Daily Drakeheart-barracuda

heart-barracudaBarracuda prowling the warm-water reaches of the Lower Keys are currently being targeted and killed by the hundreds for commercial sale at a price of $1 to $1.40 per pound. Is it really worth it?

Capt. Doug Kilpatrick is reporting that guides, as well as anglers, have witnessed a drastic decline of barracuda that winter in the shallows. “We are concerned that the over harvesting of such a great gamefish will eventually lead to the demise of the barracuda. The barracuda is currently listed as an ‘unregulated’ species by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission, which means there are no commercial harvesting limits in place. The barracuda plays an important part in our ecosystem and our economy, as it is enjoyed for catch-and-release by the recreational fishing industry. It is our opinion that barracuda should be granted gamefish status.”

Please contact the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commissioners and ask for the gamefish designation for barracuda. The following link will bring you to a page where you can submit comments: myfwc.com.

Feel free to copy and paste this form letter, below, or contact Kilpatrick for more info at: tarpondoug@aol.com

Dear Commissioners,

I write to you regarding an on-going disturbing situation in the Lower Florida Keys. A well-known fish, the barracuda, is now being killed (speared) by the hundreds per day in both State and Federal waters. They are subsequently being sold for a mere $1 to $1.40 per pound.

I have always thought of the barracuda as a game fish, and as an important fish to our ecosystem. Currently, there are no commercial limits or regulations in place for the barracuda. Is there anything that can be done to put a stop to this? What would it take to get the barracuda considered in the “gamefish status”, or prohibit commercial sale?

I speak as a flats fishing charter captain and member of the Lower Keys Guides Association; we often depend on the barracuda as a reliable option for the recreational angler to fish. Every year, during the winter months, barracudas move to shallow water flats in search of warm water and baitfish. Over the past five years, we have witnessed a drastic decline in the numbers, and we are concerned for the future of the barracuda. I hope that we can achieve gamefish status, or at least stop the commercial sale of the barracuda before it is too late.

Is the barracuda really only worth $1.40 per pound at best? I think that recreational anglers, charter captains, and the ecosystem would argue not.

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Tom Bie is the founder, editor, and publisher of The Drake. He started the magazine in 1998 as an annual newsprint publication based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. He then moved it to Steamboat, Colorado (1999), Boulder, Colorado (2001), and San Clemente, California (2004), as he took jobs as managing editor at Paddler, Senior Editor at Skiing, and Editor-in-Chief at Powder, respectively. Tom and The Drake are now both based in Denver, Colorado, where The Drake is finally all grows up(Swingers, 1996) to a quarterly magazine.

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