Impact of tourism on a natural resource community


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Impact of tourism on a natural resource community
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Jepson, Michael Edward
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Copyright 2004


Michael Edward Jepson

For my sons John Michael and Kai and to my parents Leroy and Margaret I dedicate this


I would like to thank the members of my committee for being patient with my

circuitous route to finishing my degree. I appreciate Jerry Murray and Jim Cato for

bearing with my fits and starts over the years and keeping me in mind. I would especially

like to thank Tony Paredes, who has followed my journey through the early years of my

career and diligently urged me to finish to the very end. To my chair, Anthony Oliver-

Smith, I owe a great deal of thanks for hanging in there, even though at times it seemed I

would never get to this point. His comments and insight have always provided clarity

and direction to my work that constantly made it much better. Thanks go to Michael

Robbins who gave me my first fieldwork opportunity and kept me in good physical

shape. I want to show my appreciation to J. Stephen Thomas, who introduced me to the

study of fishermen and their communities, I truly enjoyed those early years walking the

docks and chasing armadillos down dirt roads. To Peggy Overbey I owe a great deal of

thanks for convincing me to come to the University of Florida and its Anthropology

program. I could not have survived those first years without her support. Of course I

would not be here if it was not for Robert Graber, who introduced me to Anthropology

and encouraged me to pursue a graduate degree. I have never had the opportunity to sit

and discuss so much about the discipline with anyone since those undergraduate years.

For his assistance and encouragement I would also like to thank Steve Jacob, a genuine


To all of the residents of Cortez with whom I had the express pleasure of living

with, hanging out on their docks and fishing on their boats, I am eternally grateful. Most

of all I want to thank Alcee Taylor and Plum for letting me become part of their family. I

miss those morning coffees with Alcee looking out over Sarasota Bay and Plum's pecan

pie. I also want to thank Blue Fulford and Wanda for everything they provided me over

the years, especially a place to live and Wanda's wonderful cooking, not to mention

Blue's smoked mullet. I cannot imagine Cortez without these four people who have done

so much for me. There are so many others I want to thank but will only mention a few:

Karen Bell, Linda Molto, Wayne Nield, Trigger and Sheila Mora, Doris Green, Walter

Bell, Calvin Bell, Junior and Kim Taylor, Larry Fulford, Mark Taylor, Richard and Gerry

Culbreath, Goose Culbreath, Junie Mora, Vernon Mora, Ray Pringle, Ralph Fulford,

Mary Green and many others. To all I owe a great deal of gratitude for the friendship and

kindness shown to me. I thank them!

Lastly, I want to thank some dear friends and family. To Suzanna Smith, with

whom I discovered Cortez, I want to say thanks for the camaraderie and collegiality that I

thought was lost in research and academia. Those years traveling the Florida coast are

some of my most treasured fieldwork memories, especially the long deliberations we had

in the car. To Ken Donnelly who first stimulated my interest in social science and issues

of social justice I am indebted a great deal. I thank Ken, whose legacy lives on even

though he may have gone astray. Finally, I thank my brothers and sister whose love and

encouragement kept my determination alive.


ACKN O W LED G M EN TS ............................................................................................i..... ii

LIST OF TABLES............................................................................................................ vii

LIST O F FIG UR ES ......................................................................................................... viii

ABSTRA CT........................................................................................................................ x


1 STRIP MALLS AND STRIPED MULLET................................................................. 1

Introduction................................................................................................................... 1
Coastal W aterfronts Trends.......................................................................................... 2
General Outline of Research....................................................................................... 13
M ethodology............................................................................................................... 16
Overview of Chapters................................................................................................. 22
Anthropological Fieldw ork and A dvocacy................................................................. 24

RESISTAN CE ....................................................................................................... 28

W hat is Com m unity? .................................................................................................. 31
Natural Resource-Dependent Communities ............................................................... 39
Tradition and Identity ................................................................................................. 44
Tourism : its Prom ise and its Presence ........................................................................ 47
W hat is Tourism ? ........................................................................................................ 48
The Political: Econom y and Ecology ......................................................................... 50
The Culture of Resistance........................................................................................... 53
Social Justice .............................................................................................................. 57
Theoretical Them es .................................................................................................... 59

3 THE EN V IRON M EN T .............................................................................................. 63

The N natural Environm ent........................................................................................... 64
Florida's Ecosystem and Fishery Resources ....................................................... 67
Trends in Florida Fishing .................................................................................... 68
Sarasota Bay Fishing Trends ............................................................................... 77
M arine Fisheries Regulation................................................................................ 79

Social Environm ent ....................................................................................................82
Florida Population Trends and Dem ographics....................................................82
Manatee County and Cortez Population Trends and Demographics.............83......
Cortez Population and Dem ographics................................................................. 85


Prehistory .................................................................................................................... 90
Early Spanish Fisheries............................................................................................... 91
Capt. Bunce's Fishery................................................................................................. 92
Hunter's Point Fishery ................................................................................................ 92
North Carolina Fisherm en arrive in Cortez.................................................. ...........94
The 1921 Hurricane .................................................................................................... 99
The Depression......................................................................................................... 103
W orld W ar II and a New Era of Organization.......................................................... 105
Encroachm ent on the Village.................................................................................... 118
Contemporary Cortez ................................................................................................120

5 THE CULTURE OF A NATURAL RESOURCE COMMUNITY ......................... 127

The Fishery and Fisherm en ...................................................................................... 128
At the Fish House ..................................................................................................... 138
Daily Routines and Seasonal Times......................................................................... 144
Traditional Crafts and Use of Space......................................................................... 148
Place Nam es and Sacred Places................................................................................ 152
The Close Ties of Kinship ........................................................................................ 156

6 CULTURAL RESISTAN CE IN CORTEZ .............................................................. 159

Issues, Identities and Interests .................................................................................. 160
Class, Power and Knowledge in a Natural Resource Conflict ................................. 174
Resistance, Both W within and W without ...................................................................... 185

7 EPILOGUE AND CONCLUSION ........................................................................... 203

Epilogue.................................................................................................................... 203
Post Net Ban............................................................................................................. 208
Conclusion................................................................................................................ 213

APPENDIX ORAL HISTORY INTERVIEW SCHEDULE ......................................... 221

LIST OF REFERENCES................................................................................................. 226

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ........................................................................................... 242


Table page

1-1 Events Tim eline.......................................................................................................... 20

6-1 The Marine Environmental Concern Scale for Commercial and Recreational
Fishermen from Florida ....................................................................................... 181

7-1 Percentage Change in Average Annual Florida Commercial Landings, Effort and
Dockside Value for Selected Species after the Net Ban ...................................... 210


Figure Page

1-1 Station in front of Star Fish Co................................................................................... 11

2-1 Cortez, Florida and Surrounding Communities.......................................................... 29

3-1 Cortez as Located on Florida's Gulf Coast ................................................................ 64

3-2 Florida's Total Commercial Fisheries Landings from 1974 to 2002 ......................... 68

3-3 Florida West Coast Total Commercial Fisheries Landings from 1974 to 2002.........69

3-4 Bluefish Landings for Recreational and Commercial Fishermen from 1981-1996. .71

3-5 Florida Spotted Sea Trout Landings for Commercial and Recreational Sectors from
1981-1996................................................................................................................. 72

3-6 Florida Landings of Mullet for Commercial and Recreational Sectors from 1981-

3-7 Florida Landings of King Mackerel for Commercial and Recreational Sectors from
1981-1996................................................................................................................. 74

3-8 Florida landings of Spanish Mackerel for Commercial and Recreational Sectors from
1981-1996................................................................................................................. 76

3-9 Florida's Total Population from 1830-2000 ............................................................... 83

3-10 Florida Coastal County and Noncoastal County Population from 1920 to 1990.....84

3-11 Manatee County Personal Income from Fishing for 1984 through 1997. ..............85

3-12 Manatee County Personal Income from Service Industries for 1984 through 1997.86

4-1 Historic Village of Cortez South of Cortez Road..................................................... 121

5-1 Gill Net Configuration. ............................................................................................. 128

5-2 Net Fisherman and his Kicker with Mullet in Net.................................................. 130

5-3 Trammel Net Configuration ..................................................................................... 132

5-4 Cortez Village with Location of Fish Houses .......................................................... 140

5-5 Part Time Labor Used During Roe Mullet Season................................................... 142

5-6 Seasonal Cycles within the Natural Resource Community of Cortez ...................... 145

5-7 Banner at Seafood Festival ....................................................................................... 147

5-8 Fisherman's Yard in Cortez...................................................................................... 149

5-9 Wives Packing Mullet in Ice .................................................................................... 151

5-10 Placename Mural on the A.P. Bell Fish House ...................................................... 153

6-1 Image of Dolphin Caught in Net in Florida Sportsman, March 1992...................... 161

6-2 Author Peter Matthiessen with Cortez Historian, Doris Green ................................ 171

6-3 Tallahassee Mullet Ruling Protest............................................................................ 185

6-4 Burton's Store Located across from A.P. Bell Fish Company................................. 188

7-1 Old Schoolhouse at West End of Village ................................................................. 211

7-2 Taylor Boatworks ..................................................................................................... 212

Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy



Michael Edward Jepson

May 2004

Chair: Anthony Oliver Smith
Major Department: Anthropology

The dissertation examines the impact of an increasing emphasis upon recreational

tourism by state, regional and local governments on the fishing community of Cortez,

Florida. Of particular interest is how resistance by fishermen toward increasing

regulation on the water and the residents of the village toward increasing development on

land influences the perception of who they are and affects their ability to stem the tide of

an influential "growth machine."

The fast-paced growth of Florida's coastal counties has produced a demographic

shift where once isolated, rural, working-class fishing communities are now surrounded

by middle to upper middle class leisure and recreation communities. These newly

established communities have decidedly different values concerning the nature of work,

family, the environment and community. These differing values become apparent as

recreational fishing interest groups attempt to remove traditional fishing gear from state

waters in the form of a "net ban."

Resistance for commercial fishermen reinforces a strong sense of independence

and autonomy within their work and lives, yet it does not seem an acceptable image to

the general public. The image of commercial fishermen that prevails during the media

campaign to push the "net ban" initiative to a constitutional amendment has a significant

impact on their fight over natural resources. While recreational fishing groups portrayed

commercial fishermen as outlaws and destroyers of the resource, commercial fishermen

and their families envisioned a different image more akin to Native Americans being

pushed off their land.

The net ban campaign was successful and removed entanglement nets from state

waters. It was a devastating defeat for commercial fishermen who have tried to regroup

and have switched to other fisheries or sought other employment. Cortez, the

community, has also regrouped, but the closure of two fish houses has brought into

question the compatible use of waterfront property that could easily succumb to tourism

and recreational development. Resistance continues to be mounted, but whether it can

prevail will certainly be a key as to whether this community can retain some of the

identity it has fashioned for over a century.



Coastal communities worldwide are experiencing a number of interdependent

changes that often include rapidly growing populations, increasing regulation,

degradation of local ecosystems and, in some cases, a complete collapse of important

marine resources. Any one of these particular changes has the capability of initiating

further change; together they may represent a severe threat to a community's

sustainability and ability to endure.

This research will explore how the residents of one Southwest Central Florida

fishing community have resisted threats to their occupation and traditional life ways as a

result of an increasing emphasis upon recreational tourism within the state, which

ultimately challenged their identity and the future sustainability of their community. The

purpose of this research will be to characterize their resistance to change within the

context of natural resource dependency. This work will provide insight into the processes

that foster resistance and how it is viewed outside the community. In addition, it will

provide an understanding of the important role identity plays in maintaining one's sense

of place and belonging within a natural resource community and the contradictions that

become apparent when change begins to reach further and further into traditional

community life.

Coastal Waterfronts Trends

Upward or downward shifts in population and the subsequent changes in the

economic resource base have affected many natural resource dependent communities

worldwide. The population growth rate for Florida's coastal counties has been increasing

at a much faster rate than that for non-coastal counties. With this growing population

there has been a shift in the demographic character of Florida's coastal communities, with

many more elderly and retired individuals residing here full time and enjoying the

moderate weather. Isolated rural communities like Cedar Key, which were once

important commercial fishing centers, are now more dependent upon recreational fishing

and tourism. Further south, the Key West waterfront, once a harbor for commercial

fishing vessels, is now crowded with cruise terminals, tourist excursion boats, and charter

fishing vessels. Rapid population growth along with the ebb and flow of seasonal

residents and tourists seeking recreation along Florida's coasts has displaced commercial

fishing operations from these former working waterfronts (Adams 1987; Adams et al.


Elsewhere, Vietnamese refugees entering inshore shrimp fisheries in Alabama and

Texas have transformed southern coastal fishing communities. Oil and gas exploration in

other parts of the Gulf have had impacts on the physical coast and the economies of

coastal communities, both positive and negative. However, an underlying emphasis upon

recreational tourism is always a part of the mix. Over the past 14 years I have reflected

on these coastal trends and the impacts that have affected the fishing communities in

which I have conducted research; the experience was instrumental in forming the focus of

this research.

Over time, I have talked with countless fishermen and their families from Texas

to North Carolina. Often it was business and a structured interview, other times it was

casual and about the weather, inevitably it was about fish, fishing and being a fisherman.

Born and raised in a small Midwestern-farming town, I could identify with an

individual's attachment to the land--feeling a part of it as you cultivated, planted and

harvested a crop. The fishermen I talked with expressed a similar commitment to their

occupation and connection to their environment; some even thought of themselves as

farming the sea. But, there was always more of an edginess in the way they spoke of

fishing in comparison; it seemed more of a challenge, always a little more exciting and

far more dangerous. It set them apart and made them seem different as they talked of

work on the water and that unstable platform they considered their home away from

home, their vessel--their boat. However, it was not only fishermen that afforded that

distance, others also spoke of them as existing on the margins of society.

As I traveled from one fishing community to another, when I would mention that

I was going to interview fishermen people would say, "Oh, they won't talk to you! They

don't like strangers!" or "They don't trust anyone." Fishermen also would make similar

comments about their counterparts living in another fishing community: "Oh, you don't

want to go down there. Those guys are not too keen on strangers. They can be pretty

rough." Nevertheless, I can honestly say they rarely lived up to that stereotype.

Certainly, they were surly at times, and tough, and "macho," but those seemed to be

simple ground rules, a rough exterior that often masked a much more sincere and kinder


I will always remember in 1985 as I conducted personal interviews in the town of

Bayou La Batre, one shrimp boat captain had somehow avoided me all summer. I finally

caught up with him as he was working on his boat toward the middle of August. I stood

there explaining to him the survey research I was conducting and asked if he would be

willing to participate. He glanced up at me with a mischievous smile and I knew

something was about to happen. I turned in time to realize I was standing in front of the

exhaust pipe of the generator motor upon which he had been working. I closed my eyes

just in time as he punched the starter button, turning the engine over just enough to belch

out a cloud of black smoke that quickly flew past my face. As his laughter subsided, I

asked, "Will you do the interview?" He said, "Yeah, come on in my office." Similar

pranks by fishermen, targeting other fishermen, were also common at the many docks I

visited and seemed a customary test of perseverance. Nonetheless, I have invariably

found fishermen easy to approach and easy to engage in conversation and, more often

than not, for a much longer conversation than I anticipated.

The mystique and the stereotype that surround fishermen and their communities

have always fascinated me. The often-repeated warning of "don't go there" was baffling

as I continually found fishermen and their families to be contrary to what I was told.

That is not to say that some were not rude and standoffish, but they were the exception,

not the rule. And I must admit that on more than one occasion after a lengthy interview

and constant reaffirmation that I was a graduate student conducting survey research, a

fisherman would once again question whether or not I was really working with the IRS.

Regardless, there seems to be a contradiction that continues to endure to this day about

who fishermen are and how inviting their communities may be. I am not the first to


recognize this, as others like Acheson (1988) have found similar stereotypes and Gilmore

(1990) has fittingly outlined both the positive and negative source and symbol of this

meaningful image.

The essence of the fisherman stereotype is his claim to independence (Thomas et

al. 1995). Acheson (1981) characterized the cross-cultural literature in which fishermen

from around the world displayed this particular trait. In his ethnography of independent

truckers, Agar (1986) suggests that there are similarities between truckers and

commercial fishermen. Both are affected by the contradiction between cultural image

and social reality, similar to that cultural icon of independence, the cowboy of the

American West. The cowboy is the emblem of unrestrained personal freedom, a national

theme according to Agar (1986:9). He had a special sense ofjustice, according to Bellah

et al. (1985), who points out that it was difficult for him to fully belong to society, for to

serve he must stand alone not depending on others and not submitting to their wishes


The identification with this symbolic image of the American West is ironic, for

both truckers and fishermen are highly regulated and both are dependent upon others as

they endeavor to fulfill their obligations of work; fishermen especially can become

financially dependent upon fish house owners as they build up debt obligations for

fishing gear and repairs. What is even more contradictory is that during research with

fishing families in Florida prior to my dissertation fieldwork, it was not the cultural

image of the cowboy and independence that was often being conjured up by those

interviewed, but that of Native Americans and their historic demise. Fishermen saw

themselves as being pushed off their reservation, just like Native Americans had in the

past. Furthermore, it was the image of outlaw that prevailed in the campaign by

recreational fishing interests to remove traditional small-scale net gear from state waters

(Smith and Jepson 1993). That contradiction between cultural image and social reality

for fishermen and their community has been a recurring theme during much of the

research in which I have participated.

In 1990,1 was hired as Field Coordinator on a research project that was to

examine the impact of increasing regulation on gill net fishermen and their families

(Smith and Jepson 1993). Ninety-five in-depth interviews about the impact of

regulations on their business and personal lives were conducted with fishing families

around the state of Florida from 1990 through 1992. I arranged and conducted all

interviews with the assistance of two different female interviewers over the course of the

study. This research differed from most of my past experience in that interviews were

conducted with both fisherman and partner. The first half of the interview was conducted

with both together. In the second half of the interview, I interviewed the fisherman and

the female interviewer the wife or partner. This provided an entirely different perspective

on the business of fishing and provided me with new insight on the family life of

fishermen. It was during this research that I became aware of the importance of

independence not only to fishermen, but also as an important characteristic of fishing


It was also during the conduct of that research that I became acquainted with the

community of Cortez. One of the immediate features that struck me as unique about this

community was the relatively undisturbed working waterfront Having visited many

other fishing villages around the state, I had seen no other commercial fishing waterfront

that seemed so confined and with so little intrusion from recreational tourism. This was

in spite of the community being surrounded by a sprawling coastal urban environment.

In addition, Cortez showed a strong sense of kinship and unity that did not seem to be as

openly present in other communities visited. These factors were important in my

decision to select Cortez as my fieldwork site.

Originally, my research was to focus upon traditional or local knowledge of the

environment. It was obvious from my previous work with shrimp fishermen and my

experience with net fishermen in Florida that there was a distinct difference in how

fishermen and marine scientists came to understand the same ecosystem. I intended to

document fishermen's local knowledge and to explore their concept of conservation and

folk models about the ecosystem in which they were so accustomed to working.

My interest in this subject led me to create a modified attitudinal scale based upon

the New Environmental Paradigm (NEP) that was used in two different surveys. One

survey was a mail survey with recreational fishermen selected randomly from around the

state; the other was conducted with commercial fishermen and their wives from the

fishing family study previously mentioned. Results from these surveys will be discussed


My interest in the environmental context of fishing soon brought my attention to

the concept of natural resource community. Rural sociologists whose focus was most

often on terrestrial resources rather than marine resources have long studied natural

resource dependent communities. Gale (1991) used the term Natural Resource

Manufacturing and Administration (NR-MAN) coastal community in which the

economic base revolves around the exploitation of water-based natural resources. Dyer

et al. (1992) used the more concise term of natural resource community. As most

research shows, these types of communities differ markedly from other types of

communities and are most often rural; their dependence upon natural resources exposes

them to a number of economic challenges which other communities do not face. In

addition, there is an important impact upon the social life of these communities. This

was apparent in all fishing communities I have worked in, but was also an important part

of my past growing up in a farming community.

In November 1991, 1 asked a retired Cortez commercial fisherman what he

thought of my planned move to the village to conduct dissertation fieldwork. I explained

that I was interested in spending time with commercial net fishermen to gain an

understanding of their fishing methods and how they interacted with their environment.

He thought it was a great idea but he had one request, "Just tell them the truth!" I was

pleased that he was open to the idea and thought his comment to be interesting. I discuss

this important comment later in Chapter 6.

I asked another active commercial fisherman his opinion of my wish to do

dissertation fieldwork in the community and he, too, encouraged me to come there to

live. He even offered a place to live at a greatly reduced rent, which was vital to my

being able to live within the community as high rents were typical of the market in and

outside the community. This is another common impact of a growing population and

increased tourism along the coast. It is most often referred to as "gentrification," where

coastal property becomes increasingly desirable and much more valuable (Gale 1991).

The subsequent higher property value and rents often preclude younger fishing families

from being able to own or rent property in their communities of origin. In addition, it has

forced commercial fishermen to change long established work habits or move to other

locations away from the waterfront (Gale 1991; McGoodwin 1986).

Shortly after moving to the village I discussed the possibility of changing the

focus of my research to tourism and its impact upon the community at the request of my

advisor. I had recently become aware of plans to establish a maritime museum within the

community and therefore I was very curious about this new area of research.

Furthermore, I had witnessed concern by several community members over the impacts

of expanding tourism within and around the community. It seemed an appropriate topic

given the immediate context of events.

The recurring theme of contradictory image and changing identity for fishermen

and their communities seemed even more relevant to this new area of research as a very

negative image of commercial fishermen was being used over and over in the outdoor

sections of local newspapers as recreational fishing interests were attempting to denigrate

the commercial fishing industry. I felt in some ways this changing image could be linked

to the growing emphasis upon tourism as outdoor writers were writing for a recreational

fishing public who were often seasonal residents and tourists or at least of a different

socio-economic class. The focus on the impact of tourism would later become even more

important as the campaign to remove traditional fishing methods would consume this and

many other commercial fishing communities.

After moving to Cortez, I began attending evening meetings of several

community organizations: Organized Fishermen of Florida (OFF), Florida Institute for

Saltwater Heritage (FISH), and the Seafood Festival Committee. Through my attendance

at these meetings I became familiar with most of those individuals who were active in

community affairs.

Of particular interest were the activities of FISH, which was the organization that

was spearheading the establishment of the maritime museum. I eventually became an

officer of the organization and helped produce their first newsletter. In addition, I was

instrumental in helping FISH secure a grant from the Florida Humanities Council in

which I was a principal investigator along with another resident of the village. That

individual was a photographer and architectural historian, in addition to being designated

Director of FISH. His role for the grant was to photograph the individuals who were to

be interviewed and some photographs were used for stations that were placed around the

village. My participation and its implications are discussed further in the methodology

section below.

I conducted thirty-five oral histories with residents of the community as part of

that grant. In addition, and as a final product, several lectures were delivered in Sarasota

and Manatee Counties describing the project and the outcome. As mentioned, one of the

outcomes from the grant was a series of stations within the village that documented the

traditional life ways and skills of the residents in this natural resource community. Each

station consists of photographs and text describing a particular aspect of traditional life:

work, music, food production, and local place names (Figurel-1).

Another important organization within the community is the local chapter of

Organized Fishermen of Florida (OFF). I was an honorary member (my dues were paid

by a local fish house) and I participated in several functions that raised money for that

and other organizations within the community, such as the Seafood Festival and

community fish fries. The OFF meetings became an important venue for decision-

making by the fishermen as to how they would fight the campaign to remove traditional

gear from state waters. It was also an important source of information on management

issues and was the one place where conflicts among fishermen were addressed openly in

public. Meetings of the OFF often brought together two very different factions of


Figure 1-1. Station in front of Star Fish Co.

commercial fishermen in Cortez and provided for some very tense and sometimes

raucous gatherings.

Although I was never formally a member, another important organization within

the community is the Cortez Village Historical Society. Started by a former resident who

remains as its leader, it became a vehicle for early resistance to development within the

village. It was also the purveyor of a particular history of Cortez that was not shared by

all Cortesians, which provided some impetus for the formation of FISH. A testament to

its activism, but also to its division, there are probably few fishing communities, no less

unincorporated places, which have two local organizations dedicated to the historic

preservation of the community and its traditional culture.

While I lived in Cortez I spent time on the docks and at the fish houses talking to

fishermen and residents of the community on a daily basis. I expressed an interest in

spending some time on the water and was offered the opportunity to go fishing with

several fishermen during my stay. I participated in both the purse seine bait fishery and

the small boat gill net fishery on several occasions, performing a limited but helpful role

in each case. For a divergent perspective, I also contacted the Florida Marine Patrol and

spent time on the water with a marine patrol officer as he made his rounds.

It became apparent that many Cortesians challenged the progression of change

they confronted on a daily basis. In fact, it became obvious that they felt the need to

develop resistance to several impending changes, i.e., the demolition of the local historic

hotel, the proposed fixed span bridge to Anna Maria Island to replace the drawbridge, and

the growing campaign to remove their traditional gear from state waters. All were

challenges that brought into question: who they were, how they wanted to live their lives

and what their future would be. These challenges, although not seemingly related to

tourism directly, were connected and certainly related to the burgeoning population

surrounding this community that was drawn to the climate and recreational opportunities.

Throughout the year there is an ebb and flow of seasonal residents and tourists

which influences the pace of life and the make up of nearby communities. Within the

community of Cortez there is also this seasonal fluctuation. The local economy of

Bradenton and Manatee County thrives on these seasonal visitors and therefore the local

government tends to support the economic benefit they bring. Unfortunately, the growth

that comes with such an economic boon is not always as welcome.

My experience in other areas of the Gulf of Mexico and my travels in Florida

greatly influenced my choice to study the different facets of life for fishermen and their

families in Cortez and the interconnectedness with tourism and growth. My many

conversations with fishermen and their families reinforced the persistent themes I have

mentioned that will be explored further in this research.

General Outline of Research

This research will explore the perceived threats facing the commercial fishing

village of Cortez in Southwest Central Florida that stem from the seemingly inevitable

growth and change along its coast. It examines the impact of an increasing emphasis

upon recreational tourism from state, regional and local government and how resistance

within the community to the resulting change has influenced perceptions of identity both

within and outside the community. Questions concerning the issue of social justice are

also considered as the identity of the commercial sector of the fishing public is

manipulated in a political battle over access to natural resources.

This community, like so many others that were first settled in a frontier

environment, still holds onto the ideal of a simpler rural lifestyle, a lifestyle that seems in

direct contrast to the urban sprawl and coastal change fueled by the growth of

recreational tourism development along Florida's coasts. That same rural ideal has

shaped the identity of this community and many of its longtime residents, an identity that

is often as contradictory as is the belief in a rural lifestyle. It is also an identity that

seems to shift between righteous individualist to outlaw in one instance and from

isolationist to integrationist in another. The willingness to hold on to any identity

becomes important as the community faces the challenge of competing notions of who

they are. These competing notions are often unflattering toward fishermen and their

communities and are prevalent among urban Floridians and seasonal visitors to the state

who are unfamiliar with the rural and often isolated fishing community.

Various forms of resistance to modernity, such as social protest and illicit fishing

techniques, have evolved over time within Cortez. Serious threats to their occupation,

community, and cultural heritage have forced these residents to engage in a number of

strategies to resist pressures that stem from high impact government projects, commercial

development, increasing regulation of fisheries, and attempts to abolish traditional fishing

practices. They have resisted change by organizing formal challenges to both private and

government interests at the local, state, and federal level. Yet, they have also acquired

resources from and enlisted the services of those very same governmental agencies to

assist them in their challenges.

Another, more informal, resistance is generally hidden from the majority of

residents and others. That resistance comes through daily challenges to increased

competition and fisheries' regulations through illicit fishing techniques on the water,

away from the larger landlocked community. This latter form of resistance is associated

with feelings of independence and defiance that have helped fashion an identity that

commercial fishermen have traditionally cultivated and most recently have tried to

modify, the image of outlaw. Their antagonists throughout the campaign to disallow the

use of entanglement gill nets in state waters used that image effectively against them.

Both the formal and informal resistances were more successful in the past, but

recent events have shaped a new political ecology and political economy that challenge

fishermen's sense of place. In the early years of fishery management, state and federal

agencies relied on commercial fishermen for data collection and assessments of the stock.

The more recent trend is toward independent sampling and reliance upon complex

scientific modeling. Their ability to influence the political arena has also diminished over

the years as they have become outnumbered, both on the water and land, by a much more

affluent and better educated sector of recreational fishing public. With fewer skills and

far fewer financial resources, commercial fishermen and their families were unable to

sway public opinion against a very polished media campaign to remove their traditional

gear from state waters.

This research examines the two forms of resistance that have been employed to

challenge the many intrusions facing this community: 1) the formal and more public

resistance within the bureaucratic and political arena; and 2) the informal and everyday

cultural resistance on the water. In general, both men and women participated in the

more formal forms of resistance: women through their organizational skills and writing

capabilities, men through their efforts of political lobbying. Men, on the other hand,

participated solely in the everyday resistance on the water through illicit fishing methods.

It is difficult to address these matters as they can have serious implications for

those who have participated; however, this activity is critical to the discussion of

resistance. My discussion of illegal activity will be done in such a manner so as to avoid

incriminating anyone. I discuss this issue at further length in the methodology section.

As they have organized support for their occupation, community, and cultural

heritage, commercial fishermen and their families have found themselves questioning

their role and identity within their own society. The time-honored values of hard work

and strong kinship ties seem archaic in a society that struggles to accept rapid change and

increased mobility. Their survival rests with their ability to find a voice as a rapidly

growing population, often with competing goals, continues to encroach upon their

community and sense of place.

It is this contradictory relationship between this community and its changing

landscape that is explored through an analysis of the village's activities during one of

their most critical challenges, the campaign to ban entanglement nets in state waters.

That fight to maintain their traditional fishing method forced them to reflect upon their

occupation, community, sense of place and identity. All are inextricably tied together

and form a focal point as various individuals and groups worked to hold on to fleeting

images of times past, tried to maintain a contradictory rural lifestyle, and anticipated an

uncertain future.


I hesitate to call this research eclectic in its theoretical approach although it does

draw upon several theories of human behavior and thought. My training as an

anthropologist began with a strong emphasis in materialist theory and quantitative

methods. It has since been molded into a more ecological perspective, but has been

influenced by economic anthropology and community studies and an increasing

utilization of qualitative methodology. I do tend to be eclectic in my approach to solving

problems in the sense that you need to use what works. Harris (1979) has said that

eclecticism leads to "perpetual scientific disaster: middle-range theories, contradictory

theories, and unparsimonious theories without end" (1979:288). However, the strength of

eclecticism is its broad approach, its "interdisciplinary focus." Cultural materialism or

any other theoretical perspective may have too narrow a focus and might miss the

intersystem relationships while focusing on the intrasystem relationships (Garbarino

1992:15). This is not a criticism of the Cultural Materialist approach as it would be very

appropriate as there are important infrastructural mechanisms, the interface between the

environment and technology, which influence the community and the occupation. Yet,

because this is an initial exploration a more inductive approach utilizing participant

observation may be suitable. Attempting to gather quantitative data through surveys may

be too cumbersome and miss subtle relationships within the community.

It is my intention to illuminate the interrelationship between various components

of this particular cultural system within this natural resource community and examine

their influence upon its residents. Specifically, I intend to draw attention to how people

within a natural resource community adapt to and resist change given the many different

resources they have at hand.

This study is descriptive and does not emphasize any one theoretical perspective.

However, it draws upon a body of work from several fields including community science

and community development; political economy and ecology; ecological anthropology;

cultural resistance and tourism. Each of these fields provides an important perspective

that is significant in forging a more holistic understanding of this community and how it

has adapted to change. Although this may be one case study and is limited by both time

and place, I believe that further research with this perspective can inform the body of

literature on natural resource community and community development with a particular

emphasis upon tourism and coastal change.

Methodologically, this research relies on ethnographic methods of participant

observation and key informant interviews as the primary means of data collection. I

spent a great deal of time assisting the director of the Florida Institute of Saltwater

Heritage (FISH) who was working on several projects within the village. This entailed

meeting with various different groups within the county and local area to locate support

for the proposed maritime center. We conducted a census of historic structures as part of

the proposed National Register nomination and prepared several proposals to fund a

variety of projects to document folk life in the village. In addition, I also spent time

hanging out at fish houses, attending meetings and participating in village events and

going out on a few fishing boats. I would take field notes either during or after such

events depending upon the nature of the undertaking. I was also able to obtain minutes of

meetings for the Organized Fishermen of Florida that I was unable to attend and therefore

had records of some events where I was not present. Archive material from local

libraries and local historical organizations were also obtained when available. As part of

a Florida Humanities Council grant that was awarded to FISH with me as one of the

principal investigators, I conducted thirty-five oral histories with village residents, some

of which were transcribed through word processing and both electronic and paper copies

were archived in the village. The interview schedule used while conducting those

interviews is included in Appendix A. Additionally, I was invited to spend time at many

family gatherings to enjoy some very good home-cooking and engage in long discussions

with my hosts about fishing and village life, both past and present.

Although it is primarily qualitative in its approach, quantitative data are presented

where and when needed. Demographic and landings data provided by government

agencies are used to provide context and perspective on growth and change for Florida,

Manatee County and Cortez. In addition, survey data collected from recreational and

commercial fishermen are examined to explore questions of opinion and attitude about

the environment. A scale I created by modifying the New Environmental Paradigm Scale

to reflect an emphasis upon the marine environment was added to two different surveys

conducted with two different populations of Florida residents and is presented in Chapter

6 where a comparison of responses to items in the scale is discussed.

The time between my fieldwork and the completion of this dissertation has

spanned a time period much longer than anticipated. For some perspective I have

presented in Table. 1-I a timeline which chronicles some of the important events in the

history of Cortez including my own arrival and departure. Since leaving the village of

Cortez there have been several important achievements and events that do not appear on

the timeline. In early chapters I describe Cortez as it existed prior to the net ban in order

to give some perspective on the important changes which followed that significant event.

In the Epilogue and Conclusion chapter important changes after the net ban amendment,

such as changes in seafood landings and noteworthy changes within the organizations

active in preserving the village are presented to assess the impact of the amendment.

As James Spradley has said, as ethnographers we must "deal with three

fundamental aspects of human experience: what people do, what people know, and the

things people make and use" (Spradley 1980:5). I would add to that and suggest we must

also deal with where people live.

Table 1-1. Events Timeline
1879 Arrival of North Carolina fishermen to Hunters Point (later named Cortez)
1888 Cortez Post Office opens
1920s Stop-netting introduced
1921 Hurricane
Neriah Taylor establishes boat building operation
1930s Depression
1940s Tink Fulford builds fish house
1950s Legislature outlaws stop netting
Outboard motors introduced
1960s Local ordinances appear that outlaw fishing in subdivision canals
Nylon nets introduced
Organized Fishermen of Florida (OFF) is created
1970s "Kicker" boats introduced
Blue Fulford becomes president of OFF
Drug smuggling is at its peak
First resistance to condominium development
1980s Florida Marine Fisheries Commission (FMFC) created
Cortez designated historic village by County
Florida Conservation Association formed
Cortez Village Historical Society (CVHS) formed
Resistance to Chris Craft marina successful
1t annual Cortez seafood festival
1991 Coast Guard razes historic Albion Inn
Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage (FISH) formed
1992 Cortez Maritime Center plans developed
Cortez fieldwork begins in January
Cortez Bridge removed from five year plan in February.
Save our Sealife campaign begins to collect signatures for ballot referendum
Professional Fisheries Conservation Coalition (PFCC)formed in December
1993 Save our Seafood campaign initiated by OFF in January
Save our Sealife campaign collects enough signatures for ballot referendum
Cortez fieldwork ends in July
1994 Peter Matthiessen visits Cortez in September
Net Ban forum held at University of Florida on November 3rd
Net Ban Amendment passes November 8h
1995 Hired by South Atlantic Fishery Management council
Cortez listed as National Historic District
Net ban becomes effective in July
1998 Hired Florida Fishing Communities project
1999 Cortez designated Waterfronts Florida community
2004 Dissertation Defense

Certainly, the context in which people do the things they do, what they know and

the objects they make and use are important aspects of any ethnography. Those who rely

upon natural resources for their livelihood are inextricably tied to a particular place or a

particular type of place. When that place, landscape or environment begins to change,

there is set in motion a process of adaptation that may ignore, embrace or resist that

change. Because natural resources are in a continuous state of fluctuation, residents of

natural resource-dependent communities are often adapting to resource availability and

seasonal variations which make adapting to change part of their daily lives. But when

those changes become as intrusive as to threaten an individual's livelihood and force one

to question one's own identity, as with the net ban campaign, resistance should not be

unexpected. However, resistance for individuals who live in natural resource

communities may be more than a reaction to certain circumstances; it may be an integral

part of their culture. Therefore, acts of resistance become adapted to the circumstances

and are not newly adopted forms of behavior.

Overall, this research is what Agar calls, "an exploration into humanscapes,"

finding out where people live, who they are and how they live (Agar 1986:12). It is

intended to show the interrelationship among resistance to change, reliance upon natural

resources and identity. In doing so, it is proposed that this research will provide a unique

perspective that builds upon previous research within each of these fields by identifying

the important links between them. Furthermore, it is hoped that this research will also

complement other anthropological and related research conducted among fishermen and

their communities in the United States and other parts of the world.

Overview of Chapters

Chapter 2 provides a review of a wide range of literature on community, tourism,

political economy and ecology, social justice and cultural resistance. Furthermore,

articles that tie several of these themes together are included to help emphasize the

relationship among these different topics and their connectedness. The community

literature covers topics such as defining community, the role of place and place

attachment, with a special emphasis upon natural resource dependent communities. The

next area of interest examines the larger issue of tourism and its impact worldwide,

including case examples of the more immediate impact upon coastal communities that are

often tourist destinations and may have particular ties to fishing. Included in the literature

on political economy and ecology are several case studies of power struggles that come

with economic and ecological change. These articles illustrate the impact of growth and

the economic power that it can generate. Furthermore, specific examples of the power

struggles that ensue over ecological change and the importance of knowledge and how

that knowledge is defined are included to help demonstrate the similarities between these

case examples and Cortez.

Both the natural environment and social environment are the subjects of Chapter

3. The important ecosystems along Florida's coast that provide habitat for those species

of fish essential to both the commercial and recreational sectors are described. Of

particular importance are descriptions of Sarasota Bay and the important habitat and fish

species in that local ecosystem that surrounds Cortez. A brief history and discussion of

marine fisheries regulation are also integrated into this discussion. The social

environment is described using demographics for the state, the county and Cortez. Key

indicators of change, like population and other data from both the historic and more

recent census, are included. Much of the data in this chapter relate to Cortez prior to the

net ban. More recent data are presented in Chapter 7 in the conclusion.

A condensed history of Cortez is provided in Chapter 4 that traces the area's

development from prehistory to the present. The historical fishing endeavors by

Timucuans and Tocobago to the Cubans and finally to the North Carolina immigrants is

chronicled in this chapter. Early descriptions of tourists and tourism are also included.

The majority of the village history is derived from two local histories that have been

published and oral histories conducted by me during my time in the village.

Chapter 5 describes the culture within a natural resource community. A

description of the inshore net fishery provides a closer look at the everyday life and the

seasonal round of the small-scale gill net fisherman. Descriptions of boats, gear and

methods of fishing are included along with how fishermen develop traditional skills and

utilize space. Through the use of informant mapping I describe commonly known fishing

locations, each with its own history and lore. Related to that is a discussion of local

knowledge of the environment and its utility. Finally, the chapter contains a discussion

of the kinship ties within the community and how some areas become designated as

sacred because of their association with kin and/or events that are important to the

folkways of a fishing community.

There are three critical areas that I explore in Chapter 6. The first is the

importance of image and how both commercial fishermen and their detractors use image

to help define their identity and the identity of others. The second is class and power and

how it differs among those who are working class and those who are not. Included is a

discussion of how different views of knowledge and science can further differentiate

between them. The chapter concludes with a discussion of both the formal and informal

resistance that I found in Cortez and the important consequences that resistance can have

in the face of change.

In Chapter 7, the Epilogue and Conclusion, I examine how tourism, through its

subtle and not so subtle ways, has affected each of the key facets of culture and social

interaction in this natural resource community. The successful campaign to remove nets

from state waters and its impact are discussed, with events just prior to the vote on the

ballot initiative shortly after my leaving the village of Cortez of particular interest.

Finally, an examination of mitigation by the state is also reported with a discussion of the

only pre-net ban/post-net ban research conducted among fishermen and their families

(Smith et al. 2003).

Anthropological Fieldwork and Advocacy

One common problem that anthropologists face as they conduct fieldwork is their

own involvement in their research. The very nature of ethnography lends itself to a

whole host of problems and issues that have caused a critique of the very nature of the

enterprise and discipline (Marcus and Fisher 1986). However, anthropologists have long

recognized the difficulties of working and living among those who they study and the

implications of living in another culture (Powdermaker 1966).

I became much more involved in many different village activities once accepted

as a member of the community. As mentioned before, I was an active member of the

organization FISH. I became secretary, developed their first newsletter, and was

involved in grant writing and working on grants. I served on the Seafood Festival

committee and worked the festival. I was going out on boats with the fishermen of the

village. Moreover, I attended family gatherings and celebrations and became a regular

fixture at a couple of households. These are necessary measures for participant

observation and ethnography. Even so, it is hard to separate your life from your research

when you become so closely involved with the people you study. I have made some

lifelong friends during the course of this research. I worked hard to help them realize

some of their ideas for a better community. In some cases, we were successful and in

others, we were not I have chosen not use pseudonyms, as many people in the village

are eager to see what I have written. I have tried to protect identities but most of those

who are knowledgeable will be able to discern an individual's character from the context.

I hope that I have not offended anyone, as it was not my intention to do so. Although my

participation may have influenced my research, my involvement also provided me with

unparalleled access to a way of life that would not be accessible otherwise. I was

accepted as part of the community, but my status as outsider allowed me to gain the

confidence of many different factions within the community. Most community members

considered my work and research to be a benefit for the community and not so much as

an advocate for the commercial fishing industry.

My involvement and close association with the community of Cortez included

taking part in their resistance to the net ban campaign. I chose to do so not because I was

a resident in their community or friend to so many, I did so because I considered the

proposed amendment to be bad policy for fisheries management and a social injustice. I

wrote editorials against the campaign to ban nets and was instrumental in bringing Peter

Matthiessen to Cortez to speak against the net ban. After leaving the village, I continued

to write editorials in the local paper and was also active in organizing a forum on the

issue at the University of Florida.

Although I did not support the net ban and was a vocal opponent, I tried to make

my argument as balanced as possible. In many letters to the editor, I tried to point out the

discrepancy in many arguments for the net ban and tried to present information to support

my argument. Nevertheless, I was marked as an opponent to the net ban, a position that

was questioned later when the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council decided to

interview me for a position on their staff. During my interview, I explained how I

considered such a policy a bad precedent for managing fisheries, as the political nature of

such an amendment did not allow for impartial debate over the issues. Furthermore, I

anticipated that the commercial fishing industry would suffer a social injustice as a result

It seems my response was acceptable because the council hired me and I served on the

staff for four years.

The ideal of objectivity is a difficult one to achieve and some have raised the

question as to whether it is achievable at all (Bernard 1988). Yet, striving to be as

objective as possible may be all we can do. However, presenting all sides of an issue like

the net ban is almost impossible. Therefore, presenting a subjective look of one

perspective while recognizing other views is what I have attempted. All in all, I believe

my stance against the net ban was a subjective one and not one of bias.

I have tried to present these people and their community in a fair and unbiased

fashion, yet my own ties to the community places me in a position that makes it difficult

to be critical. In the end, I hope that I have been able to provide a piece of research that

may be subjective in its approach, but provides a viewpoint that otherwise would not be


heard. As an anthropologist, I believe it is critical to our discipline to be able to provide

these subjective looks at a culture and offer them for critique. We may then decide the

validity of the view presented, but most importantly, we offer a forum for those voices

that we do not always hear.

In his essay, "Land and Word: American Pastoral," William Howarth (1995)

describes a common theme of pastoralism in American literature in which many writers

describe a peaceful and comforting countryside and long for a less complicated rural way

of life. He further conveys the contradiction that is often found between embracing

modernity and holding to this ideal of a simpler rural existence. He points out that

Americans, throughout their history, have held onto the myth of an agrarian lifestyle.

Yet, by rapidly modifying the landscape through migration, urban growth, and

technological change, Americans have transformed their land into something other than

the pastoral paradise so commonly coveted in the literature. Nonetheless, the sense that

America is "Nature's nation" continues today with an increasing number of those who

identify with the environment, the landscape, and long for that simpler rural life. A rural

life that purportedly offers serenity and calm, in sharp contrast to the more common

hectic urban existence lived by the majority of Americans.

This longing for a "place" and the surrounding landscape is understandable

considering that as one grows up in a particular geographical locale one becomes familiar

with the place names and stories about those who came before. Those names and stories

later become the legend, the myth, the history and part of the memory of that "place."

The idea that we have a "place" within the landscape with which we identify, provides a

certain security that we belong somewhere. Longing for that place is often a longing for

the past; a past that might seem a simpler more pleasant life, in light of the fact that most

of us have chosen a more itinerant lifestyle in a decidedly less rural environment.

The idea that we can attribute a "sense of community" to a specific geographical

locale and pattern of settlement has been an enduring viewpoint within the social

sciences. Redfield's (1947) "folk society" and Wirth's (1938) "urbanism as away of

life" are early examples that have generated considerable debate over attributing life-style

characteristics to a rural or urban way of life (Summers and Branch 1984). These early

attempts to determine how people live by where they live have been challenged as the

rural-urban continuum has become much less distinct and a "sense of community" can be

found at both ends of the continuum. However, Summers and Branch do point out that

"territorially bounded populations do manifest measurably different life-styles" which are

important with regard to how they adapt to change (1984:158).

Figure 2-1. Cortez, Florida and Surrounding Communities.

Cortez survives in that transitional place where urban and rural have assimilated

and where sea meets land. The spread of fast developing growth from Bradenton is

obscuring the division that once separated Cortez from the rest of the metropolitan area

(Figure 2-1). The many strip malls and businesses along Cortez Road are an indication of

the growing reality that few beachgoers today are aware that the road they travel is

named after the fishing village that was formerly the destination.

The community of Cortez, like so many others that were first settled in a frontier

environment, still conveys the ideal of a simpler rural lifestyle; a lifestyle that seems in

direct contrast to the urban sprawl and coastal change that is largely fueled by tourism

development along Florida's coasts. That same rural ideal has shaped the identity of this

community and many of its longtime residents, an identity that is often as contradictory

as is the belief in a rural lifestyle that may no longer exist.

Important questions emerge from Howarth's (1995) essay concerning the

contradiction of seeking a pastoral life and the reality of a rapidly changing and, more

often than not, urban life. Questions such as: What is community today and how does it

compare to community of the past? If the rich are searching for a pastoral lifestyle, what

happens when they find it, or try to recreate it, in areas populated by those who have

traditionally resided in rural areas and are not rich? What happens when these two

different groups come together and how do these differing perspectives of a pastoral life

contribute to the potential for conflict?

These questions are important because the definition of rural has changed. It has

been defined, for some time, in contrast to what it is not-urban. The dividing line

between what is rural and what is urban has become much less clear as they become less

geographically discrete. Furthermore, the concept of community has changed and the

traditional view of a small, close-knit, cohesive community with shared values may not

be as pervasive as it once was. Finally, the life-style associated with such communities

has also changed as those in rural areas engage in similar consumption patterns as the

larger society regarding dress, leisure, eating and shopping habits (Fitchen 1991).

Many issues permeate and surround the question of what defines a community

today, especially in Florida and especially for coastal communities. They include

tourism, political economy and ecology, social justice, cultural resistance and identity. I

attempt to tie these themes together by emphasizing the relationship among these

different topics and their connectedness. Because each topical areas has an abundance of

its own theoretical literature, I have chosen material to reflect that which is most relevant

to the task of blending these different themes in the context of what has taken place in

Cortez. I begin with a discussion of what "community" means and the recent debate that

has surrounded the changing notion of the term.

What is Community?
The question "What is Community?" is important since it could be argued that the

Cortez of today is not a community in the traditional sense. Some might say that it has

become incorporated within the Bradenton-Sarasota metropolitan area; as its own

political unit, it does not exist. It is not an incorporated municipality and its governance

falls under county jurisdiction and decisions concerning zoning and essential services are

determined by the Manatee County Commission. Although it is defined as a Census

Designated Place, its population of over 4,000 includes many individuals that the

majority of Cortesians would not consider part of their community. Therefore, it seems

necessary to examine how community is defined and under what circumstances does

Cortez meet the criteria of community.

The term community has become ubiquitous throughout not only the social science

literature, but also throughout that of the natural sciences (Lumpen Society 1997). With

such common usage, a widely accepted definition of the term would seem likely.

However, a debate such as that over the virtues of a liberal concept of community versus

the communitarian concept attest to the numerous variations in defining community, as

well as, the moral assumptions that may come with the use of any individual definition

(Etzioni 1996; Silk 1999; Smith 1999; Tisdell 1997). The debate is important because it

underlines pivotal assumptions about how community might be defined and how

individuals view and construct their community. The communitarian community is a

geographical place in which individuals have close ties and daily face-to-face interaction.

The liberal community, on the other hand, is not necessarily confined to a specific locale

and interaction between members can take place over the internet. In addition, the debate

brings into question how attached people are to a geographic locale in today's society,

given the increased mobility that has come with advances in transportation and increasing

prosperity with the global economy.

Today's job seekers, retirees, and others are more than willing to give up their natal

homes and seek community elsewhere. In doing so, they give up a certain security or

familiarity that comes with their traditional residence. On the other hand, they may

welcome a new and different social network, especially if they felt constrained or

oppressed by the old. In any case, new social networks and relationships must be formed

when establishing community in another locale. Community attachment is no longer a

product of long associations with extended kin and friends spread over a familiar

geographic area, but formed with others who have similar interests and are recent

acquaintances in an unfamiliar landscape. These new communities of association and

choice championed by the liberal theorists have transformed the backdrop of community

research and fuel an ongoing debate over the future state of community (Brint 2001).

The idea that community is in decline seems to be a widely held belief and is the

impetus for the continued debate over its constitution. The decline is most often ascribed

to what might be called the "traditional" form of community, or community of place.

The recent discussion between the communitarian and liberal theorists focuses on the

impact of increasing individual rights and its effect upon society and community over the

past several decades. As stated earlier, for communitarians, community is more place-

based and family oriented, dependent upon the face-to-face interaction on a daily basis.

For liberal theorists, community can be formed by individuals seeking "communities of

choice," which are not necessarily place-based and may include virtual communities, or

those that are based on association rather than face-to-face interaction (Silk 1999; Smith

1999). In general, communitarians tend to reinforce boundaries around communities,

while the liberal theorist supports the free movement in and out of community


Etzioni (1996) claims that increased emphasis upon individual rights has slowly

eroded the basis for community allowing for less accountability by individuals toward

society and the common good. Some have pointed out the moral assumptions imbedded

within the communitarian argument, that community in and of itself has a beneficial

moral quality in any state (Smith, D.M. 1999; Tisdell 1997). That moral quality is

subject to dispute as liberal theorists point to historical forms of oppression within

traditional communities (Silk 1999; Smith, D.M. 1999). Without increased individual

rights, communities could and have maintained structural inequalities and oppressive

policies toward minorities and others (Smith, D.M. 1999). Finally, Bellah et al. (1985)

summarize well the conflict within American society with its strong sense of

individualism and the ongoing struggle with a sense of commitment to the larger society,

the dialectic of private and public life.

Champlin (1997) maintains that there has been a long history of the idea that the

liberal view of community fits well into laissez fire economics. The liberal ideal seems

to conclude that the best way to restore community is for individuals working in their

own interests to produce the "most efficient and prosperous economy.. .the most civil and

coherent community" (Champlin 1997:575). Champlin contends that the liberal view is

flawed and cannot restore community. He emphasizes the need to form a common

ground and unity within community, traits which the liberal ideal cannot attain as it

divides rather than unifies with its emphasis on the individual and volunteerism

(Champlin 1997).

Although there is validity to both arguments the debate has prompted some to steer

away from either view of community in order to resolve the impasse. The argument over

what is community has been criticized for focusing on too narrow a debate over a non-

existent idyllic form and/or the deconstruction of that form (Lumpen Society 1997).

Furthermore, recent calls to restore community seem flawed as long as there is an attempt

to recreate that idyllic form which no longer exists. It is maintained that community is

process: community is art and citizens are artists or the vice versa, both dependent upon

one another. What evolves is an ever-changing expression of community (Lumpen

Society 1997).

Whatever the form or expression of community, important distinctions are made

between the two ends of the continuum. Although they may share many characteristics,

communities of association do not have the close attachment to a geographical locale nor

the intimate knowledge of the landscape that comes from the long-term association found

in traditional place-based communities. Those who live in communities of association

may place their loyalties elsewhere, like their natal homes to which they still feel some

sentimental ties. Their commitment to their new settlement may be solely to protect a

monetary investment, rather than a heritage. Traditional place-based communities, on the

other hand, do not allow easy movement across boundaries and can be stifling by

requiring conformity to an arcane way of life or mores associated with it.

When Wilkinson (1991) reviewed community definitions he found three critical

elements that were common in most "conventional" definitions: a) a locality, or where

people live and meet their daily needs; b) a local society, that emerges where people

strive to meet common needs and express common interests; and c) a process of locality-

oriented collective actions that is a mechanism to express mutual interests in the local

society that are not driven by self-interest, but rather are for the good of the local society.

Wilkinson sees locality as extremely important for a definition of community, especially

when considering rural communities. He emphasizes the importance of locality in

providing a place for social interaction that builds identity and meaning for individuals

over time. However, it is the interactions that define that territory, not the reverse

(Wilkinson 1991).

Territory is important for most communities, but for communities like Cortez that

are dependent upon natural resources it has particular importance. Fishing communities

are especially tied to their locality because of the safe harbor often afforded the fleet and

its proximity to the resource. There is also a certain awareness of the landscape and

seascape that become a necessary part of traditional knowledge of local fishermen. That

knowledge, passed down from generation to generation becomes linked to other facets of

community that also play an important role in its definition. There is a legacy that ties

together both the local geography and occupational tradition (Flora et al. 1992).

In a broader examination of the symbols of community, Goudy's (1990) study of

community attachment of fairly homogeneous regions showed substantial difference in

community attachment that was strongly related to length of residence, age and income.

Surprisingly, population size and density were weakly correlated to community

attachment (Goudy 1990). Brown (1993) discovered that community satisfaction and

attachment are not strongly related to local economic or demographic characteristics. In

his study of two rural Missouri communities, he found that participation in the larger

consumer economy has lessened the importance of in-shopping, local employment and

other variables previously thought to be important to community attachment and

satisfaction. In fact, those who work outside the study communities were the most

satisfied. These findings, along with others (Pinkerton et al. 1995), suggest a greater than

ever impact on rural communities with regard to participation in a consumer economy

and the changing functions within the local community. Further research and

development efforts may need to focus the changing role of place as a positive

community experience and change in certain functions of social life within rural

communities (Brown 1993).

It is this attachment to place that becomes essential for defining community for Hay

(1998). Examining residents' rooted sense of place, Hay sees a changing perception of

community that is tied directly to modernization and an increasingly mobile society. For

community to survive, that rooted sense of place needs to be restored to allow for the

necessary moral and ethical relationships to develop between sustainable communities

and their resources (Hay 1998).

Platt (1991) goes further to emphasize the important role that place has for identity

formation, even for those who have left their natal homes. While she suggests that

community is no longer defined only by residence, "place becomes both a portable and

necessary symbol of identity for those who leave and a valuable form of symbolic capital

for those who stay" (1991:106).

Attachment to place is certainly an important part of any "sense of community."

However, it seems evident that certain behavior that once was considered part of that

attachment like shopping or working within the community, may no longer need to be

considered requisite. Yet, for the "sense of community" to survive it seems obvious that

residents must exhibit some attachment to place through other symbolic behaviors to

establish those moral and ethical relationships to which Hay (1998) refers.

This is significant with regard to natural resource communities and fishing

communities like Cortez. There is a strong feeling of sense of place in Cortez and tied to

that are important moral and ethical relationships. Those morals and ethics are rooted in

a more traditional and somewhat rural culture; one that stresses hard work, strong ties to

extended family and a deep-seated belief in the ability of God or Mother Nature to take

care of herself thereby providing the necessary balance between fish and fisherman for a

sustainable stock.

The urban-rural continuum is important to consider because Cortez is perceived by

residents to be rural in its character. Although a blurring of the line between the rural-

urban continuum was mentioned previously, Bell (1992) has found that it is still a viable

concept and provides an important source for identity for those living in the country.

Furthermore, Bradshaw (1993) sees the rural-urban continuum as having significant

importance for the rural development paradigm as the global economy redefines cities

and creates rural regions. He emphasizes the need to form multi-jurisdictional networks

where several rural communities may work together to solve problems that could not be

resolved alone 03(Bradshaw 1993).

The continued growth of urban areas has had significant impact upon rural

communities. Previous assumptions about many characteristics of rural communities

have changed as behaviors, attitudes and perceptions of those living in rural communities

are also transformed with a global economy and an ever-changing landscape. This has

important implications for rural development as mentioned previously. Wilkinson (1986)

sees rurality as an important challenge to community development in that preserving a

community's rurality should be paramount.

Overall, the above literature suggests a changing form and perception of

community that finds traditional place-based communities struggling to survive. The

debate over the communitarian and liberal theories of community focuses upon an

important difference between the two forms that is germane to Cortez and it

surroundings. Cortez is very much a place-based and traditional community with a

decidedly rural character. It is increasingly surrounded, however, by communities of

choice and association, of urban character, which include both retirement and destination


Wilkinson's (1991) community is an ecological community that is place-based and

is compatible with most definitions of natural resource dependent communities, like

Cortez. It does not necessarily contrast with communities of choice, but feelings of

attachment to communities of choice are derived from an entirely different process. The

key here is the important link to the environment that is found with communities that are

dependent upon natural resources and how that link is tied to a sense of community and

attachment to place. These communities are place-based and also have long histories of

resource extraction creating a legacy that influences the identity and social life of its


Natural Resource-Dependent Communities

With the exception of modem planned communities, most communities were

dependent upon natural resources early in their development. In the United States the

industrial revolution brought about a rather marked change as urban areas grew and

became more focused upon manufacturing and servicing markets leaving fewer

communities directly dependent upon extraction of natural resources. Nevertheless, there

are many that continue to depend upon agriculture, forestry, mining and fishing.

Natural resource-dependent communities are typified by large fluctuations in

economic prosperity. This is partially due to the fact that the availability of the resource

itself is naturally cyclical, especially for fishing communities. These may be seasonal

variations in resource availability or may be longer-term fluctuations due to

environmental or man-made calamity. In either case, the community must endure the

absence of important economic resources as a result. These fluctuations of prosperity

among natural resource dependent communities have often generated high rates of

poverty, which tend to confine residents, in that the lack of resources offers few options

for leaving (Freudenburg and Gramling 1994; Nord 1994; Peluso et al. 1994). Krannich

and Zollinger (1997) created a typology of resource-dependent areas based upon

observed patterns of resource-based economic activity. The four typologies: sustained,

cyclical, transitional, and declining, exhibit the multifaceted nature of resource dependent

areas and important differences in the development potential for each type (Krannich and

Zollinger, 1997). In their study of seven resource-dependent communities, Force et al.

(2000) found that it was broad societal trends followed by local historical events that

explained most of the variation in dimensions of community social change such as size

and structure. Overall, local resource production explained little when combined with

other "engines of change."

Gale (1991) also developed a classification scheme to sort out the various types of

resource dependent coastal communities and to understand the impacts of the "growth

machine." The classification, Natural Resource Manufacturing and Administration (NR-

MAN) coastal community, in which the economic base revolves around the exploitation

of water-based natural resources is an apt description of the category of coastal

community that Cortez would exemplify. Especially noteworthy to Gale's discussion is

the impact of"gentrification" as when a "second-generation growth machine" appears

within coastal communities. Often made up of nonlocals and having stronger links to

external capital markets, this new growth machine tends to disrupt the old power

structure and displaces established, less powerful residents. This coastal gentrification is

typical along the United States coast and has the potential to transform a NR-MAN

community's dependence to an entirely different resource base, thereby displacing

commercial fishermen.

Dyer et al. (1992) define a natural resource community as one where there is "a

population of individuals living within a bounded area whose primary cultural existence

is based upon the utilization of renewable natural resources." These communities have a

necessary link between biological cycles within the physical environment and socio-

economic interactions within the community. Important social activities or events may

be tied to the migration patterns or seasonal harvest of resources.

Initially, there was a bias toward land-based investigations into communities and

natural resources (Harris and Vanderpool 1992). But that changed as more and more

people became interested in the environment and began looking at the ocean and its

watery resources as an important part of the ecology of the planet. For fishermen in

particular, adaptation to working on the water has important implications (Acheson 1981;

Norr and Norr 1978). Long periods of time away from home and working on an unstable

platform are two aspects of fishing that differ from most land-based occupations.

Furthermore, there are the necessary support activities that take place on land to support

the activity on the water. The important ties to the physical environment dictate

occupational participation, structures community interaction and define social values for

those living in natural resource communities. Unlike other communities, like

communities of association, social life within most natural resource communities is more

determined by cycles of resource availability. Furthermore, it is difficult to plan when so

much depends upon an unpredictable resource.

In contrast to other studies that focus on the occupational culture of fishing, Smith

and Hanna (1993) examine how community factors can differentiate behavior of

fishermen. Their study of the West Coast trawl fishery in Oregon analyzed community as

a determinant of cultural behavior and found that face-to-face interactions characteristic

of community life facilitated the transfer of ideas which then influenced patterns of trawl

fishing (Smith and Hanna 1993). The idea that individual fishing communities develop

distinct cultural characteristics is an important finding that demonstrates there can be

considerable variation among specialized natural resource communities.

Chekki (1997) notes that as a result of the impact that globalization of the economy

has had on both community and the environment there is a need for increased community

empowerment to ensure sustainable development. With the fast pace of globalization

there has been widespread destruction of the environment which disrupts communities

dependent upon natural resources. Often affected by multi-national corporations seeking

commodities for export, Chekki (1997) suggests that one answer to both resource and

community sustainability may be the empowerment of communities through grassroots

organization. In its fight to remain a sustainable community with its own identity, Cortez

has organized several grassroots efforts to survive and sustain a particular way of life.

There has been considerable thought given to the idea of "sustainable

communities." In that regard, it has been implied that only specific types of behavior

within a community or group of individuals, e.g., cooperation, may provide the

sustainability needed for survival of a community (Stark 1998). Furthermore, some have

suggested that communities can and may have lost their ability to cooperate that enables

them to function in a sustainable manner. Losing that ability to cooperate can negate the

benefits from development initiatives; consequently, making such communities the target

of redevelopment efforts may be unwise (Mulkey et al. 1993). However, understanding

how communities have lost the capacity to cooperate may require a broader analysis of

how such changes fit into the larger global economy and world political structure (Prattis


Finally, the idea that communities can begin a decline that could eventually end in

the death of a community is also a possibility (Gallaher and Padfield 1980). Many small

isolated rural communities have faced substantial changes in the advance of urbanization,

industrialization and bureaucratization. These challenges of modernity which bring

changes in technology, transportation and communication have important implications

for communities like Cortez where most change has been controlled from within. But,

with increasing frequency, it is outsiders who begin to introduce and control the change.

Over time, the processes commonly used by locals begin to weaken and community

members begin to shift their loyalty from the specific locale and begin to focus on a

larger frame of reference (Gallaher and Padfield 1980:4). Additionally, as Clawson

(1980) points out, changes in the natural resource base will have long-lasting impacts

upon those communities dependent upon them. Whether natural resource dependent

communities are capable of making the transition to another economic base is always

uncertain as evidenced by Overbey's (1982) study of a coastal Georgia community and

the development of a naval base.

Cortez, like so many other commercial fishing villages in Florida, struggles to

maintain its working commercial waterfront amidst growing tourism development and

increasingly strict management of the natural resource base. It may no longer be a viable

fishing community, at least in the same sense that so many of its longtime residents

perceive it to be.

Tradition and Identity

As discussed earlier, the fishermen of Cortez have struggled with an unflattering

perception by others and have questioned their own identity as a result of that scrutiny.

Their image of themselves is steeped in the legendary independence often associated with

cowboys (Agar 1986) and heroes who settle on the margins of society (Bellah et al.

1985). That image fits nicely with the recurring theme of independence in American lore

summarized by Bellah et al.:

A deep and continuing theme in American literature is the hero who must leave
society, alone or with one or a few others, in order to realize the moral good in the
wilderness, at sea or on the margins of settled society (Bellah et al.1985:144).

Nevertheless, this is not the image that most Floridians have of fishermen, or their

communities. The growing population along Florida's coasts has brought significant

development and a rapidly changing landscape. Such rapid change often weakens or

eliminates the social patterns established from the old "traditions," and new traditions

appear (Hobsbawm 1983). While commercial fishing of modern day Cortesians hardly

resembles the commercial fishing of their forefathers, they still claim this heritage and

tradition. And as the community has changed dramatically over the years it certainly

bears little resemblance to the isolated community of the past Yet, Cortesians cling to

that past and attempt to recreate the social gatherings that were an integral part of their

childhood and institutionalize them by holding a recurring "Native's Picnic" and "fish

frys" every year. These references to the past are important as the repetitive tradition

becomes an important event symbolizing social cohesion and membership in a

community. Furthermore, although these invented traditions may not genuinely reflect

the past, their purpose may have a political purpose and will often appear at times when

there is social disruption and social ties are weak (Hobsbawm 1983).

Identity becomes a symbol that is offered in many ways to explain who and what

Cortez embodies. The symbols are gatherings like the native's picnic or the fish frys

where community members come together to share food and music. Cortez is a fishing

community that becomes symbolized through the common food that is shared which was

most often mullet. Part of that identity is also the close kinship ties that become

expressed through family gatherings but also through recounting the history of the village

and its settlement by five families from North Carolina, both through oral tradition and

documented history. However, although these symbols are generally agreed upon, some

may find discrepancies within the recounting of history or its documentation. And while

solidarity is an important aspect of sharing an identity, there often remains some discord

within the group.

Li (1996) examined the different images of community that became apparent

through the struggle over resources. It is often through the exercise of 'practical political

economy' that these different images are contrasted within the larger society. The image

of community as consensus and sustainability is often successfully used by those who

advocate 'community based resource management' (Li 1996:503). But it is also the case

that some definitions of community can misrepresent current natural resource use

systems and exclude those who may need access the most (Li 1996). The changing

image of community is at the heart of Tauxe's (1998) examination of small town identity.

It seems that earlier images of community promoted by the local Chambers of Commerce

included ideals of solidarity and local identity. Economic restructuring due to a changing

economy brought a new emphasis upon a more nationally recognized myth of rural life

and the connection between local and national levels of production (Tauxe 1998). Such a

shift away from local identity is important, as residents must then reassess their own

identity. Such was the case described by LiPuma (1992) as Galician fishermen resisted

joining the European Community. Through their resistance they were able to modify the

transition to a fully rationalized fishery and its institutions of management while

maintaining some remnants of their previous social identity.

Fitzgerald (1993) illustrates the important role of the culture-communication

dialogue in forming and maintaining identities. Through the use of metaphor, identity

becomes an image of self-within-context. As context changes, so does the image and

eventually identity. Moving from one context to another it becomes necessary to project

that image for others to comprehend. Therefore the ability to communicate an image one

wishes to maintain becomes essential. When there is ambivalence about one's identity

others may impose their image of self-in-context. Therefore, the media as a primary

source of communication becomes increasingly important in shaping these images.

For the fishermen and their families of Cortez, the image of hard-working, self-

sufficient, independent people was not the image that most Floridians would recognize.

In fact, as suggested in earlier research, fishing folk in Florida were not perceived as

being the independent and positive image of cowboy, but that of outlaw, which in turn,

prompted fishing families to begin using the metaphor of Indians from the Wild West,

suggesting they were being pushed off their native lands into reservations surrounded by

foreigners (Smith and Jepson 1993).

Tourism: its Promise and its Presence

Tourism has evolved into one of the most profound agents of global change since

the last world war. Today, tourists can travel to any corner of the globe and observe any

landscape and/or people with relatively few inconveniences. The tourism industry has

become an "amicable" conqueror with its almost troop-like movement of people around

the earth and destinations that resemble luxurious enclosures surrounded by privation.

There is a fervor with which tourism has been pursued to redress the economic woes of

the world. The promise of economic redevelopment by increasing the tourist dollar has

been a common proposition with varied results. What has been surprising is that, at

times, it has been perceived as having benign impacts, even though it often encompasses

tremendous growth and holds potential for considerable change.

Only within the last three decades have social scientists begun to seriously examine

tourism and its varied impacts. Some concentrated on the beneficial impacts that tourism

brought to the hosts and guests (Rothman 1978; Milman and Pizam 1988), but others

examined the sometimes hidden liabilities of rapid growth and large scale development

that tourism can bring about (Greenwood 1972; McGoodwin 1986).

Tourism has received mixed reviews from social scientists that have often been

critical of constant growth and development at the expense of those who endure at the

lower levels of the social stratum (Crick 1989; Nash 1989). However, others have used a

more holistic approach that offers a comprehensive view of this phenomenon called


What is Tourism?

Jonathon Urry (1990) contends that the purpose of tourism is to gaze upon or view

a different landscape, townscape, or way of life (culture). He states that each touristic

view presupposes its opposite and is organized in such a manner as to separate work and

leisure. The tourist, of course wants to be as far away as possible from work. Boorstin

(1964) calls it a 'pseudo event' created for the tourist who is encapsulated in an

environmental bubble which shelters them from the real world; again, that real world

which may include work. MacCannell (1973) sees all tourists as being on a quest for

authenticity and what they find is "staged authenticity." This develops not from an

individuated search for authenticity, but by the social relations that evolve between the

tourist and the observed. Crick (1989) argues that all culture is staged. There seems to

be in all forms of tourism some negotiation between what is real and what is not. Part of

the lure is to "get away from it all."

Urry (1990) suggests that the places gazed upon often contrast with paid organized

work. Tourism offers an out of the ordinary element with professionals who create and

arrange an ever-changing hierarchy of objects to be gazed upon. Tourists wish to view an

illusion of paradise, one that fits their own conception. Although, MacCannell sees some

fascination with other's workplaces as tourist attraction and refers to it as 'alienated

leisure' (1976).

For Graburn (1989) tourism is a transition from Durkheim's Sacred to the profane -

the sacred being the non-ordinary experience or tourism. The movement from the realm

of the profane work-a-day world to the sacred non-ordinary world is filled with feelings

of excitement and ambivalence. The basic motivation for tourism according to Grabumrn

is re-creation.

Tourism has increasingly become important to those who live in industrialized

nations. The Protestant work ethic is no longer the accepted value norm. Vacations are

an expected annual ritual that can be analyzed as such (Grabumrn 1989). Tourism depends,

in a large part, upon the existence of leisure time and discretionary income and positive

local sanctions. With the advent of large scale tourism there also may transpire a transfer

of control from the local level to the federal or international level that resembles a form

of imperialism when control is taken over by outsiders (Nash 1989).

The above review raises important concerns for communities like Cortez, which are

surrounded by tourism. Tourism by its very nature has a tendency to transform those that

become gazed upon. Those with sufficient leisure and discretionary income encourage

newer and more exciting views upon which to gaze. The tourism professional then seeks

these new, out of the ordinary, experiences and markets them to the tourist. In the

process, commercial fishermen, who may or may not be out of the ordinary, must be

sanitized to fit with the expectations of those of a different social class and geographical

locale. For fishing communities to take advantage of the economic prosperity that

tourism often promises, is to put themselves at great risk of being transformed


Rural communities have frequently suffered dramatic changes in character never

mentioned in the promised economic windfall from tourism development Increased

employment opportunities have frequently been low-paying service sector jobs which

contribute to the marginalizing of those who choose to remain in these often isolated

communities. Rising property values and taxes resulting from structural changes in the

economic base have serious impacts on traditional inhabitants of rural villages and towns

(Greenwood 1972; Smith and Jepson 1993). Outsiders from different geographical

regions and socioeconomic class are often able to acquire coastal property because local

residents are unable to afford the higher costs of living associated with tourism

development (Oliver-Smith et al.1989).

Rural coastal communities have been especially vulnerable to this "growth

machine" and process of gentrification. Because they live primarily on the coast,

commercial fishermen and their property have been frequent targets in the battle for

control over waterfront property. Because they often do not have the resources or skills

necessary to challenge their opponents, commercial fishermen often lose their battles to

maintain the continuity of their community or occupation (Gale 1991; Meltzoff 1989).

Furthermore, as documented by Kitner (1996) the promised economic windfall from

tourism does not always trickle down to those in the lower classes, like fishermen. In

fact, tourism development on Isla Margarita created new dichotomies of development

between the new and old, urban and rural and the rich and poor (Kitner 1996).

As elsewhere, the constant growth in tourism development along Florida's coast

over the past several decades has displaced commercial fishermen and their families from

their traditional communities. Because their numbers have been decreasing, they often

lose their voice in local governance and fisheries management which now threatens to

dislodge commercial fishermen from their customary place on the water (Smith and

Jepson 1993).

The Political: Economy and Ecology.

By its very nature ethnography places the anthropologist within a very small and

confined social system. Describing that system in detail can often de-emphasize the role

of the larger economy and history and their impact upon local life. Placing local subjects

within the context of a world economy and the development of capitalism is the essence

of the political economy approach within anthropology (Roseberry 1988). This is not

intended to oversimplify the scope of political economy, but more to emphasize the point

that the fishermen and residents of Cortez do participate and enjoy many of the products

of the larger capitalist economy within which they live. In turn, that same economy and

historical circumstance have played a role in their current situation.

From the beginning, anthropologists working within the political economy

framework have been concerned with the role of class, capitalism and power and their

effect upon local life. Also important has been the relationship to the means of

production (Roseberry 1988). The importance for fishermen, worldwide, has been a very

tenuous relationship to their means of production. Fishermen do not own land and

therefore have little control over access to the resource upon which they depend.

Fishermen may own their boat and fishing gear, but access to the resource is often

regulated by a complex set of laws that are in large part established by others; others who

are often of a different socio-economic class and status. This has created a rather

complicated relationship regarding control and ownership over the resource that becomes

coupled to class and power relationships, both within their own community and the larger

society, if not globally. This has been reflected in the study of common property

resources and the resulting dialogue on the true nature of fishermen's relationship to their

resource and a reexamination of Hardin's (1968) famous essay on the problem with

common property (McCay and Acheson 1987).

The work in political economy was naturally similar to much of that emerging out

of environmental anthropology and eventually political ecology. Political ecology

examines those structural relations of power with regard to access and domination of

natural resources (Scoones 1999). The term was first introduced by Wolf (1972) and has

since grown rapidly into a promising area of research of its own. However, some have

questioned whether or not many political ecologists have truly integrated the environment

into their research, focusing primarily on the political and ignoring the ecological (Vayda

and Walters 1999). Because the topics are so similar and they are so often intertwined, it

is difficult to distinguish the economically political from the ecologically political.

Nevertheless, work in both areas is important because class and power struggles are

always closely tied to access to and management of natural resources, including the

politics of place (Little 1999; Keith and Pile 1993).

Exploring some of the aforementioned similarities in approach, Ciccantell (1999)

combines both political economy and ecology to examine the consequences for rural

communities in the Brazilian Amazon when natural resources are defined in such manner

as to place those communities in competition with the national government and its

intention to exploit those resources through a global economy. When such a redefinition

of resources occurs, those in power repeatedly overlook the regional definitions, which

are often closely tied to communities and their access and use of resources. When rivers

were to have electro-hydraulic dams put in place the government was imposing

definitions of those resources that were more compatible with the powerful and

sometimes foreign competitors.

McGoodwin (1986) and McGuire (1983) have both examined the Mexican shrimp

fishery and find that world export markets have had significant impacts upon the rural

populace and generate conflict among the local users of the resource. Bailey et al. (1986)

has found that fisheries development is also driven by policy that favors urban elites and

is fashioned by national and international agencies. In Florida, some have pointed to the

important context of power relations between fishermen and the growth machine behind

tourism and a large global market (Johnson and Orbach 1990; Meltzoff 1989). Tourism

and global marketing of fisheries resources have both influenced fishermen's ability to

remain in their natal homes and to continue to remain in their occupation.

Cortez fishermen find themselves embroiled in struggles that encompass the global

market for mullet roe and other seafood, plus the power and politics of fishery

management at several levels of government. They resist the definition of fishery

resources as being more important economically if used by the recreational sector that is

gaining favor with some sportsmen and managers (Farren 1994). Their community is

under pressure from a tourism growth machine that places more emphasis upon

recreation than work. The ensuing power and political struggles are at all levels of

government and require them to become adept at challenging these new definitions of the


The Culture of Resistance

The idea of resistance has not been closely associated with fishermen and their

struggles to survive. Although, it is often mentioned in terms of their disdain for

regulatory procedure, the nature of resistance has not been fully explored. Much of the

discussion for resistance has centered on rebellion and indigenous or peasant movements.

However, these discussions are relevant to resistance by fishermen and their


Although present day fishermen of Cortez are not peasants by any means, it was

George Zarur's (1975) dissertation on the seafood gatherers of Mullet Springs that may

have first pointed to the similarities between these fishermen of Florida and peasants

elsewhere around the world (Zarur 1975). Scott (1985) pointed out that peasant rebellion

is seldom the large-scale insurrection that topples an unjust state. After all, the

subordinate classes rarely have the opportunity for well organized political opposition

and therefore resort to a much more subtle type of rebellion. He points to "everyday

forms of resistance" as being the preferred tool of peasants who struggle against those

who wish to "extract labor, food, taxes and rent from them." This type of "low-profile"

resistance consists of non-compliance, foot-dragging, evasion, or deception that takes

little organization, yet collectively can make a shambles of policies designed and

implemented by their antagonists. Best suited for the social structure of the peasantry,

these defensive campaigns of attrition fit well with the lack of formal organization and

rarely consist of outright confrontation. In fact, most acts of everyday resistance are done

quietly with little acknowledgment and are more apt to slowly nibble away at policies

through an extended, guerrilla-style campaign that is reinforced by a popular culture of

resistance that becomes part of every day life.

Peasants harbor a "deep sense of injustice" according to Wolf (1969) that has laid

the groundwork for many revolutions. That sense of injustice can often stem from an

infringement upon the traditional sentiment of a peasant's "right to subsistence" (Scott

1976). This infringement happens through some interference with their ability to subsist

through taxes, laws or access to land.

The idea of a "moral economy" or "right to subsistence" has also been applied to

fishermen here in the United States as described in Dyer and Moberg's (1992) discussion

of the Gulf of Mexico's shrimpers' fight over laws requiring the use of Turtle Excluder

Devices. They discuss the practices that shrimpers have developed in response to

mandated use of these devices. Sewing openings shut or dragging nets without TEDs

were common practices as shrimpers resisted the use of such devices claiming they lost

shrimp and were too costly.

McCay (1984) maintains that illegal fishing in New Jersey is cultural and tied to

historical disputes over property rights and enclosure of the marine commons that

eventually dispossesses the commoner. It continues with community consensus sustained

by a myth that state government discriminates against commercial fishermen. But,

Curcione (1992) has demonstrated that commercial fishermen should not be singled out

with regard to such activity as recreational fishermen also take part in such deviant


The idea that poaching is a "folk crime" persists according to Muth (1998) because

this type of crime tends not to violate public sentiments. Indeed, terminology that

characterizes those who poach, i.e., outlaw, pirates, bandits, has a somewhat more benign

meaning than terms like criminal and violator (Muth 1998:5). Theft of natural resources

is on the increase and yet the majority of North Americans seem ambivalent toward this

criminal activity, in part, because they see these protagonists as marginal to the larger

society and who possibly depend upon these resources to support their families and

traditional way of life (Muth and Bowe 1998:9).

In their research of poaching in Southwest Louisiana, Forsyth, Gramling, and

Wooddell (1998) see much of the rapid change in Louisiana as changing rural

populations as postindustrial values, often urban values, gain ascendancy. As values shift

long-term residents become classified as deviant for the illegal taking of natural resources

that were once considered legal.

Furthermore, the response by two Mexican fishing communities to regulations

imposed by outside interests according to Vasquez (1994) are similarly those of

avoidance, infringement of areal and seasonal closures, use of illegal gear, etc. She

concludes that this illegal activity is not merely methodological individualism and profit

maximization, but more collective action that weighs opportunity. She further suggests

such behaviors may exist in response to communal pressures and a lack of alternatives

(Vasquez 1994:78).

Many of these same behaviors can be found in Cortez. Fishermen regularly test the

limits of law enforcement by fishing in a manner that is or can be interpreted as being

illegal. Although it may be illegal, fishermen express a right to access to these resources.

Fish that were once available to them are now are inaccessible because of new

regulations which often favor landowners or recreational fishermen. Newly dredged

canals provide a haven for fish that never existed before and certain species have been

designated recreational take only by fishery management agencies. These new

circumstances seem wrong to most commercial fishermen who believe their traditional

use of these resources should be protected.

Fishermen from Cortez, like fishermen I have studied elsewhere, often develop

strategies to elude or challenge law enforcement. While conducting research on the

Texas Bay shrimpers, on one particular trip that I remember, fishermen were to catch

shrimp migrating out to sea from inland waters through the Intercoastal canal, in which it

was illegal to shrimp. That evening when it was dark, shrimpers traveled down the canal

and lined up to place their nets in the water. They radioed each other to ensure that the

local marine patrol or Coast Guard were not near. On our boat the net was hauled up

with its load of shrimp. The captain kept it hanging over the side of the boat so he could

quickly pull the rope around the codend and dump the contents if the marine patrol

suddenly appeared. Once at the dock, everyone worked at a fevered pitch to pack the

shrimp into a truck hidden away before law enforcement could show up.

Similar stories were often heard in Cortez. Fishermen would delight in telling

stories of enterprising exploits and close calls with law enforcement. When caught, they

would often challenge the case in court and frequently win or get by with minimal fines.

Wildlife law enforcement officials are often frustrated and share the above mentioned

concern about "folk crimes" as judges are reluctant to prosecute or impose large fines or

incarcerate fishermen. They view them as working class individuals and are hesitant to

make criminals out of them for violating resource laws.

Nevertheless, it does seem that not only in Cortez, but fishing communities overall,

there does seem to be a pervasive pattern of resistance to restricting access to natural

resources upon which they depend. Closely tied to that belief are feelings of injustice

when access is denied or restricted through regulation by fisheries management or other

regulatory agencies..

Social Justice

The emerging environmental justice framework in relation to community and

environmental risks has received considerable attention from social scientists (Perrole

1993). Within that body of literature important themes have evolved that are applicable

to natural resource communities and their struggles for redefinition of their resources

(Ciccantell 1999). The focus of the social justice and environment literature has been on

groups who have been unjustly exposed to environmental risks. Little has been written

concerning social justice in relation to access to natural resources. But, the issues are

closely tied, as the relations of power and class become inevitable focal points in the

discussions of both. In addition, the scientific discourse that accompanies those relations

is also an important focus because there is often a distinct difference in comprehension

and acceptance of the basic tenets of the underlying science (Durrenberger 1990; Paolisso


Natural resource dependent communities are often altered through development or

management changes that may not affect other communities that do not rely upon natural

resources. This special relationship to the environment is often unrecognized in many

development and management initiatives and can have dramatic impacts upon these

communities. Derman and Ferguson (1994) describe the impacts of tourism development

on a fishing community in Malawi, Africa. When a local hotel with new foreign

ownership desired to expand its operations, the entire village was evicted with the state's

approval. No relocation effort was made and most families relocated to an area that

offered poor access to resources and unhealthy living conditions. This is not a unique

occurrence and continues as large-scale development triumphs in the struggle with small

rural communities over access to resources (Derman and Ferguson 1994). Johnston

(1994) describes the conflict and subsequent impacts of "managed development" in the

Virgin Islands when islanders find themselves alienated from land and the sea. With the

strong influence of the North American tourism industry and growing development of the

coast, the term resource becomes redefined relative to science and management practices

also brought to the islands from North America (Johnston 1994).

Theoretical Themes

As I have mentioned there was no general theoretical perspective that guided my

research, however, it must be noted that in many respects the principal theoretical theme

is one of community. Community provides the primary framework for understanding all

other theoretical perspectives. Arensberg and Kimball (1965) referred to it as the "master

social system" or major link between culture and community. Whether it still remains as

that critical link is questionable. Today, with a global economy and communication we

have become a very mobile society more accustomed to virtual communities with few if

any ties to any particular geographic location and relationships based upon association

rather then face to face encounters. It is important to understand that as a natural

resource community Cortez becomes tied to a geographic locale which has important

implications as an ecological definition of community. It differs considerably from

communities surrounding it that are often communities of association where the residents

come together for recreation, leisure or retirement and do not have as long a history in

that location. Membership in a community of association is fluid and residents come and

go as long as they have the financial resources and are willing to abide by certain rules of

association, in some cases. Residents of Cortez, however, belong to a much more

structured group that often necessitates a kinship connection with others and possible

participation in some commercial fishing enterprise. In one sense it is an occupational

community where face to face encounters with a closely connected group happen daily

both at work and home. This does not mean that all residents are related or commercial

fishermen. Being part of the community of Cortez is more than just residing within the

village and being a fisherman. There is a shared sense of belonging and membership is

often gauged by willingness to participate in community events, the industry or at least be

supportive of commercial fishing.

Community becomes the primary social organization through which collective

solutions are pursued which in turn ensures survival of the group or community (Gallaher

and Padfield 1980). So, while Cortez is a geographically anchored place, it is also a

perceived place of shared belonging for a group of people. As mentioned earlier, that

group can extend well beyond the boundaries of the geographical location to include

those who have previously lived in Cortez or are connected through kinship. So,

membership in the community of Cortez is not necessarily as fluid as communities of

association, but it includes others who live outside of the geographical boundaries of the

natural resource dependent community. Yet, to be included one must share a sense of

belonging that may be tied to an historical association or shared belief in the survival of

the fishing community.

The literature on tourism is significant as Florida's economy is closely tied to the

revenue that is generated from the millions of visitors that come to the state each year,

especially coastal counties. Tourism development is often pursued to provide economic

stimulus or, as in the case of Cortez, it may also aid in educating the public. The primary

goal of the planned maritime center was to provide a forum to present informative

programs about commercial fishing and the history of the village. This certainly raises

important question about the relationship between host and guest. Fishermen from

Cortez often commented that they did not want to feel as though they were museum

pieces. But as tourists are paraded around the village, one might begin to have that

notion. Furthermore, as discussed earlier the often anticipated economic benefits may not

accrue to the fishermen or other villagers. Fishermen want to fish and do not necessarily

want to be museum workers. Moreover, the necessary skills in managing or working in a

museum are not the same as those needed to handle a fishing boat and use a net.

Needless to say, there were many questions concerning the impacts and benefits of such a


With the maritime center's mission of educating the public as its primary focus,

presenting an acceptable image of commercial fishing is closely tied to tourism. It

becomes one medium by which the community presents its self; this is who we are. That

image will be important in several respects for if the maritime center is to be successful

the image must be one people are willing to accept and willing to view. The

appropriateness of that image then becomes coupled to the culture of resistance that has

helped define this community. The question becomes: can the village advocate resistance

and still portray an image that the general public will accept? The answer to that question

becomes even more important as their adversaries in the net ban campaign begin to

formulate their own image of Cortez and commercial fishermen in general.

The net ban campaign places this community and commercial fishermen in

situation that raises significant questions concerning power relations. As commercial and

recreational fishing interest groups began lobbying public officials and the general

populace, there were distinct power differentials that became evident. While recreational

fishing interest groups claimed that the commercial industry had fishery management

agencies and legislators on their side, it was evident from the beginning that their

resources were far greater, both monetarily and politically. Furthermore, within the

management arena commercial fishermen have lost a part of their voice as fisheries

management has become much more dependent upon complex biological models to

determine stock status. Whereas, in the past commercial fishermen were often invited to

give their assessment of stock status based upon their experience on the water, more

recently their judgment is often considered biased. Commercial fishermen are often from

a lower socio-economic class with lower average education levels than their counterparts

in recreational fishing groups and state bureaucratic officials. This places them at a

distinct disadvantage as they may shy away from public speaking or challenging complex

bureaucratic rules and regulations. This, in part, explains fishermen's preference for

resistance on the water; it is a place where their skills match or exceed their adversary's.

As I have tried to link these various bodies of literature, I think it is clear that each

of these theoretical areas have some bearing upon the community which is the central

organizing theme. The image of Cortez and of commercial fishermen overall will be

important variables in the upcoming challenge to their identity and occupation. The

extent to which resistance can help or hinder their attempts to survive will be a key to

their success. As it stands, their chances of survival given potential changes to their

natural resource base as a result of stock declines or restricted access are dependent upon

their ability to fashion an acceptable resistance that is reflected in a positive image to the

general public. On the other hand, if their opponents are successful in redefining both the

resource and their identity, then the survival of Cortez as a fishing community may be in



This chapter describes both the physical and social environments that surround the

community of Cortez, Florida. Included in the description of the physical environment

are a description of the ecosystem, a discussion of fishing trends for both commercial and

recreational sectors, and a brief discussion of the regulation of both. The description of

the social environment includes census data and other demographic characteristics for

Florida, Manatee County and the community of Cortez. Finally, a discussion of the

trends found in both environments and some possible implications for the community

concludes the chapter.

It is Florida's impressive natural environment that draws so many people to this

state and in doing so has shaped a social setting with a rich history and challenging

future. The warm climate, beautiful beaches, abundant fish and wildlife have persuaded

many a visitor to become a permanent resident, and if not, at least, a permanent seasonal

visitor. Like so many other parts of the state, the central west coastline has supported

many ancient populations like the Timucuans, Tocobago, Calusa, and other prehistoric

groups. This same productive environment is what attracted the Spanish fishermen from

Havana and the fishermen from North Carolina who eventually settled Cortez. Today,

the modem day population centers of Tampa Bay/St. Petersburg and Sarasota/Bradenton

continue to attract migrants who have a decidedly keen interest in those natural resources.

Cortez is situated on the northern most point of Sarasota Bay (Figure 3-1), to the

west of Bradenton and just south of Tampa/St. Petersburg. Anna Maria Island, just to the

south of Tampa Bay, with its white sand beaches and blue-green waters acts as a buffer to

the Gulf of Mexico and provides a safe harbor for Cortez fishermen. In some ways, it is

ironic that this once pristine natural environment with its abundant resources, which has

provided the impetus for such rapid growth has created a social environment

---------... \ -rr l -\|Lf M e t _- "" < g ----



Figure 3-1. Cortez as Located on Florida's Gulf Coast

that now may threaten the future sustainability of so many resources and the communities

that depend upon them.

The Natural Environment

Florida's coastline is approximately 1,350 miles in length, longer than the

coastlines of Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas combined. Moreover, it is

nearly equal to that of all other Atlantic seaboard states. It embodies a diverse array of

habitats that includes coral reefs, beach rocks and the Gulf Stream. Inland Florida has an

extensive network of wetlands, freshwater lakes, rivers and streams that supply the

important habitat and nursery areas found in the brackish salt marshes and mangrove

swamps along the coast. Over 1100 species of fish live in Florida's aquatic habitats, with

ten times more marine than freshwater species. These saltwater dwellers depend upon

the coastal salt marshes, mangrove forests, and sea grass meadows for food, shelter,

growth and reproduction (Seaman 1985).

Marshes, mangroves, and swamps are all classified as wetlands. Florida's

marine/estuarine wetlands consist of three different types: 1) Carolinian characterized

by marshes and well-developed barrier islands with small to moderate tidal range; 2)

West Indian characterized by low-lying limestone shoreline with calcareous sands and

marls with a tropical biota which includes coral reefs and mangroves and a small tidal

range; and 3) Louisiana similar to Carolinian. Tidal marshes occur over much of

Florida's coastline and are marked by periodic flooding with salt or brackish water due to

tidal flow. Tidal marsh makes up approximately 80 to 90 percent of the South Atlantic

and Gulf coastlines of Florida, making it the largest coastal marsh area in the U.S. These

areas are important habitat and protected areas for both adult and juvenile fish, birds and

invertebrates. In addition, the existence of these marsh areas also provides important

protection to shorelines from erosion and can act to remove excess nutrients from the

water column (Durako et. al. 1985).

Almost one third of the state's saltwater marsh area stretches along the Gulf coast

from Tarpon Springs to Apalachicola. However, the extent and type of saltwater marsh

south of Tarpon Springs differs from that to the north. Tidal marshes in central west

Florida, south of Tarpon Springs, are more transitional communities between the

mangroves and freshwater. Mangroves dominate the wetlands from Tarpon Springs

south, with black (Avicennia germinans), red (Rhizophora mangle) and white

(Laguncularia racemosa) mangrove being the most common. Mangrove may be the

dominant inter-tidal plant community in the state with as much as 272,973 hectares,

although estimates vary (Durako et al. 1985; Florida Coastal Management Program

1997). Mangrove forests, like other wetlands areas are critical habitat for many fish and

other invertebrates.

Sarasota Bay acquired its modem day shape around 5,000 years ago. It was formed

by offshore bars migrating upward creating the barrier islands to the West and causing

the formation of wetlands in the shallower areas. Earlier in the bay's history, when the

climate was colder, tidal marsh was more prevalent Because this past century has been

relatively warm, there has been an increase in mangrove coverage, although more

recently that coverage has begun to shrink. Sarasota Bay is close to the northern limit for

mangrove forests in Florida as mangrove is a cold-sensitive tree. Today, Sarasota Bay

has more than 90 percent of its tidal wetland in mangrove (Estevez 1992).

Freshwater contributions to Sarasota Bay are minimal and the many passes which

connect the bay with the influence of the Gulf of Mexico, account for the high salinities

found in this system (Comp and Seaman 1985). Tampa Bay, to the north of Cortez, has

five major rivers which discharge into the bay. With widely spaced barrier islands

fronting this bay, Gulf water freely circulates and provides a rather well defined salinity

gradient. The lower half of Tampa Bay is dominated by mangrove along its shore.

Florida had nearly 20,400,000 acres of wetland in 1850. By 1985, the state had lost

roughly 9,300,000 acres, or almost half of its wetlands. Sarasota Bay was no different

than the state as a whole. From 1948 to 1987,51 percent of the marsh and mangrove

areas of the bay area were lost, giving an average loss of 59 acres per year (Estevez

1992). The significance of this loss becomes obvious when the importance of these areas

as fishery habitat is examined (Lewis et al. 1985).

Florida's Ecosystem and Fishery Resources

In Florida, over 70 percent of the commercially and recreationally landed species of

finfish and shellfish are estuarine-dependent for at least part of their life cycle. For the

Atlantic coast of Florida, between 60-70 percent of economically important species spend

some part of their life cycle in estuaries. Furthermore, over 90 percent of the commercial

biomass and 80 percent of the recreational biomass from the Gulf of Mexico are estuarine

dependent. Estuarine ecosystems play an extremely important role in life cycle for these

important resources. Because of the complexity of any species life history, habitat use

becomes a "mosaic" of use with various different types and areas being inhabited during

different life stages. The alteration of any one of these habitats can critically affect a

species' ability to sustain a healthy population.

One of the most important roles for the coastal marsh system is as a nursery area.

Many of the estuarine-dependent species spawn offshore while their larvae are

transported into the estuary. With their beginning in those areas of less salinity, they

grow and move toward areas of higher salinity and eventually complete their life cycle

offshore. In addition, as adults many species utilize these marsh areas for protection,

feeding and other purposes. Some of the more important estuarine-dependent

commercial species are menhaden (Brevoortia tyrranus), penaeid shrimp (Penaeidae),

blue crabs (Callinectes sapidus), and black or striped mullet (Mugil cephalus). Important

estuarine-dependent recreational species are spotted sea trout (Cynoscion negulosus), red

drum (Sciaenops ocellatus), sand sea trout (Cynoscion arenarius), tarpon (Megalops

atlantica) and black drum (Pongonias cromis). Still, some reef fish, i.e. red grouper

(Epinephelus morio), and other pelagics (ocean going Scrombridae) may also depend

upon these estuarine systems at some stage in their life history.

Trends in Florida Fishing

Florida's commercial and recreational fisheries provide important sources of food

and recreation for both residents and visitors. Florida's total commercial seafood

landings averaged around 180 million pounds from 1974 to 1994, prior to the net ban,

with an average value of just less than 155 million dollars a year (Figure 3-2.).

250,000,000 --.-.. ....---- .---.------.-................- --------.- --- --- -----.----. .----- --- -----

200,000,000 -





Figure 3-2. Florida's Total Commercial Fisheries Landings from 1974 to 2002. Source:
National Marine Fisheries Service, 2004

After the net ban became effective in 1995, average pounds drop below 150 million

pounds and average around 130 million pounds. Florida's West coast averaged a little

less than 125 million pounds during the time period of 1974-1994 with an average value

of around 112 million dollars per year (Figure 3-3). Shrimp was the leading species in

terms of value in the early 1950s, but since then the value of finfish and other

invertebrates have caught up and are now almost equal in terms of value. Finfish have

historically lead in terms of pounds landed but recently total landing weight has dropped

and is now equivalent to both shrimp and invertebrates (Florida Coastal Management

Program 1997).


140,000,000 -


1 80,000,000 -

a' 60,000,000

40,000,000 -



Figure 3-3. Florida West Coast Total Commercial Fisheries Landings from 1974 to
2002. Source: National Marine Fisheries Service, 2004.

Landings have been relatively constant for Florida overall and the west coast,

although the most recent years have been toward the lower end of the range. The most

recent decrease in landings is due to the net ban and prior to that other regulation may

have induced lower landings. Increased regulation has often limited the amount of fish

landed through implementation of Total Allowable Catch rules and quotas. A decreasing

biomass which, is the impetus for increasing regulation, may be attributed to overfishing

by both commercial and recreational fishermen. But, more importantly and not often

readily apparent are decreases in biomass due to problems within the ecosystem such as,

pollution, loss of habitat and other environmental distress. These are long-term problems

that are very complex and difficult to explain and assess in terms of impact and effect

upon fish populations.

Saltwater recreational fishing has long been an important part of Florida's

recreational economy. It was not until the early 1980's, however, that Florida and the

National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) began to gather data on the number of

recreational fishermen, their catch and effort. For that reason, accurate and reliable data

on recreational fishermen does not exist prior to 1981. Early data collected by the Marine

Recreational Fisheries Statistics Survey (MRFSS) was problematic and had very large

margins of error. That system has been improved although there are some who still

believe the margins of error are too large. In addition, Florida did not require a saltwater

fishing license until 1989 and therefore did not have a very reliable count on the actual

number of recreational fishermen. Furthermore, the present licensing system excludes

fishermen from docks and the shore in that they are not required to hold a fishing license.

Florida's commercial and recreational saltwater fishermen compete for a wide

variety of species of fish, but only a few are important to both. Over the years, that

competition has lead to vigorous debate over how Florida's fisheries are managed and

who should receive an allocation or suffer the impacts of regulation. Figures 3-4 through

3-8 provide landings for both commercial and recreational fishermen for several species.

Bluefish (Pomatomus saltatrix) landings have been relatively equivalent, although

landings overall have been higher in most years for the recreational fishery, over time

there has been a decrease in landings for both sectors. According to the Florida Marine

Research Institute (Murphy and Muller 1995) bluefish landings showed a significant

decline from 1981 to 1994 along the Atlantic coast but showed no such trend for the Gulf

coast (Figure 3-4). Commercial catch rates for bluefish showed no significant change

from 1988 except for after the net ban in 1995, while catch rates for recreational

fishermen have increased on the Atlantic side and fluctuated without trend for the Gulf

coast. Bluefish were considered overexploited in 1994 (Murphy and Muller, 1995).

7000 -
0 6000
o 4000
S3000 -__
1000 Iiv

Year Bbuefih Rec
N Bluhiefish Comm

Figure 3-4. Bluefish Landings for Recreational and Commercial Fishermen from 1981-
1996. Source: Florida Coastal Management Program 1997.
Spotted sea trout (Cynoscion negulosus) landings (Figure 3-5) illustrate that this

fishery has historically been a recreational fishery. As with bluefish, spotted sea trout has

seen a decline in landings for both sectors. Catch rates for the commercial sector are

constant because of regulations implementing a quota and trip limits in 1989. Catch rates

for the recreational sector increased in 1990 and 1991 after new regulations were

imposed. Assessments completed on spotted sea trout in 1995 and 1994 suggested that

the spawning potential ratio was between 15 and 19 percent, below the target level of 35

percent established by the Marine Fisheries Commission (Murphy and Muller 1995).

Spotted sea trout landings after the net ban are discussed in Chapter 7.


8 000


g2 OOO -{.-.-.-.-.-.

Year U Spotted Sea Trout Rec
Spotted Sea Trout Comm

Figure 3-5. Florida Spotted Sea Trout Landings for Commercial and Recreational
Sectors from 1981-1996. Source: Florida Coastal Management Program 1997.
Black Mullet (Mugil cephalus) has traditionally been a commercial species (Figure

3-6). This is primarily because it is difficult to catch mullet with a hook and line, unless

you are very patient with a blade of grass or bread ball. Mullet have a catadromous life

cycle, which means they reside in fresh water but spawn at sea (Murphy and Muller


Historically, commercial fishermen with large seines or gill nets caught mullet, as

they "bunch up" in small groups. Mullet develop roe and spawn from November to

January. As they get closer to spawning they form large groups very tightly bunched

together and swim out to sea. They make an easy target for any net fishermen who might

be there at the time of their migration. When mullet roe became more valuable in the

1970's as demand from Asian markets increased, it became the primary fishery for many

Florida fishermen who would also travel seasonally to other states to catch the spawning

mullet. In fact, during research conducted in 1988 in Louisiana, interviews with

fishermen there indicated that Florida fishermen developed the roe mullet fishery in that



25000 -

1 ~5000


Year E Mullet Rec
___~_____________* Mullet Com

Figure 3-6. Florida Landings of Mullet for Commercial and Recreational Sectors from
1981-1996. Source: Florida Coastal Management Program 1997.

Mullet had a spawning potential ratio' between 18 and 25 percent in 1992 that was

below the 35 percent SPR set by the Marine Fisheries Commission. However, regulatory

changes implemented in 1993 would have brought mullet out of the overfished status by

1 Spawning potential ratio is a measure of the number of females capable of spawning
within a particular stock of fish. It gives an indication of the health of the stock and the
larger the spawning potential ratio the better the health of the stock of fish as the chances
of reproducing are better.

1998-2000 (Murphy and Muller 1995). Mullet landings after the net ban and its impact

are discussed in Chapter 7.

King mackerel (Scromberomorus cavalla) has become primarily a recreational

fishery since the early 1980's (Figure 3-7). This is due in part to changes in regulations

that limited the commercial catch through quotas and trip limits. Recreational fishermen

have also been subjected to lower bag limits over the past decade, but landings have still

increased for that sector. King mackerel are found year round in southeast and south

Florida, but, only seasonally in the north.

According to genetic research there are two different stocks of king mackerel on

the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of Florida. Each is subject to different regulations as the

Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (GMFMC) and the South Atlantic Fishery

Management Council (SAFMC) manage each of their respective stocks.


7000 -



0- A

Year U King Mackerel Rec
________U King Mackerel Comm

Figure 3-7. Florida Landings of King Mackerel for Commercial and Recreational Sectors
from 1981-1996. Source: Florida Coastal Management Program 1997.

Of the total landings, recreational fishermen for the Atlantic and Gulf coasts landed

54 percent and 82 percent respectively (Murphy and Muller 1995). King mackerel have

been overfished in the past but have recovered on both coasts.

Spanish mackerel (Scomberomorus maculatus) has been managed under a quota

and bag limits through state regulation since 1986. Federal fishery management councils

implemented compatible regulations in 1987 that have brought this species out of the

overfished status (Murphy and Muller 1995). As seen in Figure 3-8 this is primarily a

commercial fishery with 60 percent of landings on the Atlantic coast being commercial

and 82 percent of Gulf coast landings being commercially harvested. As with king

mackerel there seems to be both an Atlantic stock and possibly more than one Gulf stock.

Catch rates for recreational fishermen have shown a general increase with a slight decline

in 1994 (Murphy and Muller 1995).

The mackerels and bluefish are pelagic which means they are ocean-going fish.

Bluefish do come in close to the beach to feed and king and Spanish mackerel are also

caught off docks and piers, but they are mainly fished nearshore or offshore. Mullet and

sea trout are inshore species caught in the rivers, bays and nearshore areas. There are

many other species of fish that are targeted by Florida's saltwater fishermen. None of the

reef fish species that are caught further offshore have been included here, but are still

important in terms harvest and value to the commercial and recreational fisheries.

These are the groupers (Mycteropercae), snappers (Lujani), porgies (Pagri) and

other reef dwellers. They have become more important over time as consumers tastes

have widened to include many species which were not popular in the past and more

recreational fishermen with larger boats and motors have improved ability to reach reefs

offshore. Many reef fish species are overfished and both the state and federal

management agencies have implemented regulations to limit both recreational and

commercial fishermen.



0 -
l~m,%b INI % 1) b,

Year U Spanish Mackerel Rec
Spanish Mackerel Corn

Figure 3-8. Florida landings of Spanish Mackerel for Commercial and Recreational
Sectors from 1981-1996. Source: Florida Coastal Management Program

There are a few Cortez commercial fishermen who fish offshore for reef fish or

shrimp. In fact, one fish house has a small fleet of boats referred to as the "grouper"

boats and several shrimp trawlers. Grouper boats fish for reef fish using "bandit reels"

which are powered reels with several hundred feet of fishing line and several hooks on

each. They range in size from 30 to 50 feet in length. These boats may fish for several

days to a week before they return to the dock. The crew commonly referred to as

"grouper diggers" are often not from Cortez and are often considered drifters by local

residents. The offshore shrimp trawlers are larger with a range of 50 to 80 feet in length.

They too will fish for several days offshore before offloading.

The majority of Cortez fishermen work primarily nearshore, the bays and estuaries

for those species listed in the tables above fishing small net boats (called "kickers"),

either fishing alone or with a crew of one. These boats are usually no longer than 30 feet

(see description in Chapter 5).

In addition, there is also a purse seine fishery for baitfish. Purse seine vessels are

larger than the "kicker" boats with a size range of 50 to 70 feet. Baitfishes are usually

menhaden, Spanish sardines or thread herring and caught with large purse seines. They

are usually unloaded and boxed for retail sale to recreational fishermen whole or ground

up for chum.

There are other species that are allocated to recreational anglers only, like red drum

(Sciaenops ocellatus), tarpon (Megalops atlanticus) and snook (Centropomus

undecimalis). Commercial fishermen cannot target these species and must comply with

the recreational bag limit restrictions. In addition, they may possess these species only

without a net on board. Red drum is overfished and has been in the stages of rebuilding

for close to ten years. Strict bag limits for recreational fishermen and commercial

restrictions were implemented 1985. In 1986, the sale of red drum was prohibited

making it an entirely recreational fishery (Schlesinger 1999).

Sarasota Bay Fishing Trends

It is difficult to assess fishing trends for an area like Sarasota Bay because data are

not collected in such detail to provide catch statistics for either commercial or

recreational fishermen. The Sarasota Bay National Estuary Program (1992) did attempt

to assess these fisheries resources. Because of limited commercial data, the report

focused upon survey research conducted for the recreational sector and a brief report on

landings data for the commercial fishery.

Manatee County's total commercial finfish landings in 1986 were 15.6 million

pounds and were dominated by menhaden (Brevoortia tyrannus) landings of 12.3 million

pounds, with black mullet (Mugil cephalus) landings ofjust over 3 million pounds. Total

landings for that year were second only to Gulf County, which had landings of 17.4

million pounds. Sarasota County landings were far less but, that can be accounted for as

the majority of fish caught in the bay are landed in Cortez. By 1990, there were

significant drops in landings of Spanish sardines (Sardinella aurita) and red grouper

(Epinephelus morio). Mullet (Mugil cephalus) remained stable with landings of 3.1

million pounds. Spotted seatrout (Cynoscion negulosus) commercial landings also

showed some decline, but could be attributed to many different factors (Edwards 1992).

The two species that are most likely indicative of overall fishery trends within

Sarasota Bay are spotted sea trout (Cynoscion negulosus) and black mullet (Mugil

cephalus). Mullet landings peaked at around 6 million pounds in 1957, 1965, and 1969

with a low of around 2 million pounds in 1976. Overall, there has been a decline in

commercial landings since the early 1950s. The same is true of spotted seatrout with

peak landings of 430,000 pounds in 1951 to average landings of around 100,000 pounds

during the 1980's (Edwards 1992).

The trend in recreational fishery is similar. Although the data are sparse comparing

catch rates for spotted seatrout from the most recent survey with earlier studies it is

obvious that catch rates have declined dramatically (Edwards 1992).

The reasons behind this decline are complex, but it is important to note that during

the timeframe for the declines in these two commercial fisheries, the population of the

two county area increased tenfold from 64,000 in 1950 to 490,000 in 1990. The

environmental impacts of such population growth have been documented before and

therefore it is likely that such an increase in population along Sarasota Bay has had

similar impacts (Edwards, 1992). Those impacts range from shifting patterns in harvest,

i.e., spotted seatrout, where the recreational sector increases its harvest to impacts upon

the environment from destruction of habitat, i.e., building of seawalls, removal of

mangroves, increased storm water runoff, etc. It is likely that both the recreational and

commercial fisheries of Sarasota Bay have contributed to the declines in fisheries,

especially those like spotted seatrout. However, it is also likely that the main contributors

to the decline in fisheries are environmental changes, especially loss of habitat. Sarasota

Bay has lost 20-30 percent of its seagrasses, 39 percent of its wetlands, and 78 percent of

its natural shoreline. With these types of environmental impacts, there will be a

subsequent decline in fisheries (Edwards, 1992).

Marine Fisheries Regulation

Florida fishermen, both commercial and recreational are subject to both federal

and state laws when fishing. Florida has jurisdiction from shore to three miles of their

coastline along the Atlantic coast and nine miles on the Gulf coast. Outside of state

jurisdiction, Federal fishery management councils create rules and regulations

implemented by the National Marine Fisheries Service in what is called the Exclusive

Economic Zone, which extends 200 miles from state waters. Florida fisheries

regulations, as with most coastal states in the Gulf and South Atlantic, are enforced

through cooperative agreements between the Florida Marine Patrol, National Marine

Fisheries Service Enforcement, and the Coast Guard. The state of Florida, the Gulf and

South Atlantic Fishery Management Councils, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries

Commission and the National Marine Fisheries Service all cooperate to implement laws

that are not redundant or contradictory to one another. However, the vested interest of

any one of the management agencies can supersede the others and create incompatible or

different regulations for the fishing public. These laws usually take the form of a fishery

management plan which can encompass one or more species. The plans are often

directed toward a species group, but action can be taken to remedy problems with one

species that may require special attention.

Until recently, laws created by the Florida Marine Fisheries Commission (FMFC)

regulated Florida's saltwater fishermen. The Florida Legislature created the Commission

in 1983 with rule-making authority over marine life, with the exception of endangered

species. All rules, however, would need to receive final approval from the Governor and

Cabinet The FMFC consisted of seven commissioners appointed by the Governor and

approved by the State Senate. Members of the FMFC served four-year terms. Prior to

the establishment of the Commission, fisheries regulation was undertaken by local

authorities, which by 1983 had established over 220 local laws concerning saltwater

fishing. Once established, the Florida Marine Fisheries Commission reviewed these local

laws and they were either repealed or continued in effect. Since its inception, the FMFC

has implemented at least 500 distinct saltwater fishing regulations approved by the

Governor and Cabinet.

The FMFC was originally made up of individuals from both the recreational and

commercial sectors that had some interest in the fisheries being managed. In later years,

appointees from the commercial sector were seldom appointecLd. This issue was often

alluded to by those from the commercial sector as an inequity within the rule-making

process. Others from the recreational sector considered the participation of those from

the commercial sector to be in direct conflict with the rule-making process since they had

an economic interest in the outcome. Nevertheless, because rules needed approval from

the Governor and Cabinet, it provided the commercial sector with an opportunity to

challenge the FMFC through lobbying efforts at the Cabinet level. This opportunity for

political maneuvering became an important issue during the Save Our Sealife campaign

which would ban the use of entanglement nets in state waters and the more recent joining

of the State's freshwater and saltwater fishery management agencies.

The commercial fishing industry's relationship with the FMFC at that time was

very reminiscent of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FFWCC) and

its relationship to inland commercial fisheries that was reported by Gibson-Carpenter

(1992) and her study of alligator hunters. In her dissertation she examines the ban on

various commercial gear types which eventually put most commercial fishermen who

fished inland waters out of business. The dynamics of how those regulations came about

are very similar to the state of affairs between commercial fishermen and the marine

fisheries management agency prior to the net ban. The FFWCC, at that time, was under

strong pressure from recreational interests to ban commercial fishing in lakes and rivers.

Similarly, agency personnel who had conducted assessments were reporting that

commercial fishing could continue without having a deleterious impact upon fish stocks

if regulated properly. These reports did not appease the recreational fishing interest

groups and some agency personnel were forced to leave the agency under pressure from

those associations according to one informant (Gibson-Carpenter 1992). The agency

eventually banned the use of most commercial gear for freshwater fishing.

Social Environment

With its steadily increasing population, Florida's social environment has provided

the backdrop for significant changes in the state. The destination for the majority of that

population has been along its coast. There has also been a trend toward a more urban and

an older population. The combination of all these factors has had its impact upon

Florida's natural resources and the communities that depend upon them, like Cortez.

Florida Population Trends and Demographics

Florida's population has seen steady growth over the last century. In 1920 the

state's population was 968,470 according to the census for that year. By 1990 that

number had grown to 12,937,930 and by 2000 was well over 15 million (Figure 3-9).

Most of that growth has been concentrated along the coastline. The number of

individuals who live in Florida's coastal counties has increased at a rate much faster than

that for noncoastal counties as seen in Figure 3-10. While just fewer than sixty percent

(59.0) of the population lived in coastal counties in 1920, that percentage grew to almost

eighty percent (79.3) in 1970 before dropping slightly in 1980 (78.6). That percentage is

projected to continue to drop through the year 2020. However, the coastal population is

projected to reach over 15 million by the year 2020 (Florida Coastal Management

Program 1997).

Related to the general increase in coastal population are two other important

demographics. The first is an increasing population density for coastal counties; a rate

much faster than that for the rest of the state. The other is an increasing trend toward

urbanization of the state. Coastal counties had a population density of 19.03 persons per

square mile in 1920. That number increased to 335.21 by 1990. That compares to 16.45

persons per square mile in 1920 to 119.04 in 1990 for non-coastal counties.


16,000,000 -----
i10,000,000 --
8,000,000o ---
6,000,000 --
4,000,000 --
0 n-r-,- F- '' f


Figure 3-9. Florida's Total Population from 1830-2000. Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Furthermore, in 1920 fifty-one percent of those living in coastal counties lived in

urban areas, by 1990 that figure had risen to 90 percent (Florida Coastal Management

Program 1997). The reasons for that shift are varied, but include general growth in urban

areas and also migration from rural areas to urban. This shift toward urbanization is

important because most, if not all, fishing communities in Florida began as relatively

isolated rural communities. These demographic changes have certainly had an impact

upon most coastal communities, many of which were or are still dependent upon

commercial fishing as an important source of income.

Manatee County and Cortez Population Trends and Demographics

Manatee County like most coastal counties in Florida has experienced its share of

growth. The county's population in 1930 was 22,502 with a median age of 25.4. The

2000 census indicated a population of 264,002 with a median age of 43.6. The change in

median age is an important statistic that indicates of the importance of Florida as a

retirement destination for many retirees from throughout the United States.






o _,_ [Vb .l .M ,
1920 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990

M Coastal Counties
U Noncoastal Coties

Figure 3-10. Florida Coastal County and Noncoastal County Population from 1920 to
1990. Source: Florida Coastal Management Program 1997.

Coastal counties, like Manatee, are most likely the preferred destination for those

retiring to the state as they have seen the most growth over the years. Coastal counties

are also the preferred destination for other seasonal residents within the state. Manatee

County had approximately 20,000 seasonal residents in 1987 that accounted for between

16-18 percent of the population. A 1987 survey of visitors to Manatee County found that

the majority of seasonal visitors were from Midwestern states and that 56 percnet of

foreign visitors were from Canada. Another 14 percent and 12 percent of foreign visitors

were from Germany and England respectively (Clarke Advertising 1987).

The increasing population of retirees along with the large number of seasonal

residents has important implications for the economic base of the county. According to

the 1997 economic census, Figure 3-11 shows that personal income from fishing during


1984-1997 has fluctuated considerably, but has dropped most recently from previous

years. In contrast, personal income from the service sector has seen a constant increase

and is far and above the dollar value of fishing as seen in Figure 3-12.


2 ,0 00 1 -.... ...

S1,000 .. ... -
5 500 .....

01S I i- 11
S50 1 L-L '-17 L-L J- -L- 7 -"-7 -

1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997

Figure 3-11. Manatee County Personal Income from Fishing for 1984 through 1997.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau 2000.

Cortez Population and Demographics

These demographic changes in Manatee County have certainly affected Cortez. In

1887, a General Directory for Manatee County listed 49 heads of households and of

those, 33 were listed as fishermen (Manatee County Historical Records Library). In

1920, the census found a population of 290 individuals in Cortez with 66 of those people

employed as fishermen. The 1990 census classifies Cortez as a Census Designated Place

and its entire population of 4,509 as urban. That population dropped slightly in the latest

census with a population of 4,491 in 2000. In addition, the 1990 census found of those

persons 16 years and over 58 were employed in agriculture, forestry and fisheries, falling

in 2000 to 39. The median age for Cortez in 1990 was 65.3 dropping slightly to 62.5 in

2000 (U.S. Census Bureau 2000).

1,600,000 1
1,400,000 . .. .
S1,200,000 ... .. .
S1,000,000 .. -
o 8 0 0 ,0 0 0 . .. .. i ..
o 400,000 . .. .. ..
F- 01-111flF :U111.


Figure 3-12. Manatee County Personal Income from Service Industries for 1984 through
1997. Source: U.S. Census Bureau 2000.

Cortez like many coastal communities in Florida has seen the steady advance of

urban sprawl as a result of the increasing population within Manatee County. The once

unpaved road from Bradenton is now four lanes to the Cortez city limit with numerous

businesses along the way catering to tourists and seasonal residents. With the

construction of the bridge to Anna Maria Island in the 1920s Cortez no longer was the

destination at the end of the road, but one of many neighborhoods to pass on the way to

the beach. It is ironic when tourists' visiting Cortez for the first time comment that they

never realized the community was located where it is. They never made the association

that "Cortez Road" led to Cortez.

Although the U.S. Census Bureau lists the population of Cortez as 4,491, it is

unlikely that older Cortesians would consider the community to be that large. For the

majority of those who consider themselves "native" to Cortez, the community is much

smaller. The original community center is south of Cortez Road where the fish houses

are located, on the working waterfront. There are some who do not include those who

reside to the north of Cortez Road as residents of the historic community. However,

several key figures within the history of the community do reside there. The 2000 census

lists 3,308 households in Cortez, but the historic village consists of less than 200. To the

north of Cortez Road there have been several recent developments that include

condominiums, in addition to single-family homes. To the east of Cortez, along Cortez

Road toward Bradenton, several trailer park communities have been developed and are

most likely included in the census of Cortez. Neither of these of developments is

considered to be part of the historic village. In fact, most individuals who reside in these

developments would not consider themselves residents of Cortez, but more likely

Bradenton. Many of these residents are seasonal and live in other states out of "season."

The "season" begins in late October and lasts until March; it is the period when most

seasonal visitors come to the area to escape the colder climate of their customary


The high median age for Cortez is characteristic of the migration of retirees to this

area. It may also be an indication of changes in the historic village that relate to a process

sometimes referred to as "gentrification." The process of gentrification relates to the

increasing value of property as individuals of higher socio-economic class begin to move

into an area and acquire land (Gale 1991). In addition, these individuals are usually from

a different part of the state or nation and do not share the same attachment to the

landscape or community that comes from long-term residence. It becomes increasingly

difficult for younger members of the community to buy or rent property, which further

makes their ability to stay within the historic village less likely. Within the community of

Cortez rents reflect this change as I found out when looking for a place to reside during

my stay in the community. Rents were commonly quoted at $700 to $1000 a month for a

house within the village. This is not unexpected when beach property just over the bridge

can bring that or even more in season.

Many of the community's younger residents are able to stay within the village

because of their kinship ties to property owners. My own stay in the village was possible

because a fisherman, who owned property within the village, charged me considerably

less than the going rate for housing in the community. For the most part, the younger

fishermen in Cortez do not reside in the historic village, but often outside the community.

This is becoming an increasingly common pattern of residence in communities with

economies dependent upon tourism (Oliver-Smith et al. 1989).

Not only has the demographic shift brought an older population to Cortez and the

surrounding community, but also more often than not, these new seasonal and permanent

residents are of a different economic class. Although most are not as wealthy as those

who reside in the exclusive areas of Longboat Key, they are more likely of a higher

socioeconomic class than most native Cortesians and local fishermen. This is an

important demographic because along with the higher socioeconomic class comes a

higher education level and other resources which offer an advantage when participating

in local political and economic spheres.