NOAA’s new rule requires boat captains to equip GPS tracker

Reporter: Gina Tomlinson
Published: Updated:
Photo by WINK News.

Keeping a watchful eye on fishermen, every charter captain will soon have to buy a GPS system for their boats, letting NOAA track their every move out on the water.

Now that new fishing rules will require charter boats to have tracking devices, boat captains like Lewis MacDonald and other fishermen on Fort Myers Beach worry their carefully navigated waters will get reeled into the wrong hands.

“So now you’re telling me I’m supposed to trust all my knowledge, all my fishing spots, to a machine that’s going to send a message to a master machine that a human has control of?” MacDonald said.

Plus, they will pay up to $3,000 for the GPS device right after red tide killed business for months.

“It’s going to eat more profit,” MacDonald said.

But NOAA said in the long run, the information collected could extend fishing seasons and improve research. One captain who has a similar tracking device on his boat. Captain Speedy Hubert, said it keeps passengers safe.

“If we have an issue or a problem, they’ll know where we are at all times, which is a good thing,” Hubert said.

A meeting to learn more about the new rules will be held 6 p.m. March 11 at Hyatt Place in Fort Myers at The Forum on Champion Ring Road.

“We need to overwhelm that building,” MacDonald said. “We need 345,000 people there.”

Because some captains also hope to voice their opposition.

NOAA said the new rules will go into effect later this year after being delayed by the government shutdown. For more information, see new requirements at NOAA’s website.

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