Cortez Stone Crab Festival this weekend




The Stone Crab Festival will raise funds to keep an appeal
to lift the net ban in front of the Florida Supreme Court.

CORTEZ – Stone crab is at the top of the menu at the Third Annual ortez Stone Crab Festival on Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 8 and 9, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sarasota Bay at the end of 119th Street West.

The free festival will feature music by the Bobby G Band, Razing Cane, Karen and the Big Bad Wolves, Doug Deming, Reid Frost, Brandi and the Ride, Eric von Hahmann and Ted Stevens and the Doo-Shots.

Besides stone crabs fresh from the Cortez docks, the menu includes Cortez hot dogs (mullet dogs), pizza, shrimp and grits, and other fresh-from-Florida seafood, with freshly-made pina coladas with the coconuts opened by machete while you wait. You can also browse the work of local artists, and there are pony rides for the kids.

The festival is a fundraising effort by the Swordfish Grill, the Flippin’ Mullet Sports Bar, Cortez Bait and Seafood, N.E. Taylor Boatworks and the Cortez Kitchen for Fishing for Freedom, which supports a pending appeal to the Florida Supreme Court to reverse the 1995 state constitutional amendment banning gill nets.

The state’s highest court is not under any obligation to take the case, according to lawyers for the plaintiffs, The Wakulla Commercial Fishermen’s Association, Panacea bait shop owner Ronald Fred Crum and mullet fishermen Jonas Porter and Keith Ward, who sued the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in 2012, arguing that its enforcement of the net ban actually creates the unintended bycatch that the ban was designed to prevent.

Fishing for Freedom members plan to display fishing nets at the festival with models of different sized fish, including adult and juvenile mullet, to demonstrate how the banned gill nets target legal size mullet and let juvenile fish escape.

During its various appeals, the case has resulted in the net ban being temporarily lifted twice. In the most recent decision, the First District Court of Appeal reversed the decision lifting the net ban, putting the ban back in place, and prompting the appeal to the Florida Supreme Court.

The ban was approved by Florida voters in 1994 to preserve fish populations and prevent the accidental entrapment of unintended marine life. The ban became effective in 1995, putting commercial fishermen out of work in Cortez and statewide.

Published in: on November 5, 2014 at 9:38 am  Leave a Comment  

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