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    Greg and Beth

    the political and personal musings of two
    mountaineers living in west-central Florida
     
    Taking Another Toll Comment
    Gregory Morris, 3/12/08 8:20:18 am
    Possible Pinellas Bayway Toll Increase

    I am normally opposed to using tolls in the manner proposed, not because it is ineffective for raising money to complete road projects, but because once the toll is in place, it won't go away when they make their money back.

    That being said, in this case, the complaint is that the toll will end up being $7.25. That's pretty huge, and people that live in that area would be royally screwed. However, consider that it won't increase to that until 2038, by which time the American Dollar may be about as valuable as the Mexican Peso, making it a rather cheap toll. Of course, I'm not that much of a pessimist (usually.) Actually, I think having an un-crowded beach and boat launch would be nice down there... but that's not only selfish, it is kinda elitist, since the higher toll would basically cut off access to folks with less disposable income.

    Now, the main reason for my rant isn't actually about tolls per se, but about how the state keeps doing a little more every chance they get to screw me over. As the article suggests, fishermen will have a harder time justifying fishing trips. This is but one location along our state's massive shoreline, but it is just one-more-thing the state is doing to screw both sportfishing and conservation.

    First of all, with gas prices as high as they are (why haven't we lowered gas taxes yet?), it simply is not economical to go offshore. The Gulf of Mexico is really shallow, so you have to run out about 45 miles to be in 100 feet of water, which is where the fishing starts to get good. Actually, around Fort Desoto there is a deeper channel at the mouth of the bay, so you don't really have to go as far. But here, where you can actually get over some deep spots without breaking the bank... the state is doing its best to fix that "problem."

    The other problem is that the fishing regulations keep getting tighter. If you are only allowed to bring home two grouper, that certainly doesn't warrant spending $80 in gas! It is risky to fish in Florida in the first place, because there are so many rules to be aware of that you'll find it very difficult to stay legal.

    Because of these reasons, offshore fishing in the state is decreasing, which means that conservation funds which are generated by sportfishing (licenses, etc.) are going to dry up. If you want proof, go to a boat launch on a Saturday morning, around 7am. In the past, you would not have found a place to park. There are guide services that are shutting down because they can't afford to operate, and they can't sell a "two fish" trip.

    I've mentioned before my disdain for the increase in regulations of certain species of fish in Florida and Federal waters. The problem isn't conservation. I not only support, but demand that my government support conservation of our natural resources. So why am I pissed about the new grouper and snapper regulations? Because every time they tell sport-fishermen that we can harvest less fish, they turn around and tell commercial-fishermen that they can harvest more, and keep younger fish. This isn't conservation of our fisheries, this is selling them!

    I am clearly biased on this topic, but looking at it from a purely conservationist perspective, I realize that the state clearly isn't using good science to help conserve fish populations. In addition, they are virtually guaranteeing that money for conservation is going to decrease.

    [Comments are closed after a month.]

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