Bill clears House that allows commercial fishermen to use nets on Tennessee River

Bill clears House that allows commercial fishermen to use nets on Tennessee River

ATHENS, AL (WAFF) - A bill that would allow commercial fishermen to use nets on the Tennessee River has passed the Alabama House of Representatives.

The Senate has to pass the bill for it to become a law.

Some are concerned it would threaten the booming bass population, and have a negative impact on recreational fishing.

This bill originally allowed commercial fishermen to catch bass in nets.

The version that just passed through the House has an amendment that prohibits them catching bass, but there are still some concerns with opponents of the bill.

The use of nets on the Tennessee River's Alabama territory was banned in 1975, but the ban has been enforced more in the past few years.

Recreational anglers say they've seen a resurgence of bass in the river in that time. They organize hundreds of bass tournaments a year. 

The owner of American Bass Anglers in Athens, Morris Sheehan, says he's not against commercial fishermen using nets in the river, but he wants it to be well regulated, and he does not like that the bill does not limit the use of nets to commercial fishermen from Alabama because he believes that would decrease the bass population.

"The way this is written, people from Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, you know, anybody could come in here and take away those resources from the Alabama commercial fisherman and there's nothing to stop them," said Sheehan.

He also said the economic impact is those tournaments will not come to the community.

"Therefore, they don't get to enjoy the nights in hotels, restaurants, gas, fishing lures," said Sheehan. "All the paraphernalia that the fishermen buy once they come in."

A bill to allow nets on the Tennesse River passed the state house, but didn't make it through the senate two years ago.

WAFF will let you know if it makes it this time.

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