grouper in that area.
JG: Sure. Â I mean, yeah. Â I mean, I said we didnt fish there often, but you know, the impact would be that we couldnt. Â We could not go there if we wanted to.
TH: It was like another resource for you?
JG: Sure. Â Itd be another area to fish that we couldnt get to and could not go to.
TH: Okay. Â Nineteen ninety-six , trawling for rock shrimp was prohibited in the area east and north, as I showed you on the map, of the designated Oculina Bank. Â In 1998, this area was incorporated into the Oculina Bank HAPC. Â Fishing with a bottom longline, trawl, or dredge was prohibited in this expanded area, as was anchoring by any vessel. Â Was your fishing impacted by this regulation?
JG: Not really. Â What really impacted was Dixie Crossroads up in Titusville. Â Rock shrimp became very expensive. Â I dont know if youve ever been there, but
TH: Because they couldnt catch rock shrimp?
JG: Well, you couldnt go there to catch the rock shrimp.
TH: Where was that place, again?
JG: Titusville. Â Dixie Crossroads.
TH: Thats a place? Â A restaurant?
JG: Yeah. Â Rock shrimp; they used to be delicious and cheap.
TH: The designationand this is the essence. Â The designation of marine areas that are closed to fishing has been used more frequently as a fishery management tool. Â What do you think of the use of closed areas to fishing compared to other types of management regulations, such as quotas, closed seasons, trip limits, et cetera?
JG: I think that closed areas are ridiculous for hook and line, because hook and line fishing, like I said before, doesnt do anything to a fish stock. Â Because if youre just hook and line fishing, as compared to the net or spearfishing, or any other type, the fish is not going to eat; hes not going to bite that hook, you know? Â It just doesnt do anything to the fish stock.
TH: You mean, if theyre not biting, theyre conserv
JG: Theyre conserving on their own. Â You know, fish dont bite every day. Â You know that from being a fisherman.
JG: Bag limits, yes, because I think that actually what youre doing there is curtailing human nature. Â Oh, theyre biting today, Im gonna fill the boat with them. Â You know, leave some for tomorrow, but I like to keep what I catch as well. Â You know what I mean. Â Quotas are for the people, theyre notI mean, they do protect the fish from being wasted, because Ive seen tons of fish wasted that shouldnt.
TH: Slot limits?
JG: I like slot limits. Â I think thats what should have been done with the red snapper, because you just completely shut off the fishery out there. Â And I could take this boat right now, and anchor it up in ninety feet of water, and we could be knee-deep in red snapper in a couple of hours. Â I mean, they are thick. Â And everybody knows that red snappers grow up to thirty pounds. Â So, I cant keep any. Â But if I can keep one between sixteen and twenty-four inches, thats perfect for my customers, and let the little ones go, let them mature, and let the big egg-layers go. Â Take a picture and throw it back.
JG: Not to mention that these fishthey dont survive the trip up. Â Let them go. Â Thats a whole other thing.
TH: Thats the problem with the slot limits.
JG: Thats the problem with any kind of catch and release fishing out of deep water. Â Slot limit coming out of the river is great.
TH: Bottom fishing in deep water.
JG: Right. Â You reel that fish up in less than a minute out of 90, 110 foot of water and some deeper, 240 foot of water, that fishs brain explodes. Â You can send him back down and somethings gonna eat him, if he even makes the trip back down.
TH: So hed be bait if he goes down?
JG: Yeah. Â Hes going to vibrate and someones gonna get him.
TH: So which do you prefer? Â What do you think is the best way, fairest, most equitable to both fishermen and fish, to manage the fisheries?
JG: Hook and line only. Â No longlines, even though thats a hook and line fishery, but thats thirty miles of hook. Â No nets, no spearfishing, no powerheading. Â We got to protect the wildlife. Â Oh, and that, too. Â Enforcement. Â We have no enforcement. Â I mean, okay, its all about the Oculina Bank. Â I could go out there now and we could anchor, we could fish, we could bottom fish or whatever, and come back in, and nobodys ever gonna say boo to us. Â Thats the truth. Â You could close the entire ocean, but if nobodys watching it, what difference does it make?
TH: So enforcement is a problem?
JG: Yeah. Â Well, now it is. Â I mean, now its a joke. Â I mean, I dont want to be enforced, but I really dont like people telling me where I can or cannot fish, you know.
TH: As a charter captain, youre probably very careful. Â Are you careful?
JG: Of course. Â We have to be on here, because were a public boat and we follow the letter of the law. Â You know, they come on the boat here, they study what were catching, they measure every type of fish that we catch, they count em. Â I mean, Joe Blow on his boat herenobodys watching him.
TH: A private fishing boat.
JG: Exactly. Â Nobodys watching him. Â Hes out there being a pirate coming in with a cooler full of red snapper. Â Theres nobody around. Â Whos gonna stop him? Â Somebody in the riverand half the time these guys in the river, whether its the Coast Guard or the FWC [Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission], they dont know what theyre looking at anyway.
TH: Okay. Â Anything else you want to add to that at all?
JG: I dont agree with closed areas. Â I dont believe that any part of the ocean should be closed to any kind of hook and line fishing. Â That does nothing to the fish stock. Â And because the scientists say so, that doesnt hold any water with me. Â I mean, scientists are wrong all the time, you know. Â If they were tagging fish, and marking, Okay, this fish and he spent his life on the life on the reef, or whateverI mean, I just dont believe what the scientists say half the time.
JG: I think were ingrained in this country to believe Oh, the scientists must be right.
TH: Well, thinking ahead to the future, what do you think fishing in Fort Pierce will be like in ten years?
JG: Well, Ive always said since Ive been fishing here that Ive watched the ups and downs of fishing, and someday well be running half-day trips for grunts, so I dont know if that day is coming at all. Â Our bottom fishing is kind of in a down slope right now.
TH: But you just said you could catch all the snapper you wanted.
JG: Yes, red snapper. Â If we were allowed to keep red snapper, it would be great. Â They can stand the cool water that we have right now. Â You know, were catching keepers. Â I had one up here fifteen pounds last week. Â If we can go catch them, that would be a big boom for our businessif we could keep them. Â The boats north of us in Sebastian, the Cape Canaveral, theyre killing those guys up there with that red snapper closure. Â Killing them, because the past couple years theres been no mangroves or muttons north of Fort Pierce. Â All the boats off of Sebastian have been red snappers and grouper, and mostly sea bass. Â Now, they cant catch red snappers, so I dont know what those guys are gonna do up there. Â And then, when you close the beeliners from November to March
JG: Vermillion snapper. Â The boats up north of Sebastian, north of the Cape, out of Daytona and Jacksonville, thats their bread and butter. Â They cant catch them four months out of the year?
TH: Youre saying the fishing closures
JG: Fish closures andthats not the wayits not gonna work with ocean fish. Â It may work with redfish, or may work with snook, tributary fish. Â But pelagic species, I dont see how.
TH: The ocean fish.
JG: Right. Â The bottom fish.
TH: Okay. Â Go back to my question: in ten years, what do you think fishing will be like in Fort Pierce? Â Youve been here since 1989well, twenty years.
JG: Id like to think itll be better, but I knowits hard to say, cause fish are in cycles. Â I dont think itllone of my fears is that the government has their foot in the door with the red snapper, and whats next? Â So, its hard to say what its going be like in ten years. Â Id like to say itd be better, but will it be better due to the closure of the Oculina Bank? Â No way.
JG: That was donethe closure of the Oculina Bank was done to save the coral out there. Â Some environmentalHarbor Branch or whatever got involved to save the deepwater coral.
Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution at Florida Atlantic University conducted scientific research referenced in the Oculina Bank closure. Â It is a non-profit oceanographic institution dedicated to marine and ocean research and education operated by Florida Atlantic University.
JG: From being broken, and fromour sinkers are tearing up the bottom and anchoring. Â I mean, I dont know anybody who was anchoring up out there.
TH: I think it was originally closed to draggers.
JG: Originally, but then it went
JG: Well, look at the difference. Â Im gonna bounce a ten-pound weight off the bottom, or an eighty-foot dragger is gonna drag his gear, and you know what? Â The draggers arent dragging over Oculina Bank, because they know where it is, and theyre gonna snag their nets on it. Â Nobodys draggin over Oculina Bank. Â Those draggers and those trawlers, they know where every snag is, because you know what? They snag their gear on the rocks, theyre gonna lose everything. Â So, they know where not to go. Â So, thats a ruse to the public, too. Â That doesnt make any sense. Â I wish I wasin 1984 I was very young. Â I was still in high school.
TH: Okay. Â Anything else youd like to add?
JG: No. Â I think I covered what was on my mind.
TH: Okay. Â Thank you very much, Jim, Captain Jim, for sharing your fishing history with us. Â With that, well wrap this up.
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