Conservation groups seek to protect Georgians’ right to fish
ATLANTA— Georgia Wildlife Federation and Flint Riverkeeper, represented by Southern Environmental Law Center, have asked to join a lawsuit in Talbot County Superior Court in support of the state of Georgia’s defense of the public’s right to fish in the Flint River.
Marker 21, LLC, a riverfront property owner, is suing the state for a ruling that the company can control who fishes a portion of Yellow Jacket Shoals, a stretch of the Flint River that is world renowned for shoal bass. Shoal bass are a relatively rare, native species of black bass that are difficult and fun to catch.
“Anglers from all over the country, and even the world, travel to Yellow Jacket Shoals to pursue this unique fish in this beautiful place. It is good for the fishery, and it is good for the local economy,” said Georgia Wildlife Federation president and CEO Mike Worley
“The Flint River, including Yellow Jacket Shoals, is a treasure meant for people to enjoy. The dry land is private, the river is not,” said Flint Riverkeeper Gordon Rogers.
According to Georgia’s Department of Natural Resources, Yellow Jacket Shoals is navigable and open to the public for fishing. For centuries people have used the Flint River for fishing, paddling, swimming, and agricultural irrigation.
“Our state government builds boat ramps and stocks our rivers with fish so the public can access scenic waterways, like the upper Flint River for fishing,” said SELC senior attorney April Lipscomb.
Previous efforts to limit fishing rights on the Flint River resulted in Georgia lawmakers creating a new law earlier this year clarifying that the state of Georgia owns rivers that are navigable across the state and members of the public have a right to fish and hunt in them.
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