FWC News Release
February 19, 2008
Contact: Marty Hale, 352-732-1225
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) receives calls throughout the winter and spring from concerned residents that net-tossing fishermen are removing quantities of fish from Central and Northeast Florida lakes and canals using large, circular nets.
The nets are called cast nets, and the netters using them generally are commercial fishermen who are licensed by the FWC. These commercial fishermen pay a fee and make their living catching shiners for bait, or catfish or blue tilapia (Nile perch) for human consumption.
In the case of tilapia, the fishermen are helping to remove a species of fish that doesn’t belong in Florida’s waters.
Lately, concerned residents also have been reporting people using gill nets in lakes Griffin and Apopka. For several years, the FWC has authorized the St. Johns River Water Management District to permit commercial fishermen with gill nets to remove gizzard shad from these two lakes as part of that agency’s lake-restoration efforts.
Gill nets, as the name implies, typically catch fish by snagging them around the gills. Gill-netters participating in the program are permitted to keep only gizzard shad, gar and tilapia and are required to immediately remove and release any other fish caught in these indiscriminate nets.
The FWC can confirm if fishermen using nets are properly permitted and complying with regulations. When you see fishermen removing fish and have concerns about legalities, please write down a description of the boat and its occupants, the boat registration number, and the time of day and location, and call the FWC Wildlife Alert Hotline at 1-888-404-3922.