MORE ON FWC DUE-PROCESS ISSUE
This is the fourth letter to the editor from my associate, David Grix, and me, Ronald F. Crum. Countless court battles with the FWC for everyone’s due process has taken up the last 30 years of our lives. Here is where we started...
June 17, 1993 the Attorney General of Florida received his requested advisory opinion, case number 81-394, from the Supreme Court of Florida about the “Limited Marine Net Fishing” amendment. The amendment’s ballot title accurately portrayed the limit, not ban, sought on the use of nets for catching saltwater; finfish, shellfish, or other marine animals.
In 1993, recognizing the amendment would pass, I had three 500 square foot (sf) nets made for real life testing. Two for the fisherman and one for the Marine Fisheries Commission. The Marine Fisheries Commission (MFC) was not interested and refused the net. We (fisherman) began testing two of the newly required 500sf nets for commercial viability. The test nets proved to be commercially viable. So there would be life after the limitation……
On Nov. 8, 1994, Florida voters overwhelmingly approved the Limiting Marine Net Fishing Amendment. I began to search for a circuit court to seek a Declaratory Judgment to see whether or not the nets complied with the amendment.
While researching the courts, I determined the Wakulla Circuit Court was not Net Limitation friendly and that Franklin County appeared to be friendly to the rule of law. My decision was to go to Franklin County Court and to get a seafood dealer and shrimp boat captain to join the case. Franklin County ruled the shrimp net was in keeping with the net limitation.
The case was then declared an issue of “critical concern,” bypassing the appeals court and was sent straight to the Florida Supreme Court. On Jan 18, 1996, in Case No. SC 85.880, the high court placed in stone certain aspects of the Net Limitation.
“We hold that both the evidence of the amount of raw stock used to construct the Golden-Crum net and the evidence of commercial viability are relevant and were properly considered by the court.” The nets were upheld as constitutional, thus complying with the amendment.
This was the fishing community’s last experience with due process of law. From that date in 1996 through today, due process has ceased to exist for the fishing community.
The MFC began to have an ability we never experienced before, that is the to “seal” well written orders by Judges like Sauls and McClure, claiming “Primary Jurisdiction.” This was the initial stages of their “political imperious authority” and their efforts to implement a “net ban.” The upper courts no longer made the MFC adhere to the policy and standards found in Florida Statute 370.025. Though NOT what the citizens of Florida voted for, the courts would uphold anything the MFC proposed that implemented a “net ban!” Remember, the public voted for a “limitation,” NOT a “ban.”
In 1996, a Florida Division of Administration hearing case No. 96-5868RP, findings of fact (2) “ The unrefuted evidence is that the proposed rule amendment will reduce the catchability rate of a single such seine net for many types of fish and not be commercially feasible for mullet, except possibly in “roe season,” and that a seine net as currently permitted with large mesh in the wings only is commercially feasible for mullet as well as other fish. Petitioners are correct that between the implementation of the constitutional “net ban” (Note the wording) and the date of formal hearing on this rule challenge, the MFC did not conduct or cause to be conducted any test with 500sf two inch mesh seine nets.
One has to remember the MFC testified that a 2 inch mesh seine would have a catch rate of marketable fish of 95-98%, but in 2005 the fishermen, the FWC and FWRI conducted a study that found the 2 inch mesh nets unnecessarily killed and wasted 98% of the fish captured. Only 2% of the fish caught were marketable. The state of Florida did not even bother to test the 2 inch mesh seine until 2005!
Those were the beginnings of 30 years of no “due process.” We challenge anyone to show us where the FWC obtained unquestionable constitutional rulemaking authority. We were never informed of it in the ballot summary, nor can we find it in Article IV, Section 9 (FWC) of the Florida Constitution.
Ronald F. Crum Panacea
This is a follow up letter to a series of letters about FWC. Use the folowing links to navigate to the other letters. SEEKING ANSWERS ON FWC (Published January 12, 2023), MORE QUESTIONS ABOUT FWC (Published January 19, 2023), NO DUE PROCESS UNDER FWC (Published January 26, 2023), SEEKING DUE PROCESS FROM FWC (Published February 23, 2023), CAPITOL PROTEST SET OVER DUE PROCESS (Published March 16, 2023) and SEEKING DUE PROCESS AT FWC (Published April 13, 2023)