With the proposal of HB 267 on the House floor, we could possibly see cruise lines coming back to Key West, FL. HB 267 intends to seize control of city ports in Key West by the state of Florida and allow cruise liners to resume docking, contrary to how voters in the area wished on multiple occasions.
The Floridian already spoke with bill sponsor Rep. Spencer Roach (R-79), however, Key West natives who have experienced the channel traffic will tell you a different story than the people in Tallahassee would.
For Captain Will Benson, this issue is his livelihood, and the hundreds of other fishermen he represents.
The Floridian spoke with Benson, a longtime resident of Key West, and fisherman who has reportedly been trying to bypass legislators and take up his grievance with Florida governor, Ron DeSantis (R-FL).
So far, Benson has attempted on “multiple occasions” to contact the governor’s office, but Gov. Ron DeSantis has not yet responded. Benson claims to have sent DeSantis a letter on behalf of over 170 charter fishermen in the Florida Keys to enlist his help.
Benson then explained the toll big ship cruise liners have taken on the environment and economy of Key West:
“In the past the port of Key West was some of the most fertile grounds for us fishermen. And as we watched big ships continue to get bigger and come more frequently to Key West, we saw the environmental damage and the decline in our fishing.”
Benson’s case is now growing beyond anecdotal as he informed The Floridian that a case study done by FIU now proves that there is a “Measurable difference in dissolved oxygen content and the turbidity in and around the waters of Key West” when comparing cruise traffic to non-cruise traffic in the area.
Benson applauds the governor’s proven record on environmental awareness and just asks to “give the fish a chance”, and to, “Not let the legislators run over the voters.”
Benson is a fisherman first and foremost and is leading the fight alongside small business owners. He wants other Floridians to know that they are not the elitist class war instigators Tallahassee wants you to think they are.