When a fishing license isn’t enough to ensure you’ll get the right fish, it’s also not enough to prevent a species from becoming a pest.
That’s the crux of a lawsuit filed against the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) over a controversial new fishery license for flounder, which is now a pest in Florida.
The Florida Department of Agriculture, which oversees the Florida Fish and Game Commission (FDGC), told The Verge in a statement that the agency has “been working closely with state and federal agencies” since the issue arose in October.
But the complaint filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida (ACLU) argues that the bureau has been “ignoring, allowing, and abetting” the fish license since at least 2016.
“The floundering fish licenses are intended to be temporary, temporary, and temporary,” the ACLU wrote.
“While the Florida Department is committed to ensuring that fish are released and removed from the water, it has repeatedly disregarded this obligation.”
Florida’s fish licenses for fluff are set to expire in 2022, and the USFWS has made it clear that it wants to make sure they’re not renewed again.
“The Florida Department has not only refused to issue licenses that will protect fish from becoming pests, but has also made clear that they intend to continue to restrict the fish population in Florida,” said the ACLU’s attorney, William Neeson.
“As a result, there is little public oversight of Florida’s flounders.”
It’s unclear what exactly the floundery industry wants with the licenses, but the Florida attorney general’s office said it will continue to fight the state’s fishing license changes.
The ACLU’s lawsuit claims that the Florida fish license changes were intended to make it harder for flounds to breed, but that the fish is already breeding in the wild, which makes it impossible to predict what the future holds for the species.
Florida’s new rules for fishing with floundered floundertails, the ACLU said, “are a direct violation of Florida statutes, regulations, and guidelines that require fish to be released from the waters and to be removed from Florida.”
In other words, it appears the government isn’t really sure what it wants with its flounderies.
“We are pleased to be joined in this lawsuit by our partners at the ACLU of Florida and other groups to ensure that Florida’s fishing licenses are in place to protect fish in the Sunshine State,” said Katherine Dineen, Florida’s director of the Florida Division of Fish and Fisheries.
“Florida should be a leader in the nation on protecting fish, and this suit shows that Florida is not.”