Competition From Tax Dollars

The following letter to the editor was printed in the Key West Citizen on Sunday, April 26, 2015. It is referencing Monroe County’s proposed purchase of a fish house to compete with my own, Stock Island Lobster Co.

Editor – Key West Citizen

Flush with taxpayer money, the free-spending Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) is now buying a seven million dollar fish house for the citizens of Monroe County.

After thirty years of sitting on the sideline as commercial fishing was regulated down from twelve fish houses to three, politicians are now proposing to save the industry by purchasing the former Gulf Seafood Inc. – a property that has failed five times as a fish house due to government down-sizing of the fisheries.

The BOCC is now promoting the bogus theory that developers are responsible for the loss of our fisheries, and they can save the remaining fishermen by buying them their own fish house. I don’t know if they actually believe the false narrative, or whether it is just a back door approach to stopping development, but the argument itself displays an abysmal ignorance of what has been happening with fishery regulation, and ignores the reality of empty space at the two remaining fish houses.

While serving for the past forty years on numerous fishery panels, committees, boards, and commissions, I repeatedly warned of the relentless regulatory down-sizing of our industry, but elected officials were simply not interested.

Now, after the damage is done, posturing politicians are intending to ride to the rescue, and environmentalists – who dislike commercial fishing only slightly less than they dislike developers – are suddenly the fishermen’s new best friends.

In reality, the BOCC doesn’t know what they are buying, what they are going to do with it, what the consequences will be, whether it will help or hurt our commercial fishing industry, and what the long term cost to the County will be. Furthermore they have no interest in finding out.

Apparently the decision to purchase this property is based solely on the fact that the BOCC has the taxpayer’s money at their disposal, and they intend to spend it. If you are among those who liked the Hickory House purchase, you’re going to love this one.

Peter M. Bacle
Stock Island Lobster Co.

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