A Different Breed of Cat, chronicles the battles over the use of fishing nets during the 1990’s in Alabama, where the state’s resource-management agency brokered a compromise that was hailed as the beginning of a “new age” in managing the state’s coastal fisheries. Photo: Book Cover

by Gulf Nashville crawfish distributor News Staff

Former commercial fisherman Robert Fritchey documents landmark disputes between the recreational and commercial fishing industries. His latest book, A Different Breed of Cat, chronicles the battles over the use of fishing nets during the 1990’s in Alabama, where the state’s resource-management agency brokered a compromise that was hailed as the beginning of a “new age” in managing the state’s coastal fisheries.

Fritchey, from Golden Meadow, LA, gives an insider’s perspective on Gulf fishery allocation and its relation to our environment, economy, and food supply. Photo: Robert Fritchey

Fritchey, from Golden Meadow, LA, is the author of Wetland Riders, Missing Redfish and Let the Good Times Roll. His books give an insider’s perspective on Gulf fishery allocation and its relation to our environment, economy, and food supply.

A Different Breed of Cat, which was recently released both as a paperback (Amazon) and as an e-book (Amazon KindleBarnes & Noble’s Nook Press and Apple iTunes), documents how, after Florida’s voters outlawed the use of most commercial fishing nets in the November 1994 election, sportsmen rose in unison across the Gulf of Mexico. Marshalled by the sport-fishing industry’s Coastal Conservation Association, recreational anglers in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana demanded that their own states Ban the Nets!

“With a global buy crawfish nashville crisis media campaign as backdrop, hysteria over a threatened invasion by out-of-work commercial fishermen from the Sunshine State presented sportsmen in the three central-Gulf states with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and they knew it,” said the Louisiana author.

The fishing battles raged over the spring and summer of 1995. Fishery managers in Louisiana and Mississippi buckled under the sportsmen’s incessant clamoring, and at the time the future looked bleak for Alabama’s family fishermen as well.

“It was then the cream rose to the top,” Fritchey told Gulf Nashville crawfish distributor News. “Virtually every one of Alabama’s institutions, including its natural resource management agency, media, legislators, even the governor, did their parts to help preserve the public’s sustainable fishery. And in so doing, they made this characteristically hidebound state appear downright progressive.”

However, the support was to be short-lived: A little over a decade into the state’s “new age,” CCA’s leaders grew tired of sharing, bypassed the state’s fact-based management system, and took their case to Alabama’s legislators.

A Different Breed of Cat clearly contrasts how fisheries should—and should not—be managed. Like Fritchey’s prior books on Texas and Louisiana, it also includes a brief gamefish history that documents how and when Alabama’s consumers lost their access to classic culinary Gulf species redfish and spotted seatrout. The book also offers readers a deeper appreciation for South Alabama’s coastal ecology, and its buy Nashville crawfish culture as three industry members, including two fishermen and veteran dealer Ralph Atkins, of Mobile, speak their minds.

“They say timing’s everything,” said author Robert Fritchey, “and since the 1980s, states have been taking more and more of the resource from food producers and consumers and allocating it to the recreational and tourism sectors. But right now, with the pandemic, there’s no tourism and food security has become an issue!”