Florida voters could soon make fishing, hunting constitutional rights

Author: Casey Albritton / CW44 Tampa Bay
Published: Updated:
Florida pier. FILE: CBS

Florida could soon include fishing and hunting as constitutional rights… but it’s all up to voters.

“The lifestyle people are moving to Florida for, you’ve got to have that lifestyle,” said Captain Marvin Siple.

Captain Siple is a fisherman and works with a bait shop in Clearwater. He’s been fishing since he was a kid.

“Before you needed fishing licenses, when you just went out and caught dinner,” said Captain Siple.

For Siple, it’s one of his favorite things to do.

“It is so peaceful and relaxing, I had a charter boat that I sold and it’s still in service here. I didn’t even have a music radio in my boat. I like just going out and listening to the lines stream of the reel, listen to the birds, listen to the wind,” said Captain Siple.

For Siple, fishing is so important, he says it should be a right…and it soon it could be.

In 2024, Florida voters could vote to make fishing and hunting constitutional rights. Right now fishing and hunting are not being threatened, but lawmakers supporting the bill say it would help manage wildlife. They also say it would protect lawmakers’ efforts to ban the activities as seen in other states across the country.

Captain Siple says making it a constitutional right would protect fishing-related businesses.

“You need access to the water, you need the resources, you need the boats, you need the marine facilities, you need the bait and tackle and the charters,” said Siple.

But he says there have to be some regulations on how much you can fish.

“You’ve got to protect the resource. If you don’t it’s all going to be gone. Growing up here compared to what I saw in my youth compared to what I see now, it needs management. Yeah everybody gets to fish but come on. How much are you going to eat today?” said Captain Siple.

The bill would not limit the ability of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to continue setting rules for both fishing and hunting.

“Be nice, be fair, and leave something for tomorrow. Because if you catch all of those undersized fish, the big breeders, the little spawning fish, there’s nothing for tomorrow. If you want to take your kids fishing, your grandkids fishing, you’ve got to leave them something to do,” said Captain Siple.

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