Bay may oppose crayfish plan

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
21 August 2007, at 1:00am

US - The Bay County Commission will consider a resolution today opposing the Panama City Crayfish Management Plan. The resolution urges the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission not to change the crustaceans status from a species of special concern to a threatened species.

"We're very disappointed — and somewhat confused," said Lt. Col. Louie Roberson, the Conservation Commission’s regional director for Northwest Florida.

The crayfish plan the state is considering aims to protect a species — Procambarus Econfinae — unique to Bay County. Local officials and developers say the efforts would prove too costly.

"What they’re proposing could be very harmful to development in Bay County," said Commissioner George Gainer. "I’ve seen the maps."

Gainer said the plan's economic impact to the area would be too great, and its restrictions and penalties would only encourage property owners to skirt the law.

"That’s just going to make sure that around midnight somebody's out on their property digging holes, making sure there aren’t any crawfish,"he said.

The proposed resolution is based on a similar action taken by Panama City in June. The city's resolution, in part, relied on the findings of Dr. Frasier Bingham. Gainer refers to the doctor as the foremost Panama City Crayfish expert.

"Well, I'm one of them — if there are any,” Bingham said. "The truth is there aren't any."

Bingham, an environmental consultant from Tallahassee, said the state's plan is an overkill.