With only two legislative days left in the regular session, the Alabama Legislature passed and sent to Governor Riley a proposal that will eliminate gill nets in Alabama. The proposal creates an immediate voluntary buyout that conservation officials believe will eliminate 80% of gill nets within the first year of implementation. For gill netters who do not participate in the first year, it will prevent them from transferring their gill net license in the future, require them to personally be on the boat at all times when their license is being used, and bans all out of state gill netters from fishing in Alabama waters.
“This action is a major step forward in our campaign to ban gill nets in Alabama. Our mission from day one has been to protect Alabama’s fish resources and this proposal will make a significant, immediate impact. We appreciate key members of the Alabama Legislature such as Representative Jamie Ison, Speaker Seth Hammett, Senators Trip Pittman, Lowell Barron and Pat Lindsey who labored long and hard to hammer out this agreement. We also commend Representative Spencer Collier who was a tough adversary, but also fair in helping reach a resolution that will protect our fish resources and local economy,” stated Grey Cane III, State Chairman for CCA Alabama.
It appeared that efforts to ban gill nets were dead this year after the Alabama Senate killed the first 25 legislative days with a lengthy filibuster, but CCA legislative allies were able to get unanimous consent to move the gill net ban. At that point, CCA officials negotiated for more than a week with the opposition before an agreement could be reached that would significantly reduce the use of gill nets in Alabama waters. That agreement passed the House and Senate on the next to last day of the session.
“The legislature is a tough process to pass anything that has any controversy. But on the 26th legislative day, CCA members from across the state burned the phone lines up to Montgomery and backed down several legislators who tried to block our efforts. One Senator in Mobile who was an obstacle received more than 200 phone calls in one morning from CCA members. He had promised to start a filibuster, that would have killed our bill, but after he heard from hundreds of saltwater fishermen he quietly sat down and allowed our bill to move forward. That is what can happen when CCA members get active and work together to protect our fish resources,” Cane continued.
State Chairman Grey Cane thanked all CCA members from across the state for their involvement in this legislative effort, but he singled out for special praise CCA members Edwin Lamberth, Chair of the CCA Government Relations Committee and Manning McPhillips, State Chairman Emeritus who he says literally spent hundreds of hours working to ensure passage of the gill net ban.
“This is a huge victory for our fish resources, our saltwater fishermen, the local economy of South Alabama and for all of Alabama. We look forward to using this successful legislative effort as a springboard to stay involved and continue to work to protect our resources, and work to improve the resources for the Great State of Alabama,” Grey Cane concluded.