The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission is considering various alternatives for regulating the Boca Grande Jig. I would like to provide some context for making the best decision for all parties concerned, based on my great-grandfather Theodore Roosevelt’s leadership.
Roosevelt’s approach was relatively simple, straightforward and sensible. He saw that there are two fundamental approaches that are not mutually exclusive, but both have their place — preservation and conservation. An easy way to understand the difference is to compare the National Park Service to the U.S. Forest Service. Parks are meant to be preserved in a state altered as little as possible by man. Forests are meant to be conserved so they may be a continuing source of natural resources from generation to generation. A relatively small portion of the land should be preserved and by far the greater amount conserved.
In situations requiring conservation, the issue is always one of balance: How much should be consumed today and how much saved for tomorrow? One can always argue where the line should be drawn, and these are legitimate arguments, but the extreme and illegitimate positions are usually clear and inappropriate.
Roosevelt understood this but usually felt we should err on the side of protecting future generations, as the immediate benefits are so attractive that they can cloud our vision.
The Boca Grande Jig issue is clearly one that falls into the conservation side. The job of the commissioners is to decide whether or not the Jig is sufficiently destructive to require its banning.
I urge the commission to remember Theodore Roosevelt’s wise approach to these kinds of problems and rule accordingly. I think it’s very clear that his stand on this issue would be saving the species for future generations so that everyone can enjoy the fishery.
Tweed Roosevelt, Boston, Mass.