Dear Governor Scott:
I am appealing to you with the deepest sincerity to restore your nomination of Bob Gill as the commercial representative on the Gulf Council.
97.3% of Americans do not own boats and live in coastal areas. It is impractical for the vast majority of citizens to catch their own fish. Their only access to Federal fisheries is through the commercial industry, which currently catches only about half of the reef fish controlled by the Gulf Council. The rest are caught by the recreational sector. Even though 97.3% of Americans rely on the commercial industry, far less than half of the current Gulf Council are commercial fishermen. Two out of three of Florida’s current Gulf Council members are recreational fishermen. The quality of representation on the council is critical to the commercial industry and 97.3% of Americans.
Of Florida’s $188,000,000 in commercial landings in 2010, the west coast accounted for $137,500,000, or 73%. Bob Gill is from Crystal River, dead center of the fishery. He is the only nominee that is in the commercial industry on a full time basis.
In your letter you mentioned those that weighed on your choice. Among those are recreational fishing interests, groups that fish primarily in state waters not regulated by the Gulf Council, and several groups that are primarily in Atlantic fisheries. A Florida Current article indicated that Steve Southerland, the recreational fishing congressman from Panama City recommended your new choices. All of these people are celebrating this dangerous blow to the largest commercial industry in the Gulf of Mexico and the vast majority of taxpayers.
Your amended nominee lives in Homestead and runs an oil company. Few in this region even know him, except that we understand that he is “anti Catch Share”. That’s a problem because a large portion of the fishery is a catch share, chosen by more than 80% of the industry. So, as it stands, Congressman Southerland and others outside our industry chose a recreational fisherman oil executive with no stake in our fishery who opposes the most successful fisheries in the Southeast…..to represent us.
Not only is this intervention by a politician in our fishery unprecedented, it is an extremely serious problem. It gets worse when we consider that we face the Gulf oil spill remediation while the fishery rebuilding programs are at their most critical stage. This puts our businesses and the incredibly critical fishery rebuilding programs at risk. Those programs are already paying dividends as we watch our fishery get healthier and allowable catches for both commercial and recreational sectors increase each year.
Finally, it jeopardizes the ever shrinking share of fresh domestic seafood that 97.3% of our nations taxpayers deserve. Recreational saltwater fishermen, 2.7% of the taxpayers, already get half of the reef fish and have numerous other species set aside for them as game fish. Stacking the deck even more against the public is not OK with me.
Governor Scott, your original nomination of Bob Gill was great for Florida. The fishing industry cheered and were grateful when you said:
“I am recommending Mr. Robert P. Gill as the preferred choice for the obligatory seat on the council. In addition, I believe it is important that Mr. Gill continue as chairman of the council, a position which has not been held by a representative from Florida for many years. Mr. Gill has been involved in the fishing industry since 1986 and is the owner of Shrimp Landing in Crystal River, Florida. He has an extensive educational background, which includes a bachelors degree from the United States Naval Academy and a master’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Mr. Gill served honorably in the United States Navy from 1966 to 1976, retiring as an Engineering Officer. He is a longtime member of the Southeastern Fisheries Association and director of Organized Fishermen of Florida. His reputation in both the commercial and recreational fishing communities as being impartial and open minded would make him an ideal candidate to represent Florida on the Council.”
Today, the commercial fishermen are incredibly concerned about this endangerment of their businesses, and the 97.3% of Americans that rely on us do not yet know that this has happened.
In the most sincere and respectful terms, please restore Bob Gill as your nominee to represent our industry.
Demar Fishing, Inc
1335 Bayview Dr
Clearwater, FL, 33756
Congressman CW Bill Young
Congressman Richard B. Nugent
Congressman Gus Bilirakis
Senator Marco Rubio
Senator Bill Nelson
Samuel D. Rauch III